August 03, 2011
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Portrait of cheetah in Kenya. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Capable of hitting speeds up to 75 miles per hour, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the world's fastest land animal. The cheetah hunts its prey in short bursts of incredible speed, but fails more often than it succeeds.
The cheetah is listed by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. As of 2008, researchers estimated a total population of 7,500 adult animals globally. The cheetah is threatened by habitat loss, revenge killings for perceived livestock attacks, and even the pet trade
There is currently talk of reintroducing the cheetah into India after the Asiatic cheetah, a unique subspecies, vanished from there in the 1940s. Today, the Asiatic cheetah today is considered Critically Endangered with at most 100 individuals surviving in Iran. A second subspecies, the Saharan cheetah, is also classified as Critically Endangered with maybe a couple hundred surviving.
For more photos: Cheetahs.