Africa is home to some of the fastest land animals in the world. Lions, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and even zebras are known for their speed.
With Africa’s high population of large carnivores like lions, cheetahs, and leopards – it’s no wonder its animals have evolved with such astonishing speed. Without this ability to outrun their predators, they would have become extinct long ago.
Speed over ground:
Cheetahs are known to be the fastest animal on land, reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph). They can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds!
Speed over hurdles:
Zebras are fast runners and can jump very high – making them excellent at navigating over obstacles and fences that other animals cannot. But they don’t compare in speed to cheetahs or African wild dogs.
This article mentions the fastest animals on land and can break records when trying to overtake prey or get away from predators – especially when running in a straight line.
Interestingly, these animals can run multiple miles per hour. Animals found across Africa vary and can move pretty quickly. These animals are good at making it out of difficult situations. This animal can run fast and jump up to eight feet high.
Below are four of the world’s fastest animals, among others, who live in the African grasslands.
A cheetah is a large, slightly spotted cat and mammalian land animal that live in the savannas and semi-deserts of Africa. With a small rounded head, long thin legs, and black tear-like facial streaks, this creature is beautiful in its agility.
Cheetahs are found in many habitats, from desert to savanna to rain forest. They live close to the ground and use trees to get a good vantage point for spotting prey.
They are the fastest mammals on land, reaching speeds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph). This high-speed results from cheetahs’ anatomy and hunting techniques.
Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world. They can reach up to 113 km/h (70 mph) in short bursts but can’t maintain that speed for more than a few seconds. Cheetahs use their tails as a rudder when running, so they can turn quickly and change directions.
According to the world’s rating, the Cheetah is Africa’s fastest land resident. Cheetahs are so fast that any other land animal cannot outrun them. They can sprint at up to 75 mph speeds and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just three seconds.
Origin and habitat of Cheetah
Though it might seem common knowledge that the discovery of the Cheetah first happened in Africa, it appeared in North America before Africa. The first Cheetah migrated from North America about 4 million years back and later to Africa.
Cheetah originated in India, and the first breeding was during the Mughal Empire in the 16th century.
One can find Cheetahs generally in many African countries like Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia, Southern Algeria, Northern Niger, and Central Iran.
Cheetahs are endangered animals found in Africa and parts of Asia. You can find cheetahs in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. However, they risk extinction as human activity destroys their habitat.
The name Cheetah came from the Hindi word Chita and the Sanskrit word Chitraka which means “spotted.” The scientific name of the Cheetah is Acinonyx Jubatus. It means “the spotted one,” which accurately reflects their fur.
They live in areas with some of the highest African populations, like Kenya and Namibia. Cheetahs have a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and scrublands.
A baby cheetah is ‘a cub’, a female cheetah is ‘AlexandraAaaawww’ while a group of Cheetah ‘a coalition.’
Classification of Cheetah
The Cheetah belongs to the African animals known as the fleet-footed inhabitants of the savannahs.
Cheetahs are warm-blooded, meat-eating animals whose diet ranges from warthogs, antelopes, gazelles, hares, birds, and wildebeests.
Cheetah belongs to the genus species “Acinonyx jubatus,” with Acinonyx implying “no-move-claw” in Greek, and jubatus, meaning “maned” in Latin.
The Cheetah is another of Africa’s fastest animals and the fastest animal in the world. Cheetahs change their speed depending on what they’re hunting, and while they can’t beat someone with a car, they are second to none when chasing down prey.
The Cheetah’s top speed is 70 mph, which can move up to 130km/h because of its flexibility. They are good at swimming but only in emergencies or when they’re in danger.
Though it depends on the records, a cheetah’s top speed can reach up to 109.4 km/h (68.0 mph) or more, with the fastest reliable speed being 98 km/h (61 mph).
Cheetahs can weigh anywhere from 46 – 159 pounds, but the body size is not always indicative of weight.
Cheetahs are known to have golden tan coat with black spots. They have long, sharp teeth that they use to eat prey. Also, Cheetah has about 2000 spots on its body, each with a unique pattern and style.
They have tails that range between 60 and 84 cm in length, which enables them to run fast at speeds of up to 75 mph.
The social life
Cheetahs live semi-social life. They prefer to spend most of their time alone and are solitary hunters. Other animals may move in groups or have territories that need defending.
Cheetahs generally tend to stray between socializing and being solitary. Although they usually spend time alone, they often interact when looking for a mate or tending to their young.
Cheetah’s life cycle
The life cycle of a cheetah consists of 3 different stages:
Cheetah’s Cub stage: The cub stage is from birth to 18 months.
Adolescence: It begins from the age of 18 months to 12 years.
The adult stage of a cheetah’s life lasts between 2 to 3 years before death.
Characteristics of Cheetah
A cheetah’s significant features include:
- It’s semi-retractable claws.
- Long tail
iii. Flexible spine.
- Long legs that enable it to run a very far distance per hour more than other animals.
The subcategories of other characteristics which the cheetah exhibit include the following:
1. Makes meow sound
Cheetahs make a much more pleasant sound than other predators. In addition, they do not roar at all, as their voice box is stable.
