Common Name: Cheetah

Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubatus

Type: Mammals

Diet: Carnivorous

Average Lifespan in the Wild: 12 years

Size: 70 to 86 in. long

Weight: 85 to 140 lb. 

South East African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Today there are just 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, that’s down from an estimated 14,000 cheetahs in 1975 when researchers made the last comprehensive count of the animals across the African continent.

In addition, the cheetah has been driven out of 91 percent of its historic range—the big cats once roamed nearly all of Africa and much of Asia, but their population is now confined predominantly to six African countries: Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Mozambique. The species is already almost extinct in Asia, with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in one isolated pocket of Iran.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, humans are the main reason that cheetahs are in peril. Like other large carnivores, cheetahs face habitat loss driven by conversion of wilderness areas into managed land dedicated to agriculture or livestock. People will then sometimes kill cheetahs if they perceive the animals as a threat to their livestock, even though cheetahs rarely take domesticated animals.

Cheetahs are also subject to vehicle collisions, poaching for their skin and other body parts, and even being killed for bushmeat, as well as having their cubs stolen to be trafficked and sold as pets.