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Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Superorder Preptotheria
Order Carnivora
Sub-order Feliformia
Family Information
Family Felidae
Sub-family Felinae
Tribe Information
Tribe Acinonychini
Genus Information
Genus Acinonyx
Species Information
Species A. jubatus
Subspecies A. j. hecki
A. j. fearsoni
A. j. jubatus
A. j. soemmeringii
A. j. venaticus
Population statistics
Population 7,500-10,000 (2007 est.)
Conservation status Vulnerable[1]

The cheetah is a member of the feline family. The distribution of the cheetah is limited to Africa, where vast expanses of land fit their hunting style.

Cheetahs are unique among the feline family for their great speed and hunting style. Capable of reaching speeds up to 70 mph in short sprints,[2] the cheetah is the fastest of all land animals. When hunting, a cheetah swipes at the prey's hind legs to trip them; this is distinctively different from other big cats, which would pounce and grab onto the prey, using their body weight to put the prey off balance.

The cheetah has several differences from other animals, to allow it to run at the speeds it does. They have claws that are semi-retractable, unlike other cats, and also rough paw pads, allowing greater traction when running. The body and fur is naturally smooth, reducing drag, the bones are light, reducing weight and the lungs are large, allowing increased breathing. However, the cheetah is designed only to sprint for short distances, as at top speed, the internal body temperature quickly rises to dangerous levels.[3] Cheetahs therefore hunt at the coolest times of day – morning and evening. They stalk their prey before attacking and often come within about a hundred feet (30 meters) of their prey before they sprint towards their prey.[4]


  • A. j. hecki
Northwest Africa
  • A. j. fearsoni
East Africa
  • A. j. jubatus
Southern Africa
  • A. j. soemmerringi
Northeast Africa
  • A. j. venaticus
North Africa, Middle East to central India


The cheetah is listed as vulnerable in the ICUN Red Data List.[5] Cheetahs require large tracts of land in which to hunt, and hence have a low density of numbers where they occur; a density of 0.8-1.0 animals per 100 square kilometers has been cited in the Serengeti Plain for example. Much land has been altered by man, either for farming or livestock. Faced with a reduction in numbers of prey animals, some cheetahs have killed domestic livestock; these cheetahs in turn are dealt with as pests. The subspecies A. j. venaticus, once found over much of south-central Asia, has been reduced to approximately 600 individuals in Iran, where they are protected by law. Both A. j. venaticus and A. j. heckii are listed as critically endangered.


"While most scientists believe that the cheetah evolved, the very oldest cheetah fossils show us an animal that is just about like the cheetahs we know today. This complete lack of evidence for evolution, plus the intelligent specialized features of the cheetah, lead us to the conclusion that the cheetah is a special creation of God."[6]