2. Sharp eyes
One of the features of the Cheetah is its sharp eye, making it an outstanding hunter.
Unlike a typical house cat, the Cheetah has sharp eyes that allow it to see well in different directions. They can view objects up to 210 degrees away.
Interestingly, this animal can catch their prey even in the daytime.
3. Tear lines on the eye region
Cheetahs have tear lines or cuts around the eye region, which run down to the mouth. These tears allow it to withstand the sun, unlike other mammals, such as cats and dogs.
4. Natural camouflage
Besides its intelligence, another feature of a Cheetah is its coat which lets it adapt to the environment.
Cheetahs also have spots on their body that help them blend in with the ground to avoid their enemies. For example, Lions, Hyenas, Baboons, and Jackals are all aggressive animals, and the Cheetah wants to be able to hide from them.
5. Eat more food than water.
Cheetahs mainly eat meat, so they focus on catching younger or weaker animals to provide food for themselves. They don’t drink water daily since their main goal is hunting wild prey.
The Wildebeest is one of the fastest land mammals, also called Gnu Connochaetes. It has a lot of predators, like lions, wild dogs, and hyenas, to name a few.
There are two species of wildebeests: black wildebeest, or whitetail wildebeest and blue wildebeest.
The common name for a group of Wildebeest is “confusion.”
Speed range of Wildebeest
Wildebeest are one of the fastest mammals on land and can reach speeds of 40mph or 80km/h.
Wildebeests may outrun a lion on the flat, but they take time to develop their running skills. This puzzle of animals walks in just a few minutes after being born!
Classification of wildebeest
Wildebeest belong to the Antelope family, such as sheep and goats, and are herbivorous animals meaning that they feed on plants and grass to survive.
It belongs to the mammalian class, land mammals, usually called the giant African Antelopes, inhabiting mainly plain grassy areas and open woodlands.
Origin of the Wildebeest
Wildebeest have been around for one million years, but their first discovery was in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Eberhard von Zimmermann, a German, is said to be the first to discover Wildebeest. This animal was first seen in South Africa by Dutch settlers who found it in 1700 during their journey there.
Then in the 1800s, the northern part of southern Africa learns about blue Wildebeest.
The first people to discover Wildebeest named them because they looked similar to wild cattle. However, the German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein renamed them ‘Connochaetes’ in 1812.
These animals are native to Africa and have a higher level of migration. They move around in considerable numbers to different continents.
The life cycle of a wildebeest
The black Wildebeest carries the pregnancy for about 257 days. The reproduction of a single calf or Wildebeest happens about 8½ months per annum.
The calves don’t start eating grass until they’re about ten days old, but for six months, they only drink the milk from their mother.
Wildebeests live up to 20 years in the wild. Male calves usually leave their mothers after 12 months and live as bachelors for several years before adulthood, when they join an adult herd.
Physical features of Wildebeest
Wildebeests can measure about 1.5 meters and weigh from 330 to 550 kilograms. Again, it measures up to 4.5 feet high, with even- toes and horns, like goats and sheep.
Among female wildebeests, the brown color is lighter, while in male wildebeests, the natural brown color prevails.
The wildebeest species with dark grey color and stripes also called bleu wildebeest or Gnu, has a bluish sheen to some parts of its body. The other one has a cream underbelly and brown fur on its neck.
Wildbeests’s social life
The Wildebeest is not as territorial as the Cheetah. The females often form families and make territories that overlap with other groups. Younger animals are usually friendly, but older ones will attack outsiders.
Characteristics of a wildebeest
i. Reproduce at the beginning of the year
Every year between February and March, younger wildebeests are born to the tune of roughly 500,000.
ii. Box-like head
Wildebeest, just like every other member of the Antelope family, have a big box-like head and curving horns that are not too short.
iii. Heavily built body
Like all other animals of a similar size, the Wildebeest has a heavy build and slender limbs.
iv. Makes special sound
Wildebeest makes some great vocalizations like ‘low’ and ‘moo.’
3. The Lion
Among the fastest land animals in Africa, the lion is one.
They are known as the giant cat of Earth because they belong to the Felidae family of mammals in the order Carnivora, which includes powerful cats.
Speed range of a lion
The lion is an exciting animal running for the fastest land animal in the world. It can also reach up to 50mph and leap over 36 feet.
Classification of lion
Lions are among the well-known animals on the African continent. They belong to the mammal family and have warm-blooded bodies. They are carnivorous animals, meaning they feed on other animals.
A lion is one of the land animals that naturally live within a ‘den.’ People call it the king of the jungles because they have raw power and strength to get their food.
Origin of lion
Lions have been around for a long time. They were first discovered 1 million years ago and became extinct about 2 million years ago.
Modern lions emerged from different parts of eastern and southern Africa between 500,000 and 1.6 million years ago.
Habitat and life cycle
Lions live around 10-15 years in the wild before they die. They usually hunt at night and can reproduce up to two cubs every two years.
Female lions stay pregnant for about 108 days, giving birth to 2-5 cubs in one litter.
