Although the cheetah was exterminated in India in the 1950s, they are still found on the open plains of tropical Africa. Two species exist: A. jubatus and the uncommon A. rex of east central Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), both endangered
Cheetahs before other large cats. The cheetah's elegant spotted coat caught the eye of ancient civilizations. And the word "cheetah" is derived from "spotted one" in the Hindi language. The cheetah is not a close relative of other bigs cats, such as lions and tigers, they are very different.
Cheetahs evolved much earlier than other large cats, arising from a cat-like mammal that lived about 4 million years ago. Their bodies are different then lions, tigers, and other cats in many ways. Cheetah claws don't retract like other cats This is because the cheetah needs the extra traction during high-speed sprints. Cheetahs don't growl! They hiss or emit a bird-like chirp. They don't didn't evolve the vocal ability to roar.
Cheetah bodies are specifically built for speed. Their small head offers very little wind resistance, while their exceptionally long legs allow them to take huge strides. During sprints, the cheetah spine acts like a giant spring, storing energy that can be released in explosive surges. And the cheetah's enlarged heart, lungs, and liver help deliver bursts of oxygen and energy. Don Person, a Dutch biologist who studies cheetahs in East Africa say that because of this, "They are speed demons."
Humans apply the name "cheetah" to both sexes: there are no special gender names. Two groups exist in wild populations: the family group and males. Males, often siblings, form a coalition of 2 or 3; rarely 1 will live alone. This coalition will live and hunt together for life and claims a range which may overlap several female territories. Young males seek out an area at a great distance from their parent; sometimes as far as 300 miles (482km). The average size of male territories is 37.4 km2.
Young females usually cover the same range as their mothers. Females are solitary except when they have a litter. Their average home range extends to 833 km2. Males and females mix only to mate: the male does not participate in cub-raising. The average life span of wild female cheetahs is 6.9 years which compares to 11.7 years for those in captivity.
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