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Carnivores, cheetah mainly prey upon antelopes and gazelles.They will stalk their prey to within 100–300 m (330–980 ft), charge towards it and kill it by tripping it during the chase and biting its throat to suffocate it to death.Although the cheetah is an Old World cat, molecular evidence indicates that the three species of the Puma lineage evolved in North America two to three million years ago, where they possibly had a common ancestor during the Miocene.

Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the big cats, making it more similar to the cougar.By 2016, the global cheetah population has been estimated at approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild.Several African countries have taken steps to improve cheetah conservation measures. The only extant member of the genus Acinonyx, the cheetah was formally described by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1775.The following table is based on the classification of the species provided in Mammal Species of the World.

It occurs in Southern and East African countries including Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

However, a phylogenetic analysis in 1990 placed these species under the genus Miracinonyx.