The cheetah's natural habitat includes open and partially open plains, and these animals are primarily found in the savannah of Sub-Saharan Africa. A small population of cheetahs still live in Iran, and the historical range for these big cats once extended from South Africa into India.
The current habitat that supports cheetahs is about 25 percent of its original size. Fewer than 10,000 cheetahs remain in the wild. Habitat fragmentation has caused small populations of cheetahs to become isolated from each other, limiting genetic exchange between populations. Many of the cheetahs' traditional prey animals have been over-hunted by humans, and conflicts between cheetahs and people over livestock deaths sometimes lead to the killing of cheetahs. Inbreeding has left cheetahs vulnerable to disease and disabilities, and most cubs do not survive past the first few months of life. Cheetahs are considered an endangered animal because of their low population numbers and reduced habitat.
The savannah gives cheetahs vegetative cover for stalking their prey and open areas to chase their prey. A wild cheetah's diet typically includes wildebeests, gazelles, hares and birds. Cheetahs, which are the fastest land animal on earth, primarily hunt in the late morning and early evening. A single chase lasts just 20 to 60 seconds. Most chases are unsuccessful, and when a cheetah does succeed in bringing down prey, it must eat quickly before other carnivores arrive on the scene.