Cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world that belongs to the cat family. Cheetahs have spots that are unique to each animal, like fingerprints that are uncommon in humans. The name cheetah is a Hindu word meaning “painted” or “adorned.” Cheetahs have slender bodies, deep chests, and long thin legs. It is an active day hunter except those found in scorching areas that prefer hunting at sunset to escape the high temperature.
The Speed Of Cheetah
A Cheetah can attain a top speed of between 65 mph and 75 mph with the ability to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in only three seconds. In only two seconds, it reaches a speed of 47 mph. According to scientists, the top speed of a cheetah is 75 mph. The fastest world record of a cheetah was attained by a female Cheetah named Sarah aged 11 years living in Cincinnati Zoo in 2012. Sarah reached a top speed of 61 mph, which translates to 5.95 seconds in 328 feet (100 meters)
Why Cheetahs Attain High Speeds?
A cheetah weighs between 75 and 125 pounds and has a slender body built for speed. Other features that make cheetahs achieve incredible speeds include flattened ribs cages, small head, and lean legs that minimizes air resistance. Cheetahs also have long tails that serve as rudders to stabilize and steer the animal. Besides, cheetahs have a remarkably flexible spine. Other adaptations include large lungs, wide nostrils, large arteries, and large heart that allow the have sufficient oxygen in the muscles. Cheetahs also have a flexible hip with free moving shoulder blade. The skeleton operates like a spring that stores and releases energy. When Cheetah is on full speed, half of the time it is on air with all four feet off the ground. In one single stride, the Cheetah can cover up to 25 feet.
Cheetah Versus Human Speed
Humans are slow runners compared to cheetahs. Usain Bolt, who broke the world record to be the fastest human in the world, ran 330 feet (100 meters) in 9.58 seconds in 2012. Usain Bolt’s speed translated to about 28 mph, which is far below the speed of a cheetah. Although Cheetah is so fast sprinting like a racing car, it cannot maintain these speeds for long. Scientists estimate that cheetahs can run at top speed for up to 1600 feet (about 500 meters). Over a long-distance, humans can outrun cheetahs.
Distribution Of Cheetahs
In the past, Cheetahs were found across the world. However, their populations have plummeted, and they are now found sparsely in different parts of Africa. In Africa, cheetahs have lost 76% of their habitats. They are now found in 6% of their previous habitat range in East Africa. Asiatic cheetahs are found only in Iran. Their historical range was in areas such as the coastal areas of Aral and Caspian seas, Arabian and Mediterranean peninsula, Central India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Threats Facing Cheetahs
One of the greatest threats facing cheetahs today is their habitat loss. Humans have encroached on their habitats for settlement, development, and agriculture. The estimated populations of cheetahs were about 100,000 a century ago. Now they are less than 7,000.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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