It’s International Cheetah Day!

Video highlights from Cheetah: Fatal Instinct

Learn more about the world’s fastest land mammal

  • The cheetah’s claws are short and blunt and help the cheetah grip the ground when running.
  • Cheetahs live almost entirely in Africa. The subspecies Acinonyx jubatus venaticus was once spread as far as India, but has shrunken to tiny populations in the Mid-East.
  • Cheetahs live only on open plains and savannahs. They avoid thick forests as they cannot gain enough speed to hunt their prey.
  • With relatively small teeth and jaws compared to other big cats, cheetahs cannot defend their kills from being stolen by stronger predators like lions.
  • Cheetahs are capable of going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 3 seconds, though they can only maintain these high speeds for short periods.
  • Cheetahs mainly feed on smaller prey such as hares, gazelles and young wildebeest. Male cheetahs who hunt in a teams also attack adult wildebeest, zebras and adult ostriches.
  • The cubs are born blind and helpless in a lair. The mother stays with them most of the time and only leaves them to hunt. When the cubs are 6-8 weeks they start to follow their mother.
  • When young cheetahs are about 14-18 months old, their mother leaves them to mate again.

Don't miss our International Cheetah Day marathon on Sunday 4 December 2.30pm AEDT
on Nat Geo WILD!

  • The life of a young cheetah is dangerous, losses are high. Especially lions but also leopards and hyenas kill the cubs. In the Serengeti in Tanzania only 5% of the cheetah cubs reach adulthood.
  • Solitary lionesses, so-called nomads, have a difficult time raising their cubs without the protection of a pride. Every male they encounter is a deadly threat to their offspring.
  • In Serengeti National Park, the average size of territories defended by coalitions of male cheetahs is about 37 square kilometres.
  • If a new coalition of males conquers a pride, they usually kills all the lion cubs in the pride because female lions with cubs under 18 months will not mate. Female lions that lose their cubs soon become receptive to mating again.

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