Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - Puma Lineage
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)

Subspecies:

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 African Cats with Scientific Names - Poster
Ten Wild Cats of Africa Chart by Wild Cat Family

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 genetic studies the last taxonomic revision of Felidae in 2017 proposed 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 if you can. No matter the size of 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
View Wild Cats of Africa Print

Cheetah Facts and Information

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

 

2019 Big Cat Documentary:

Preview The Secret Lives of Big Cats filmed using high tech starlight and thermal imaging night cameras to capture previously unrecorded behavior. The series includes seven episodes on the secret lives of Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Cheetahs. Produced by CuriosityStream.

African Safaris

The following organizations offer tours to Africa where you are likely to see Cheetahs in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:

Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.

View Trips to Africa to see Cheetahs

Books about Cheetahs