How many species of cheetah are there?

The cheetah is a large cat in the subfamily Felinae. They occur mainly in South and East Africa, as well as in Iran. The animals belong to the genus Acinonyx and are characterized by a slender body, a spotted coat, black stripes like tears, a deep chest, long thin legs and a spotted tail. Here is a description of the five existing subspecies of cheetah.

5. Tanzanian cheetah

Tanzanian cheetah, also known as Kenyan cheetah or East African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus Raineyi) comes from East Africa. This subspecies of cheetah inhabits the savannas and grasslands of Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya. The IUCN calls subspecies vulnerable such as predators, the mortality of cheetah cubs and habitat loss threaten the survival of these animals. The Tanzanian cheetah is the second largest population of cheetahs after the South African subspecies. However, in three DRC countries, Rwanda and Burundi, these animals are regionally extinct. It is the largest subspecies of cheetah, measuring between 110 and 135 cm from head to body. It is the second pale subspecies after the cheetah of northwest Africa. Hair color varies from white-yellow to tannic. Cheetahs of color variations such as melanism and ticks were also found. The cat has numerous round black spots on most of the body except on the white underside. These spots merge with the tail end and form 4 to 14 dark rings with a white tuft on top of the tail.

4. Sudanese cheetah

The Sudanese cheetah, also known as the Somali cheetah, the Central African cheetah or the Northeast African cheetah, (Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii) lives in savannas, grasslands, deserts and arid regions of central and northeastern Africa. The population is fragmented in many parts of its territory and almost extinct in Sudan. These cheetahs are threatened with habitat loss and smuggling to the Middle East and have been classified as endangered by the IUCN. The Sudanese cheetah looks very similar to the Tanzanian cheetah. The black hindquarters of the cheetah are the most common and separate, but are smaller than the Tanzanian subspecies. However, there is no space on the hind legs.

3. South African cheetah

South African cheetah or Namibian cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) is the most numerous subspecies of cheetah. The cheetah can be found in the savannas of the Okavango delta, the grasslands of the Transvaal, the agricultural lands of Namibia and the arid areas of the Kalahari. Although it has the largest population among other subspecies, the South African cheetah faces significant threats due to human activities. It became extinct in Malawi, Lesotho and DR Congo. The wild cat is of medium size, and the adult male is about six to two meters long. The South African cheetah has a gold or light yellow coat and a white underside. Animal spots are denser than other subspecies and are more pronounced on the face.

2. Northwest African cheetah

Northwest African cheetah, also known as Saharan cheetah or Senegalese cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus Hucki), is native to northwest Africa. It is one of the most endangered subspecies of cheetah and is classified by the IUCN as critically endangered. Only about 250 mature individuals survive in the wild. The appearance of the cheetah is very different from other subspecies. The animal’s hair is almost white and shorter, with spots on the back gradually disappearing from black to brown on the legs. There are almost no blemishes on the face, and even traces of tears are often missing.

1. Asian cheetah

Asian Cheetah or Iranian Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is the rarest of all subspecies of cheetah and occurs only in Iran. The distribution of this animal once spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, and even to India. However, the IUCN has now classified it as critically endangered. It now survives only in protected areas of Iran. This subspecies of cheetah separated from its African counterpart between 32,000 and 67,000 a few years ago. The Asian cheetah has light brown to light brown fur. The head and neck have small black spots that are arranged in lines.

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