Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are renowned as the fastest land mammal. Despite their incredible speed, they're Africa's most threatened cat big cat, with only 7 100 individuals remaining in the wild.
Cheetah populations have disappeared from vast areas of their historic range. They occupy only 10% of their historic range in Africa, mostly in Southern and Eastern Africa. Their Asian range is now limited to a small desert area in central Iran.
According to the IUCN, cheetahs are a vulnerable species, with approximately 6 700 mature individuals remaining in the wild. This number of mature individuals continues to decline, with the overall population decreasing.
Because cheetahs often require an extensive range to hunt in, they are particularly susceptible to habitat loss. THei flexibility in terms of prey often results in conflict situations with human populations and retaliatory killings.
Habitat and Ecology
Cheetahs are found in various habitats, including dry forests, scrubland, and even desserts, including the Sahara. Tropical and montane forests in Africa are exceptions.
Typical prey for cheetah can vary greatly, ranging from small- to medium-sized ungulates like impala and gazelle to small animals like hares and even ground-dwelling birds. They have also been known to prey on large species like kudu and wildebeest.
Interestingly, while cheetahs are the fastest land mammal, they rarely reach their peak speeds when pursuing prey. Often their prey is weaving, and there are obstacles to navigate, so the speed is somewhat diminished. High speeds are maintained over shorter distances of no more than a few hundred meters.
Socially, cheetahs are unique among their other cat relatives. Females tend to live alone or with their dependent young, while males prefer to hunt alone or roam with two or three others in a coalition.
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