Cheetahs are the undisputed king of speed – at least over the relatively small distances. They are stunning animals, and any sighting is a memory to be treasured.

Cheetah numbered as much as 100,000 wild members just one century ago. Now there is just 7000-8000. What happened? Well a large part of their decline is down to habitat loss. Unlike other cats, cheetah thrive outside protected reserves. This is not because cheetah never get killed by farmers – there are certainly problems, and some will be killed, however compared to the problems that the cheetah have when pushed into small reserves which dont allow enough space to get away from lions and leopards. In South Africa, as much as half of the cheetah population (which is about 1000) live on farm land. Despite the fact that they kill very little livestock, and indeed can actually benefit farmers by eating vermin that might eat crops.

Generally, cheetah live at low densities (except in the best reserves- places like the Serengeti, where their sprint ability is so useful) for instance, the Kruger which is the size of Wales, tends to only have a 100-200 cheetah in the whole area.

This makes them hard to see in the wild. On the other hand, one of the benefits is that Cheetah tend to hunt in the day (they hunt by site) and as such, if you go out in after lunch when most wildlife are lying in the shade.

All this means, that there is definitely a possibility to greatly improve their wild numbers, through a combination of removing poaching, and reintroducing them to places where they existed in the past.              

This is a cheetah that we encountered on a kill, on our last trip to the Kruger

There are currently 5 recognized subspecies of the cheetah, 4 in Africa, and the last few remaining in Iran. 

  • The northwestern africa cheetah is close to extinction (200 maximum – also known as the Saharan cheetah) is only seen occasionally and so is not one tourists go to see.
  • The north-east cheetah lives in South Sudan and Ethiopia and numbers between 1000-4000 (its status in Sudan, Eritria, Doubouti and Somalia is unknown.
  • The only remaining habitat of the Asiatic cheetah is in Iran where it is thought only 12 animals remain. It was lost from India 70 years ago.
The other two subspecies – are both well protected and well studied. These are represented in many of the reserves that we have listed (We hope to add reserves that cover the other subspecies as well, but these will be far harder to find the animal). 
  • Southern African Cheetah 
  • East African Cheetah                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Some of the biggest and most well protected Cheetah populations – to go and see them for yourself.

  • Kruger -400 with the south African population being around 1300
  • Serengeti massai mara ecosystem up to 1000
  • Namibia – reserves and free roaming, account for up to 3500 ( that high may be lower)
  • Botswana hosts around 1700 cheetah

Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti

It should be noted that adding up these estimates already exceed the African cheetah population, but this is the case with plenty of reserves – an overestimate in the number of the species in an area often makes people more willing to visit. Possibly as this website grows we might be able to help in correcting this.

The Saharan cheetah roams a large area around the fringes of the Saharan desert, and only has around 100 wild members at the current time.

Other species in the Cheetah lineage (it shares its clade with nothing else) include the Jaguarundi and the Mountain Lion

Alternatively, to visit the rest of the cat family click here.

See Animals Wild
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