The Beauty Of A Cheetah

by Kalaysha Jenkins

The cheetah is a large feline inhabiting most of Africa and parts of the Middle East. It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx. The cheetah can run faster than any other land animal.

The cheetah is a marvel of evolution. The cheetah's slender, long-legged body is built for speed. Cheetahs are tan in color with black spots all over their bodies. They can also be distinguished from other big cats by their smaller size, spotted coats, small heads and ears and distinctive "tear stripes" that stretch from the corner of the eye to the side of the nose.

Cheetahs eat mainly gazelles, wildebeest calves, impalas and smaller hoofed animals.

In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range. Today, an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa. In Iran, there are around 200 cheetahs living in small isolated populations.

Historically cheetahs were found throughout Africa and Asia from South Africa to India. They are now confined to parts of eastern, central and southwestern Africa and a small portion of Iran.

Found mostly in open and partially open savannah, cheetahs rely on tall grasses for camouflage when hunting. They are diurnal (more active in the day) animals and hunt mostly during the late morning or early evening. Only half of the chases, which last from 20 - 60 seconds, are successful.

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