The Living Desert
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Acinonyx jubatus


Felidae, the cat family.

Conservation Status:

Vulnerable, IUCN; some populations are extinct, some critically endangered.


Arid Africa with Namibia having the largest population, and persists in Asia only in Iran.



Savannas, open woodlands and semi-desert areas.


Though they can attain speeds up to 70 MPH, they can only sprint for a few hundred yards and are the fastest land animal.

The cheetah is a large, brownish-yellow cat with black spots, a small head with rounded ears, and a black “tear line” from the inner corner of the eye to the mouth.

They use any rise in the terrain, such as termite mounds, kopjes or acacia trees, to survey their territory for potential prey and need bushes or grass for hiding their young and for cover to help them stalk within sprinting distance. Their canine teeth are shorter, jaws weaker and bodies leaner than other large cats and they prey on a variety of small and medium sized animals, preferably small antelopes or calves of larger species. They usually hunt later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon than other large carnivores, thus avoiding direct competition. Their prey is often stolen from them by lions or hyenas. Both adults and cubs are preyed upon by lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs.

Mating may occur at any time during the year with a possible peak after the rainy season. Usually 3 to 5 cubs are born and weaned at 6 months but remain with mother for 13-20 months while learning survival skills.


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