Who doesn't love cheetahs?
After all, they're the champion land sprinters of the animal world--able to top speeds of 60 miles an hour over short distances.
But did you know that these cats are endangered?
You might wonder how the world's fastest land animal could be losing the race for survival. Here are a few reasons:
No Room to Run - These swift, long-legged runners need lots of wide-open land. As people take over more and more of the places where they live, cheetahs have less and less space to roam—and so they are dying off.
Lose the Fight - Secondly, cheetahs may be great at tracking down prey, but they aren't built to fight. Lions or other fierce animals often charge in to steal a cheetah's fresh catch. And guess who loses out? Yup! The cheetahs! That means they may go hungry.
Health Problems - Finally, many cheetahs aren't born very healthy. Why? There are so few left in the wild that they end up mating within a small group. And that means, they often all share the same traits. Certain diseases and physical problems can be passed down through families. So these cheetahs aren't as strong and tough as they would be if they could mate within a wider group of unrelated cheetahs.
Groups such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund are working to help protect cheetahs in the wild. You can find out more about their work at http://www.cheetah.org