Endangered Species: Cheetah

A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Larry from Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, VA, U.S.A.


Photographer Unknown

Why Study This Topic? What Was Already Known Search for Information Description of Plant or Animal Habitat Requirements
Adaptations Reasons for Endangerment Restoration Actions What Was Learned Conclusions from Research

Why Study This Topic?

  I picked this topic, because I want to find out why the cheetah is a great sprinter. For example, the cheetah can get to its top speed of 60 miles per hour in only three seconds. That is as fast as a car. I also wanted to find out why the cheetah is so endangered. Is it because no one cares about it, or are people killing it for its skin? I also wanted to know why the color of the cheetah is copper with black dots. I am also interested in my animal, because if it dies from pollution that means peole might die too.

What Was Already Known

  Before I searched, I knew a little about the cheetah. For one thing, I knew the cheetah can run fast. I also knew it also has yellow and black dots. Another thing that I knew was It can run about 60 miles per hour, and that is almost faster than some cars. Still another fact I knew was the cheetah's legs must be strong, because it runs so fast. I knew too that the cheetah, like the lion, lives in Africa and it is endanger of becoming extinct.

Search for Information

  I asked Mrs. Ney if I could go down to the library at the school to check a book out about Cheetahs. I did not find a book just about cheetahs. I found a book called Big Cats by N.S. Barrett. I also fcund the cheetah under the chapter called "Spotted Cats". It gave me some information about the Cheetah. This was the only book that had anything about cheetahs. It took me about ten minutes to find it. Then I found other information on the Internet. I found page called "Cheetah Survival Page". It gave me a lot of good information.

Description of Plant or Animal

  The cheetah has white and black spots on its stomach and legs. Its sides are gold, black, and a little white. Its back is mostly a copper and black color, and its head is copper with black streaks near its eyes.   The shape of the cheetah is like a Grayhound dog, but is longer and skinnier than a normal dog. It is built for speed, because it has to catch its prey, including antelope, wildebeast, and zebra. The cheetah is about four feet long, not counting its tail. It also has a small head with spike-like hair that stands up on its neck.   The cheetah is small compared to other big cats. It only weighs between 86 and 143 pounds, but it can kill animals twice its size.

Habitat Requirements

  The cheetah hunts in the daytime and on bright moonlit nights. It has to get close to its prey, about 33 feet away. Then it chases them, because cheetahs can only run at their top speed for about 300 yards. It isn't a good hunter, because it catches its prey only about half the time.   The cheetah's favorite food is the Thompson's gazelle. It will also eat impala, hares and wildebeast calves. The cheetah drinks from rivers and puddles. It lives in open dry parts of southern Asia and Africa. It lives in and around trees for protection and shade.


  Cheetahs and lions are not friends, because lions kill cheetahs. The lions can not catch the adult cheetah, so they go after the cubs. Another enemy of the cheetah is farmers, because cheetahs eat livestock. The farmers only know one way to stop it. That is to kill the cheetah.   The cheetah's camouflage color lets it blend in with the tall grass when hunting. Its slim body lets it lay in trees to rest.

Reasons for Endangerment

  The general habitat of cheetah is being destroyed by humans. This has reduced the prey on which it feeds. Hunting by farmers, who shoot them as vermin, has also reduced their numbers. The wild population has fallen to half its numbers since the 1970's. Now less than 5000-12000 are left.

Restoration Actions

  The cheetah is now protected in several countries, but still some countries allow as many as 700 to be killed each year by farmers. New laws have been written in some countries to help them to survive. Wildlife reservations have also been built to protect them and give them a more natural home.   After a lot of research, scientists are now breeding cheetahs in captivity . It was found that female cheetahs like to breed with strange male cheetahs. Some are being returned to the wild.

What Was Learned

  I learned that the word cheetah means "spotted one." It comes from the Hindu word "chita." The cheetah lived in North America, the Middle East, and Africa over 10,000 years ago. The cheetah was used for hunting and as symbols of nobility. The cheetah is different than a mountain lion, because it is skinny with thin legs, has a delicate skull, and a slight build so it can run faster. The modern cheetahs are the last of at least four cheetah species that lived in North America.

Conclusions From Research

  Cheetah numbers have decline to about 12,000. Where farmers are killing cheetahs, they are decreasing every year. People must stop this slaughter.   I learned that the library had a lot of information. I used the computer with the Internet and had the librarian help me find some books. I could only find one book with different information than I already found on the Internet. I also used my computer and encyclopedia I have at home.


Webster's Concise Encyclopedia, (1995). Helicon Publishing Ltd., Attica Cybernetics
Cook, David. Land Animals. UR Endangered Earth, Crown Publishers Inc., NY.
Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. L. L. Bram, Funk & Wagnalls, Inc.: NY.

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Christiansburg Elementary
Last updated on March 12, 1997