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Animal cheetah

The cheetah was first described in the late 18th century. Four subspecies are recognised today that are native to Africa and central Iran. An African subspecies was introduced to India in 2022. It is now distributed mainly in small, fragmented populations in northwestern, eastern and southern Africa and central Iran. It lives in a variety of habitats such as savannahs in the Serengeti, arid mountain ranges in the Sahara and hilly desert terrain. The cheetah lives in three main social groups: females and their cubs, male "coalitions", and solitary males. While females lead a nomadic life searching for prey in large home ranges, males are more sedentary and instead establish much smaller territories in areas with plentiful prey and access to females. The cheetah is active during the day, with peaks during dawn and dusk. It feeds on small- to medium-sized prey, mostly weighing under 40 kg (88 lb), and prefers medium-sized ungulates such as impala, springbok and Thomson's gazelles. The cheetah typically stalks its prey within 60–100 m (200–330 ft) before charging towards it, trips it during the chase and bites its throat to suffocate it to death. It breeds throughout the year. After a gestation of nearly three months, females give birth to a litter of three or four cubs. Cheetah cubs are highly vulnerable to predation by other large carnivores. They are weaned at around four months and are independent by around 20 months of age. The cheetah is threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans, poaching and high susceptibility to diseases. In 2016, the global cheetah population was estimated at 7,100 individuals in the wild; it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It has been widely depicted in art, literature, advertising, and animation. It was tamed in ancient Egypt and trained for hunting ungulates in the Arabian Peninsula and India. It has been kept in zoos since the early 19th century.

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