Tap to Read ➤

Where do Cheetahs Live?

Bhakti Satalkar
With the worries about the dwindling forest cover, where can you watch cheetahs with the naked eye? If you have been hounded by this question, you have reached the right place. Read on to know more about the habitat of these speedy cats.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a member of the cat family. It is known for its speed. It is the fastest land animal, and can reach speeds of 112 to 120 kilometers per hour. It is also known to be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0-62 mph) in as short as 3 seconds.
Do you realize that it is much faster than most 'fast' cars? The name 'cheetah' is derived from a Sanskrit word, which means 'variegated body'. The name 'cheetah' actually came into use through Hindi. Due to their dependence on speed, they require large areas with open spaces to chase their prey.


Previously, cheetahs were more widespread than their present range. They inhabited lands as far as eastern India and southern Kazakhstan. Ancient fossils of ancestors and relatives of the modern cheetah have also been discovered in China. However, with depleting forest reserves, and also with the declining number of their prey, the numbers of the cheetah are indeed fast dwindling.
Today cheetahs are almost entirely limited to sub-Saharan Africa. These animals are now mainly found in eastern Africa, around the border between Kenya and Tanzania. They can also be seen in southern Africa, primarily in Namibia, Uganda, Botswana, and Zambia.
The largest population of cheetahs, estimated to be around 3000, is said to be present in southern and eastern Africa, around Namibia. Although in very small numbers, these cats are also found in northeastern Iran and northwestern Afghanistan, and rarely in Pakistan. These specimens are known as Asiatic cheetahs.
They prefer to live in savannas, prairies, open woodlands, and thick scrublands. Since they rely on their speed to hunt, and do not have good climbing abilities, they avoid densely forested areas.
They are known to make good use of elevated sites such as termite mounds, which dot their native landscape, to gain a good view of its territory and a potential good meal. You can take a safari in the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park to spot one in its natural habitat.
The African population of the cheetah is also threatened, and is depleting because of severe loss of habitat, which has also resulted in a steady decline in the number of prey animals, and poaching for various parts to be sold in the international market.
Cheetahs have also been shot down as livestock predators, when they have visited human settlements in search of food. Various conservation measures are being taken to prevent the cheetah from becoming endangered.
The mortality rate for baby cheetahs during the first three months after birth is as high as 90%, in spite of the precautions taken by their mother. The mother shifts the cubs to different locations every few days to keep them away from their predators, such as lions, hyenas, or leopards. Less than one third of the cubs survive to become adults.
Now that you know where cheetahs live, are you planning to take an African safari and see these beautiful creatures with your own eyes? Watching this lighting-fast cat where it feels at home would certainly be a dream come true.