Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubatus
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Weight: 46-142 pounds
The Cheetah is the only feline adapted for prolonged high-speed pursuits of prey, with an unmistakable greyhound-like build. They have a tall, slim frame with long legs, a narrow, deep chest and waist, with a long, tubular tail. The head is small and round with a short muzzle and small rounded ears. The claws are dog-like and they lack the freshly, protective claw-sheaths present in other cats, but, contrary to popular belief, the claws are partially protractile. Background color ranges from a light tawny to yellow-blonde fading to creamy-white underparts. About 2,000 solid black round or oval spots cover the body. The Cheetah’s lachrymal or tear streaks are not found on any other feline.
The Cheetah is famously the fastest terrestrial animal on Earth, best suited for hunting small to medium-sized antelopes and gazelles. Typical primary prey species include Thomson’s Gazelle, Grant’s Gazelle, Dama Gazelle, and Dorcas Gazelle, Springbok, and Impala. Other prey include sheep, wild goats, large rodents, hares, large birds, porcupines, foxes, warthogs, as well as juvenile wildebeest, zebras, buffalo, and giraffes.
The Cheetah has a reputation for poor reproduction rates. Cheetahs breed year-round, sometimes with weak birth peaks during prey lambing periods. Gestation is 90-98 days with a litter size of 3 to 6, rarely even up to 8.