Meet The World’s Fastest Land Animal

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph).

Standing at about 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 110 and 140 pounds, they have long, graceful legs; a small, rounded head on a long neck; a very flexible spine; a deep chest; special pads on their feet that help with traction; and a long tail that is used for balance at top speed.

  • Top Speed: The cheetah can accelerate from a standing start to over 95 km/h (59 mph) in just 3 seconds! Its top speed is around 120 km/h (75 mph), making it by far the fastest land animal in the world.
  • Sprinting Duration: However, this incredible speed is limited to very short bursts. Cheetahs can sprint at their top speed for approximately 60 seconds only.
  • Fun Fact: While sprinting, cheetahs spend more time in the air than on the ground, making them the fastest animal on land, but not actually on the ground too much when sprinting!
Meet the world's fastest land animal
Image source (Wiki)

Physical Features

The cheetah is also the only cat that cannot retract its claws, providing more traction.

They also have distinctive black “tear tracks” that run from the corner of each eye to their mouth and provide anti-glare protection for daytime hunting.

Predators of the Plains

Cheetahs mainly prey on small antelopes such as Thomson’s gazelles and impalas, although they will also hunt small mammals and birds.

Hunting Technique

When a cheetah hunts, it gets as close as possible to its prey before trying to outrun it with a burst of speed. The cheetah then uses its paw to swipe the animal to the ground and then suffocates it with a bite to the neck.


It then eats as quickly as possible while looking out for scavengers such as hyenas, vultures, and jackals, who will steal from the very shy cheetah.

Diurnal Habits and Social Behavior

The world's fastest land animal
Image source (Fact Animal)

Unlike most other cats, cheetahs prefer to hunt during the day, particularly early morning or early evening.

Most of the time, cheetahs are solitary animals. On occasion, a male will hang out with a female after mating, but other than that, the female is either with her cubs or by herself.

Maternal Care

Cubs spend a long time with their mothers as they learn to hunt. Mom will bring a small, live antelope back to her cubs so they can chase and catch it.

High Cub Mortality

Unfortunately, there is a very high cub mortality rate among cheetahs. Approximately 50-75% die in the first three months of life because they are so susceptible to disease and predators such as eagles, hyenas, and lions.

Read more: Fastest fish in the ocean

Conservation Status and Threats

Cheetahs are currently classified as “vulnerable” by the IUCN. In 1900, an estimated 100,000 cheetahs could be found across Africa.

Now, there are about 7,500 adults left in the wild; the population has decreased by about 30% just in the past 18 years.

Habitat Loss

The high cub mortality rate is only one problem for cheetahs, though; they also face a lot of human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss.

Over the years, the cheetah’s habitat has shrunk dramatically, and it is now only 25% of its former size.

Human-Wildlife Conflict and Conservation Efforts

Where they do live (mostly Eastern and Southern Africa), they tend to be found widely but sparsely.

Cheetahs live where their prey is: the open plains. However, as the human populations grow and people expand agriculture and civilization into the grassland, more and more of the cheetahs’ habitat is disappearing.

AWF Initiatives

To help combat these problems, AWF is working to engage communities and minimize human-wildlife conflict.

By teaching communities that share space with cheetahs how to farm and expand sustainably and providing incentives for using the best practices, AWF is encouraging the people and animals are able to coexist peacefully.

Land Conservation

AWF is also helping to construct predator-proof bomas (livestock enclosures) to prevent the livestock from as much harm as possible.

When cheetahs do kill livestock, farmers are given consolation funding so that they can replace the dead animal without having to seek revenge against the cheetahs.

Community Involvement

AWF is setting aside land for conservation. This ensures cheetahs always have a home. Satao Elerai Lodge opened in Kenya.

The local Maasai community, who owns it, agreed to conserve the surrounding area. The lodge and the land are thriving.

In Kenya’s Amboseli region, AWF works with landowners. They create a wildlife corridor between parks.

Landowners are paid for each acre set aside. This ensures animals can use traditional routes safely.

The Bottom line

By working with the people who live side by side with cheetahs, we can help make sure these majestic creatures will be around for generations to come.

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