When discussing the fastest land animals, here, we’re going by the highest speed an animal can reach, whether it’s only for a few seconds or a few hours, over one mile or twenty miles
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
The fastest land animal in the world, a cheetah can accelerate from 0 – 60 mph in only 3 seconds, faster than a sport car accelerates, Cheetah are so damn magnificent! The fastest cheetah in the world named Sarah cheetah from the Cincinnati Zoo covered 100 meters and clocked a peak speed of 61 mph (98 kph), a world record in 5.95 seconds. Cheetah’s body has evolved for speed, with long legs, an elongated spine, adapted claws to grip the ground and a long tail for balance. Its bodies grow to between 3.5 and 4.5 feet long, plus a tail measuring 25.5 to 31.5 inches and their weight ranges from 77-143 pounds, males being slightly heavier.
Cheetah is threatened by loss of habitat and prey, as well as conflict with humans a result, today; an estimated 9,000-12,000 remain in Africa.
Pronghorn Antelope (antilocapra americana).
At first peek, it seems that pronghorns have no business being as fast as they are. Pronghorn antelope which is only found in North America is the second fastest animal with 55mph (88Km/h). Pronghorns in general are very good at burning through large amounts of oxygen. On the cellular level, pronghorn blood contains more hemoglobin than most other animals. This allows the blood itself to carry more oxygen to the muscles than the “regular blood” of similarly sized animals, thus allowing the muscles to contract better and quicker.
Not a big animal, an adult pronghorn stands about 3-3.5 feet from hoof to shoulder, and weighs from 90 to 130 lbs.
Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) .
They are antelopes, belonging to the gazelle tribe, and can be found in southern Africa. Their name comes from the Afrikaans and Dutch words for spring meaning jump and bok meaning male antelope, or goat. Springboks are exceptionally fast and can attain speeds of 55 mph (88 km/h) over short distances. They can also make sharp turns when running and jump up to 13 feet (4 m) through the air. Unlike pronghorns, they don’t have great endurance over long distances. The Springbok is also the national symbol of South Africa.
Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus). The Blue wildebeest is one of the most unique species of antelope that appears to have been created from the spare parts of different animals such as ox’s head, horse’s tail and buffalo’s horns. There are two species: the black wildebeest and the blue wildebeest and both are exceptionally fast, especially over long distances with 50mph (50km/h). When Blue Wildebeests spot an approaching predator, they bunch together, stamp on the ground and utter loud alarm calls to alert all members of their herd and run in large herds. Besides their natural predators and outbreaks of disease, the population of Blue Wildebeest gets affected by a number of human-related factors like large-scale deforestation, expansion of human settlements and illegal hunting.
Other Name(s): Common Wildebeest, Brindled Gnu, White-bearded Wildebeest.
Lion (Panthera leo).
Even though the lion is sometimes referred to as the “king of the jungle,” it actually only lives in grasslands and plains and the perfect blend of strength and agility enables the lion to dominate other predators in its habitat. It is the second fastest big cat, lions can move at 50 mph (80.5 km/h) in short distance. They quickly become exhausted, therefore they depend on sneaking up as close as possible to their prey beforehand. Lions are unique among cats in that they live in a pride. Male lions defend the pride’s territory while females do most of the hunting. Despite this, the males eat first. A good gauge of a male lion’s age is the darkness of his mane, the darker the mane, the older the lion. A lion’s roar can be heard from as far as 5 miles (8km) away.
- Nowak, Ronald M. (7 April 1999). Walker’s Mammals of the World. JHU Press. p. 1193. ISBN 9780801857898.
- Carwardine, Mark (2008). Animal Records. New York: Sterling. pp. 11, 43. ISBN 9781402756238.