The speedy cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is very distinct from other cats and has many unique adaptations to enable it to chase prey at high speeds. Cheetahs have declined drastically in the past century and now only occur in 10% of their historic range in Africa and a small population of less than a 100 in Iran.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Unique Facts

~ Fastest terrestrial mammal - over 80 km per hour ~

~ Non-retractable claws that assist with running ~

~ Active during the daytime instead of at night ~

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
Cheetah at Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park (South Africa)
By Mukul2u (Own work), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Image Source


Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the cheetah species (Acinonyx jubatus) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae   (cats)

Genus: Acinonyx

Species: Acinonyx jubatus (cheetah)


Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Subspecies (lower classifications)

Globally cheetah are listed as Vulnerable (VU) and as Endangered (EN) for the Mediterranean region. Currently five subspecies are recognized of which two are listed as Critically Endangered (CR).

  • Acinonyx jubatus venaticus - North Africa to central India / Asiatic Cheetah (Critically Endangered)
  • Acinonyx jubatus hecki - Northwest Africa / Saharan Cheetah (Critically Endangered)
  • Acinonyx jubatus fearsoni - East Africa
  • Acinonyx jubatus jubatus - Southern Africa
  • Acinonyx jubatus soemmerringi - Northeast Africa

Reference: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. <> Acinonyx jubatus 23 May 2017.


Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Conservation

The following organizations are all fighting to protect our remaining cheetahs, in the face of continuing habitat loss and fragmentation, persecution and illegal trade.


Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Facts and Information

The following links will take you to websites with well researched and authoritative information on cheetahs:

Recommended Books about all Wild Cats

Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter Luke Hunter 2015
(general and academic interest)
Wild Cats of the World - eBook

The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014
(general interest)
The Wild Cat Book - eBook

Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson J. Sanderson & P. Watson 2011
(general interest)
Small Wild Cats - eBook

Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids D.Macdonald & A.Loveridge 2010
(academic interest)
eTextbook version

Wild Cats of the World - Sunquist Mel and Fiona Sunquist 2002
(general and academic interest)

Educational Video Clip on Cheetahs

The Science of a Cheetah's Speed - National Geographic - 3.5mins