A cat with a
greyhound chassis. Built for speed lightboned, swaybacked, long, thin
legs, and short neck. male wt 77-143 lb. (35-65 kg), ht 28-36 in (70-90
cm); female wt. 20 lb. lighter, height within male range. Tail long
(26-32 in [65-80 cm]). Feet small feet with blunt (except dewclaw)
unsheathed claws. Head small, round with foreshortened face; relatively
small teeth; low, broad ears. Coat short except for ruff of longer hair
framing face and short spinal crest; fluffy hair on chest and belly.
Color: tawny, with small, solid black spots; white underparts; outer
tail ringed black and white; black ear backs, lips, nose and distinctive
"tear stains." Juveniles have long, silky fur black with faint
spots and a cape of long, blue gray hair. Teats 10 or 12.
Still widespread in
sub Saharan savannas and arid zones, wherever suitable prey occurs,
though generally at very low density. Formerly ranged through North
Africa and the Near East to India. An extraordinary lack of genetic
diversity, suggesting that at one point it went through a genetic
bottleneck (possibly all living cheetahs descend from one female), makes
the species peculiarly vulnerable to disease.
Cheetahs may be
seen at Serengeti NP, medium and long grass plains, Tanzania; Masai Mara
NR, Amboseli NP, Kenya; Etosha NP and private game ranches, Namibia.