Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

General overview


Whereas the cheetah was once found throughout Asia and Africa, the species is now only scattered in Iran and various countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The remaining cheetah populations are estimated to range between 10,000 and 12,500 animals divided over 24 to 26 African countries, with a small population of less than 100 animals in Iran. The cheetah in West – and Central Africa still survive in small pockets, but they are extinct in most of their range. Namibia has the world’s largest number of free-ranging cheetahs with about 3,000 animals. The cheetah is listed as a Vulnerable on the IUCN global Red List and is listed on CITES Appendix I. A great majority of cheetahs live in small, isolated groups outside protected game reserves where they are often in conflict with humans and livestock, and therefore most of these populations continue to decline. The cheetah is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h and can accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h in three seconds. The diet of these carnivores mostly consists of mammals under 40 kg, such as Thomson’s gazelle, impala, springhare and young of larger mammals such as wildebeest. The adult cheetah weighs between 36 and 65 kg. The cheetah thrives in areas with vast expanses of land where prey is abundant and can be found in a variety of habitats such as  grasslands, savannahs, dense vegetation and thick bush.

West - and Central Africa

The overall densities of the cheetah in West- and Central Africa are very low and status surveys are urgently required to identify possible remaining population strongholds.A distribution map of the cheetah populations


  • Human-wildlife conflict, retaliatory or pre-emptive killing by pastoralists
  • Prey depletion
  • Loss of habitat and prey because of human encroachment
  • Poaching


Among all the big cats, the cheetah is the least able to adapt to new environments. Their habitats have been reduced by agriculture, degradation of rangelands and competition from domestic stock, following increasing occupation of the habitat by human communities. The cheetah is still hunted for its fur.