Also considered to be the swiftest mammal on the planet, cheetah is a spotted wild cat, native to the grasslands of Africa and southwestern Asia. While it is famous for its impressive speed, other aspects about this animal, such as its habitat and diet, continue to elude people. In fact, there are many things worth knowing about the cheetah; agility is just one of them.
About Cheetah in Brief
The cheetah is typically characterized by a long, slender body, with flexible spine and long legs. It sports a yellow fur coat, with black spots all over the body, except for the underside. An adult cheetah can grow to a length of 45 to 53 inches, attain a height of 26 to 37 inches, and weigh approximately 79 to 140 lbs. Its body structure plays a crucial role in making it the fastest animal on land, with the ability to clock a speed of anywhere between 64 to 75 mph (100 to 120 kph) with ease. Though it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds, it can only maintain this speed for a short distance of around 500 meters. A typical carnivore, it can eat anything which is smaller than it in size. Its speed plays a vital role when it comes to hunting in open grasslands.
Cheetah Habitat Information
As we mentioned earlier, cheetah is native to various countries in Africa and southwestern Asia. The Asiatic cheetah became extinct from the Indian subcontinent in 1952. Even though there have been reports of unconfirmed sightings from several Asian countries, none of these reports have substantial evidence to prove their existence. Even in Africa, the cheetah population is on a decline. Once found all over the continent, today the animal is restricted to small pockets in various parts of the country. Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, and Botswana have a significant number of cheetahs left, with Namibia having the highest population (approximately 2500 individuals) at present.
A cheetah is mainly known to inhabit areas characterized by vast open land and availability of prey in abundance. When hunting, it tends to go as near the prey as possible before it begins the chase. Hence, it prefers an area which is marked by vegetation dense enough to hide and get near the prey, but not as dense as to hinder the chase. Such conditions for the cheetah to thrive are found in semi-desert, savanna grassland, and prairie regions. The habitat of this wildcat also differs in accordance to the region where it is found. In Namibia, for instance, it inhabits the Savannas, whereas in the Iran, it inhabits dry, semi-arid areas.
Found in abundance at one point of time, excessive poaching and loss of habitat has brought down the number of cheetahs to an all-time low. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has already declared it a vulnerable species. If proper measures for its conservation are not implemented soon, there are significant chances that the cheetah will become extinct within a few years.