A lioness is a female counterpart, and a young lion is called “a cub.” Groups of lions are known as “prides.”
A lion spends most of its life sleeping and resting; it can sleep for around 16 hours daily. They stay awake at night to avoid exposure to other predators that are active at night.
Physical nature of a lion
Lions are mammals and have, like other animals, lots of furs. They usually have strong front legs with which they can grab their prey and sharp teeth because they have to eat meat.
It has a yellow gold coating and weighs between 330 to 550 pounds, depending on its age and size.
Female lions have a height of 3.5′ to 4′, while male lions range between 10 and 10′. The tail lengths are also different, ranging from 2 to 3 feet.
Lions have very sharp vision, even more, sensitive than humans. One of the reasons is that they can see faraway prey.
The social life of a lion
Lions are among the sociable animals that are friendly with one another. So, we always see them in groups.
Some might say that rabbits are just meat, but we believe they’re hard-working mammals that love challenges.
Animals communicate with the sounds of their roars, grunts, moans, growls, snarls, purrs, and hums. The most widely recognized sound is a dog’s bark.
Characteristics of Lion
- They are brave
Lions are a brave set of animals with four senses, and they are always courageous too, which is why they can challenge any animal despite its size.
The lion is fearless, and everyone in the jungle is scared.
- Always protective
The lion is an aggressive creature that always protects its territory and its young.
- They are hunters
In general, lions are adventurous hunters and look for other animals to hunt for food. Lions usually hunt alone or in small groups.
- It is an apex predator.
It is one unique character of a lion; it hunts most animals vividly in the jungle, and some animals easily beat it in the forest.
Though the lion is considered the “king of the jungle,” they have their share of predators. For instance, hyenas, wild dogs, crocodiles, and cheetahs are just a few that pose threats to lions.
4. Thomson’s Gazelle
Thomson’s Gazelle is the most well-known of all the gazelles that quickly move and jump at high speed before running away.
Thomson’s Gazelle is among the land mammals that have a fast speed and is resident in Africa. It usually stays near water sources such as rivers, lakes, or marshes.
You can see Thompson’s Gazelle in different parts of Africa traveling in a massive groups exceeding 2,000.
Although it moves slowly, an armadillo can reach speeds of 45 mph within an hour.
Fact: Thomson’s Gazelles are warm-blooded, meaning their body temperature is higher than the temperature of the environment.
Classification of Thomson’s gazelle
Another fastest land animal is Thomson’s Gazelle, a species of Antelope, under mammals in the family of the Bovidae.
There are two types of Thomson’s Gazelle: the Grant Gazelle and the Thomson’s Gazelle – herbivores that feed on herbs and green grass.
“Eudorcas thomsonii” is its scientific name, and it lives mostly in eastern Africa, mainly Kenya, Tanzania, and the Serengeti.
Speed Range of Thomson’s Gazelle
As the fourth fastest land animal, Thomson’s Gazelle reaches up to 55 miles per hour, approximately 80-90 kilometers per hour.
Origin of Thomson’s Gazelle
A British gentleman, Joseph Thomson, explored and named a gazelle found in Africa. He called it “Tommie” after himself.
The first inhabitants of eastern Africa emerged many years ago, and they’re still central to the continent.
The Thomson’s gazelle is one of the largest gazelles. It has a gestation period of 166 days and can live up to 10 to 15 years. They primarily inhabit in Savannahs and grasslands.
Female Thomson gazelles carry their pregnancy for about 280 days before they give birth to one or two young ones.
It has many animals that hunt it, such as cheetahs, cape dogs, leopards, wolves, and others.
Thomson’s gazelles only sleep for one hour every 24 hours and sometimes swim when there is danger.
A group of Thomson’s Gazelle is called a ‘herd’; their young ones are ‘young calves, fawns, or calves.
Physical nature of a Thomson’s Gazelle
The Thomson’s Gazelle has horns that remain permanently. The two classes of Gazelle are brown and white.
Thomson’s Gazelle is an agile, tall animal that runs as fast as 55km/h. They are long and measure roughly 90-120 cm, making them one of the fastest herbivores in Africa.
Again, the average weight of this particular type of land mammal range from 26 to 187 pounds or 12 to 85 kg.
In contrast, Thomson’s Gazelle stands around 1.7 meters tall with a shoulder length of about 70 cm.
Social Life of Thomson’s Gazelle
Thomson’s Gazelles are social animals that live in herds where they reside. Over 200 Thomson Gazelle migrate each year because they need water or food.
Characteristics of Thomson’s Gazelle
- They are pretty silent animals
Gazelles communicate primarily with movements, unlike other animals like cows that don’t. They negotiate for food by waving their tails and other signals.
1. They are wet feeders.
Thomson’s Gazelle eat mostly ground vegetation during the rainy season, but it feeds on browsing more in the dry season. It is especially true for bushes and clovers.
2. Signals in danger
They flick their tales when they sense danger.
The following mammals are the fastest in Africa, thanks to their unparalleled speeds.
We also curated unique features, life cycles, physical characteristics, and other things readers need to know to enable them to study everything in one place.