Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
Cheetah at Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park (South Africa) by Mukul2u (Own work) [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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, being well known as the fastest land mammal. One of these adaptations is non-retractable claws that help it grip the ground when running, whereas most other cats have retractable claws. 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.

Puma Lineage

1. Puma / Mountain Lion (Puma concolor)

2. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

3. Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi)

Key Facts about Cheetahs

~ Fastest land mammal - 80km+/hr ~

~ Non-retractable claws ~

~ Active during the day ~

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Classification

Cheetahs are classed in their own genus Acinonyx and the full 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)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Acinonyx

Species: Acinonyx jubatus (cheetah)


Acinonyx jubatus jubatus

Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii

Acinonyx jubatus venaticus

Acinonyx jubatus hecki


The scientific name for Cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus which is also known as the cheetah binomial name, cheetah species name, cheetah latin name, cheetah biological name and cheetah zoological name. Some call it the cheetah botanical name however that term is applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Ten Wild Cats of Africa
Ten Wild Cats of Africa by Wild Cat Family
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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Subspecies

Cheetah Lower Classifications

Five subspecies (or lower classifications) of Cheetah have been recognized in the past:

  • Acinonyx jubatus fearsoni - East Africa (or A.j. raineyi)
  • Acinonyx jubatus jubatus - Southern Africa
  • Acinonyx jubatus soemmerringi - North East Africa

However based on recent genetic studies the current taxonomic revision of Felidae proposes only four Cheetah subspecies:

  • Acinonyx jubatus jubatus - Southern and Eastern Africa
  • Acinonyx jubatus soemmerringi - North East Africa
  • Acinonyx jubatus venaticus - South West Asia and India
  • Acinonyx jubatus hecki - West and North Africa


Cheetah Conservation

The global conservation status for Cheetahs is Vulnerable (VU) and Endangered (EN) for the Mediterranean region. Two of the four subspecies are further listed as Critically Endangered (CR) - the Asiatic Cheetah and the Saharan Cheetah.

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 Conservation Fund (CCF) - Namibia
Action for Cheetahs - Kenya
Cheetah Conservation - Botswana (CCB)

Cheetah and African Wild Dogs - Africa

Panthera - Iranian Cheetah Project

Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your contribution, every bit helps!

Cheetah cubs playing by Anup Shah

Wild Cats of Africa Poster - Big Cats of Africa Poster
Wild Cats of Africa by Roger Hall
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Cheetah Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on cheetahs:

Books about Cheetahs