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Cheetah Facts & Info

Cheetah Facts & Information

top speed cheetah

Top Speed

Cheetah's are the fastest land animals reaching a top speed of 112 km/h.

cheetah facts

Weight & Height

Large animals, their bodies can be a astonishing 1.1 to 1.4 m long and weigh between 34 and 54 kg.

african cheetah facts and info

Cheetah Tail

Incredibly their tails grow upto 65 to 80 cm long.

  • It is estimated that each Cheetah can have upto 2000 black spots
  • Females are not territorial and may roam over home areas upto 50 and 3000 sq km 
  • In the 1900 approximately 100 000 Cheetahs roaming freely
  • Today it is estimated that only 9000 to 12000 roam freely in Africa
  • Only half of hunts that last between 20 to 60 seconds are successful  

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Cheetah Facts & Information

Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus

This beautiful slender and sleek looking cat has some very impressive bragging rights as the fastest land mammal on the planet! This amazingly fast animal can reach speeds of up to 112km/h.

Being able to run so fast though has a few downfalls: 1. the speed can only be maintained at stop speed for short distances. 2. A cheetah is absolutely exhausted after an exertion run, the cheetah’s body temperatures will rise and the animal will have to find some shade and will need to rest and cool down.

Evolutionary wise cheetahs have made some amazing adaptations to be able to run at such extreme speeds. Cheetahs have larger hearts, larger lungs, larger nostrils and elongated spine with a long tail for balance it’s even said that semi retractable claws are used like spikes which gives the animal extra added traction. These claws identical in ligament structure to that of a Lion or Leopard lacks a sheath covering and fur that other cats have to retract them.

imfolozi cheetah

Cheetahs have also been known to swim, although they do not like to. The Cheetah is not one of the Great Cats, because it does not have a floating Hyoid bone in its neck it cannot roar, therefore it is a Lesser Cat.

The South African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), also known as the Namibian cheetah, is the most numerous and the nominate cheetah subspecies native to Southern Africa. Since 1986, it has been classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. There were 550 to 850 cheetahs left in South Africa in 2007.

Male cheetahs are the more social, spending most of their lives in small groups called "coalitions", while females live with their youngsters until they are independent and rarely associate with adult cheetahs other than for brief breeding encounters.

while out on safari in imfolozi

Females usually give birth to between two to eight cubs at a time. She nurses her youngsters in a lair hidden by tall vegetation, until they are 16 to 24 months old and able look after themselves.

Baby cheetahs are called cubs and are usually born in litters of three to five. They are blind at birth and are covered with a thick coat of fur, called a mantle, which helps to protect them from predators. Cub mortality rates (about 90%) and habitat loss are definitely not contributing to their vulnerable status. Cheetah cubs are predated on by any large predator and even eagles.

cheetah cub hluhluwe

Cheetahs are often confused with their cat counterparts the leopard, but there are some keys differences that will help tell the two apart:

Cheetahs are considerably smaller and slimmer than leopards, they also have black streaks running down its face from the eyes, and cheetahs have spots, whereas leopards have rosettes.

Cheetahs are carnivores .Cheetah will mainly prey on smaller antelope such as impala but have been known to take down bulkier animals such as the young of zebra and Wildebeest. Coalitions or small groups of cheetah group together have also seen taking adult Zebra and Wildebeest on. Cheetah however, after the exertions runs are not strong enough to defend their catch from other hungry easy meal seeking predators. Cheetahs lose up to 50% of their well deserved kill to Lions, Leopard, Hyenas and Wild dog. Cheetahs try and adapt to this by hunting in the heat of the day when other predators are sleeping softly. 

Cheetahs can be found in open plains, woodland, savannah, highlands up to 2,000 m, and arid regions extending to desert fringes.  Habitat is determined more by abundance of prey and lack of other big predators, but a balance of cover and visibility is important.

Want to see these amazing animals in their territory

heritage tours and safaris

Heritage Tours & Safaris departs on Safari into the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa ( Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park) each day why not join us and discover this incredible and magnificent reserve. They offer a wide variety of day safari options as well as overnight safari packages that includes all the highlights of KwaZulu Natal.