The Cheetah

Cheetah cub walks through grass turning head, Adobe Stock, by Nick Dale

Very Important Predators

by Billy Timms

The Cheetah

(Acinonyx jubatus)

There’s a spotted shadow drifting through the tall grass of the African savanna. It would take a good eye to notice the camouflage fur blending in with the native foliage. The star of today’s VIP is the cheetah. Acinonyx jubatus.

The cheetah is built for speed, with a lightweight body, long legs, and a tail that can be used like a rudder. Her heightened senses include keen hearing, increased olfactory acuity, and excellent eyesight well adapted for the hunt. She can identify prey over three miles away. 

Cheetah walks towards camera over rock-strewn grass, Adobe Stock, by Nick Dale

The cheetah patiently stalks her prey…

Cheetah leaving jungle, Adobe Stock, by Patrick Rolands

Until she is just close enough…

Cheetah hunting in the dry riverbeds of the Kalahari, Adobe Stock, by Wayne

When the cheetah gets within a few hundred yards of unsuspecting savanna grazers, then it’s all but over. The cheetah is the fastest animal on land with a maximum speed of over sixty miles per hour!

Namibia. Cheetah running at the Cheetah Conservation Foundation, Adobe Stock, by Janet Muir / Danita Delimont

This fascinating big cat cannot be outrun.  Off the line, forget about it!  0 to 60 in three seconds, and she can stop on a dime! 

Unlike most cats, Cheetahs cannot retract their claws, so they can’t climb.  They have a dew claw on the back of their front leg that they use to trip their prey.

Once the cheetah has an animal down it goes straight for the throat, biting and blocking air flow through the windpipe.

Running cheetah, exercising with a lure, completely airborne, Adobe Stock, by Marcel

Cheetah are skilled predators, but they don’t hunt people. There are no known attacks on humans in the wild. The same isn’t true the other way around. Today there are less than seven thousand cheetahs living in the wild and their numbers are decreasing.

Headshot of cheetah against white background, Adobe Stock, by ysbrandcosijn

Conserving this natural beauty is a tricky challenge. Wildlife sanctuaries that protect cheetahs also protect their predators… hyenas, lions, and leopards all prey on cheetah cubs who aren’t fast enough to escape. It seems cheetahs have a better chance of surviving off the sanctuaries, where they face farmers and guns.

Beyond the predator and the prey.

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NatAtEnvo was formed by BioTriad Environmental, Inc. to provide entertaining and informative media while keeping the wonders of nature in the public eye.

Our world is their hunting ground. Our back yards are their killing fields. They are the masters of land, sea, and sky, the balancers of ecosystems, and the most important predators on earth.