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Speed Racers

February 17, 2016

5 cool facts about cheetahs.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

1. Male cheetahs are social

They often form groups of two, three, or more, often brothers, and defend their territory together.

2. Females are promiscuous

They don't form groups or defend space, but range across the males' territories and can mate with many. A female can even give birth to cubs from different fathers within the same litter.

3. Their speed kills

Reaching speeds of up to 64 mph (103 kmh), or 29 meters per second, cheetahs are the Usain Bolts of carnivores. This is key to their hunting success.

When it comes to defending their hard-won prey, though, they could be a bit more Muhammad Ali—they lose out to hungry lions and hyenas every time.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

4. Cheetahs are losing ground

They once ranged across almost the entire continent of Africa and a vast part of Asia, too. Today, as their habitat is steadily reduced by man's expansion, their numbers have dwindled. Cheetahs are now limited to only 13% of their historical African range; in Asia they remain in only a single part of Iran.

5. You can help track them

Most essential to cheetah conservation is establishing where the animals still exist and where the species is in trouble. Scientists rely on all kinds of travelers to report cheetah sightings in order to keep track of the species' conservation status. Got photos to share? Simply upload them and locate them on the map.

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