Cheetah Articles

These articles about interesting Cheetah characteristics and their amazing adaptations are based on scientific research papers.

Images are copyright the article publisher or photographer credited in the original article.

Rehabilitation Research Returns Orphaned Cheetahs to the Wild

Sean Mowbray - Mongabay June 2022


  • A long-running program in Namibia has shown how orphaned cheetahs can be successfully rewilded, presenting a rehabilitation template for wild-born, captive-bred individuals of other species.
  • The program by the Cheetah Conservation Fund took in 86 young cheetahs orphaned due to human-wildlife conflict, and eventually released 36 of them between 2004 and 2018.
  • Twenty-seven of the cheetahs eventually became independent in the wild, while one female went on to raise two cubs — the “pinnacle of success” for any wildlife reintroduction effort.
  • The study authors and independent experts agree that having safe release sites — where the newly reintroduced animals won’t run the risk of conflict with humans or other predators — and rigorous post-release monitoring are key to rehabilitation success.

Original Article: Rehabilitation Research Returns Orphaned Cheetahs to the Wild

Based on Research Paper:

Walker, E. H., Verschueren, S., Schmidt-Küntzel, A., & Marker, L. (2022). Recommendations for the rehabilitation and release of wild-born, captive-raised cheetahs: The importance of pre- and post-release management for optimizing survival. Oryx, 1-10. doi:10.1017/s0030605321000235

Cheetah Research Namibia
A cheetah cub. Thirty-six rescued cheetah orphans went on to be selected for release during the CCF’s rehabilitation project. Image courtesy of the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
Cheetah Research - Locomotion
(Left) Flight types involved in cheetah galloping (Right) A simple model for analyzing galloping motion
Image courtesy: Tomoya Kamimura from Nagoya Institute of Technology

A Speedy Trial: What It Takes to Be the Fastest Land Predator

Nagoya Institute of Technology - June 2021


  • What makes cheetah the fastest land mammal? Why aren't other animals, such as horses, as fast? While we haven't yet figured out why, we have some idea about how.
  • Cheetahs, as it turns out, make use of a "galloping" gait at their fastest speeds, involving two different types of "flight": one with the forelimbs and hind limbs beneath their body following a forelimb liftoff, called "gathered flight," while another with the forelimbs and hind limbs stretched out after a hind limb liftoff, called "extended flight". Of these, the extended flight is what enables cheetahs to accelerate to high speeds, and it depends on ground reaction forces satisfying specific conditions; in the case of horses, the extended flight is absent.
  • Additionally, cheetahs show appreciable spine movement during flight, alternating between flexing and stretching in gathered and extended modes, respectively, which contributes to its high-speed locomotion. However, little is understood about the dynamics governing these abilities.

Original Article: A Speedy Trial: What It Takes to Be the Fastest Land Predator

Based on Research Paper:

Tomoya Kamimura, Shinya Aoi, Yasuo Higurashi, Naomi Wada, Kazuo Tsuchiya, Fumitoshi Matsuno. Dynamical determinants enabling two different types of flight in cheetah gallop to enhance speed through spine movement. Scientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-88879-0

Cheetahs' Inner Ear is One-of-a-Kind, Vital to High-Speed Hunting

American Museum of Natural History - February 2018

Summary by Matt Warren on

  • The cheetah is built for running, with long limbs and powerful muscles that propel it along as it chases down its prey. But a new study has found that the world's fastest land mammal has another, less obvious adaptation hidden away in its inner ear.
  • Scientists suspected that the cheetah might also rely on a specialized vestibular system, the part of the inner ear that detects head movements and helps animals maintain their gaze and posture. Using computerized tomography scans, they created detailed 3D images of the inner ear from the skulls of cheetahs and other cat species, from leopards to domestic cats.
  • They found that the vestibular system took up a much greater part of the inner ear in cheetahs than in any other cat. The cheetahs also had elongated semicircular canals, parts of the system involved in head movement and eye direction. These features help the animal catch dinner by letting it keep its head still and its eyes on the prize, even when the rest of its body is rapidly moving, the researchers write in Scientific Reports.
  • The extinct giant cheetah did not have the same features, suggesting that the distinct vestibular system evolved fairly recently, they say.

Original Article: Cheetahs' Inner Ear is One-of-a-Kind, Vital to High-Speed Hunting

Based on Research Paper:

Grohé, C., Lee, B. & Flynn, J.J. Recent inner ear specialization for high-speed hunting in cheetahs. Sci Rep 8, 2301 (2018).

Cheetah Research Anatomy
This illustration shows the evolution of the inner ear through deep time in the cheetah lineage.
© Mélanie Grohé

View Trips to Africa to see Cheetahs

Cheetah 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:

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For visitors from other countries, find the name of a book you'd like on either of the above two sites, then search for it on AbeBooks to see if there is a local bookstore in your country that can supply it. AbeBooks is also a great source of second hand or out of print books.

All visitors can also download a free reading app for Kindle to your smart phone, tablet or computer from Amazon. You can then read any Kindle ebook ordered from Amazon on your own device, regardless of which country you reside in, and there is no need for a Kindle device.


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