1 – The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world (it’s only birds that can fly faster). They can reach a top speed of around 113 km per hour (70 mph).
2 – Cheetahs can reach 60 mph in 3 seconds.
3 – Cheetahs are extremely fast however they tire quickly and can only keep up their top speed for a few minutes before they are too tired to continue.
4 – Due to their speed, the average time it takes a cheetah to catch its prey is about 20 seconds. They normally stalk their prey until they are about 20 feet away.
5 – Cheetahs are smaller than other members of the big cat family, weighing only 45 – 60 kilograms.
6 – While lions and leopards usually do their hunting at night, cheetahs hunt for food during the day.
7 – Cheetahs cannot climb trees and have poor night vision.
8 – A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away.
9 – One way to always recognise a cheetah is by the long, black lines which run from the inside of each eye to the mouth. These are usually called “tear lines” and scientists believe they help protect the cheetah’s eyes from the harsh sun and help them to see long distances.
10 – Cheetahs are the only big cat that cannot roar. They can purr though and usually purr most loudly when they are grooming or sitting near other cheetahs.
11 – With their light body weight and blunt claws, cheetahs are not well designed to protect themselves or their prey. Cheetahs eat quickly before they are driven off by lions, leopards or hyenas. When a larger or more aggressive animal approaches a cheetah in the wild, it will give up its catch to avoid a fight
12 – Cheetahs only need to drink once every three to four days.
13 – A cheetah lives between 10-12 years.
14 – Male cheetahs stay in groups, females remain alone, except when they have cubs. They usually bear 3 to 5 cubs. Mother cheetahs move their cubs to new hiding places every few days.
15 – Cheetahs have a high cub mortality rate, up to 90% in the wild, since until cubs can follow their mother at about 6 weeks, she has to leave them alone to hunt. It is also difficult to breed cheetahs in captivity.
16 – The rare King cheetah has stripes on its back. Two new baby King cheetahs were recently born at the Big Cat and Endangered Wildlife Centre, near Hoedspruit!
17 – Despite its tenacity, cheetahs are endangered and could be gone forever in less than 20 years, largely due to human conflict and habitat destruction.
If International Cheetah Day has inspired you to help conserve these speedy endangered cats, here are a few wildlife volunteer projects in Africa specialising in helping cheetah, where your work will be greatly valued.
Cheetah conservation projects in Africa
- Karoo Cheetah and Wildlife Research Volunteer– Eastern Cape, South AfricaExperience a truly rewarding conservation programme in the stunning South African bush! Working with local ecologists, wildlife volunteers undertake pioneering research and close-encounter activities to aid conservation and animal reintroduction in the Great Karoo, and may assist with community programmes. Research predatory habits of Cheetahs, get close with Vervet Monkeys and learn ancient tracking skills!
- Cheetah and Wildlife rehabilitation – Near Port ElizabethAn unique opportunity where wildlife volunteers work on Game Reserve Conservation Initiatives and up close and hands on with the Africa’s amazing wildlife in the breeding/rehabilitation programme – including animals like Cheetah, Hyena, Servals and Caracals. Volunteers walk out with the Cheetah in the reserve – a experience you will never forget!
- Big Cat and Endangered Wildlife Centre – Hoedspruit, South Africa.An exciting opportunity to work hands on with some of Africa’s most endangered wildlife including Cheetahs, Painted Dogs, African Wild Cats and many other animals at this leading sanctuary and breeding centre in Hoedspruit. Wildlife volunteers work with the dedicated staff in all aspects of wildlife care and rehabilitation, as well as being involved in any wildlife veterinary care or hand rearing of animals that may be needed.