The cheetah can reach speeds of sixty-eight miles (110 km) per hour, making it the fastest mammal in the world.
It has non-retractable claws (unlike those of other cats), which provide it with better traction when it runs on soft ground.
Unlike most large cats, which hunt by ambush, the cheetah chases its prey at high speed, using its tail as a stabilizer, especially when making tight turns.
It preys on many of the animals that share its habitat, including gazelles, gnus, antelopes, and warthogs.
The males often live in small groups; the females are solitary, meeting up with males only to mate.
Once hunted for its spotted coat, the cheetah is now protected. However, poaching and habitat destruction continue to threaten it.
Name: Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
Family: Felidae (Cats)
Range: Sub-Saharan Africa and isolated pockets in southwestern Asia
Habitat: Savanna and open grassland
Diet: Gazelles, antelopes, gnus, warthogs, birds and rabbits
Head and Body Length: about 5 feet (1.5 m)
Tail Length: 26 to 32 inches (65 to 80 cm)
Shoulder Height: 27 to 34 inches (69 to 86 cm)
Weight: 88 to 143 pounds (40 to 65 kg)
Life Cycle: Mating year-round, peaks August to December; gestation 90 to 95 days, one to eight cubs born
Description: Yellowish coat with small, black spots; small head; short ears; high-set eyes; slim body; long legs; ringed tail with bushy, white tuft
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Major Threat: Habitat loss; persecution
What Can I Do?
: Visit the African Wildlife Foundation
for information on how you can help.