Capable of running up to 110 km/h (70 MPH), cheetahs are the fastest land animal. Adults weigh about 60 kg (132 lb.).
In the wild, their most important prey are medium-sized hoofed animals such as gazelles, impalas and waterbucks. Having eaten their fill, cheetahs rarely return to the kill and will eat carrion only under dire circumstances.
Easily tamed, throughout human history cheetahs were trained for hunting expeditions by peoples as diverse as the ancient Sumerians, the Egyptian pharaohs and, as late as the 10th century, by the Duke of Normandy who was known as William the Conqueror.
There are two subspecies of cheetah, the African and the Asian. Once plentiful across most of Africa, Asia Minor and India, the cheetah has been hunted to extinction in India. As of 2000, the sole remaining remnant population of the Asian form is only in northern Iran and is highly endangered. The only significant populations of the endangered African form are in the game reserves of eastern and southwestern Africa.
The expansion of human settlements in Africa is a threat to the cheetah's habitat and prey. As well, zoo collectors, and ranchers who kill cheetahs in order to protect their flocks have had an impact on the cheetah's decline. Even in national parks and other reserves the animals, in their isolation, are very susceptible to disease and competition from other carnivores.