- Cheetahs rely on their exceptional eyesight to hunt, observing herds from elevated positions like trees.
- They primarily target young animals as they are more vulnerable and easier to capture.
- Cheetahs employ a stalking technique, crouching low and freezing when necessary to remain concealed during the hunt.
This slow-motion capture of a cheetah hunting a hartebeest gives us a front-seat view of a magnificent predator and an equally magnificent prey animal. The combination of speed, technique, and power displayed by the cheetah is awesome. Scroll down to watch the full video of this amazing encounter.
What Prey Do Cheetahs Normally Catch?
Cheetahs are often described as a ‘medium-sized’ big cat. They can weigh up to 143 pounds and their body length is up to 53 inches. What they lack in size they make for in agility and speed!
Their prey are almost entirely ungulates – hooved animals such as this hartebeest. However, their diet varies by where they live. For example, cheetahs living in Kruger National Park have a diet made up of 65 percent impala.
Compare this to cheetahs in Masai Mara whose diet is made up of 41 percent Thompson’s gazelle. This hartebeest may look quite large to you but a cheetah can eat 30 pounds of meat in one sitting!
What Is a Cheetah’s Hunting Strategy?
In this clip, we are joining the cheetah at the end of their hunting strategy. So prior to this chase, there had been a lot going on!
Cheetahs usually hunt by sight, watching herds from a high vantage point such as a tree. Their preference is for young animals as these are easier to catch. Next comes stalking in a semi-crouched position, head lowered, and freezing when needed so that they stay hidden. When they are within around 150 feet, the chase can start! There is something about the chase that intensifies the hunting instincts of the cheetah and they have even been known to walk away from animals that do not run.
These guys are very fast – they have an average chase speed of 40 mph but can reach 70 mph when needed. However, they need the chase to be over quickly (usually within 20 seconds) because they cannot maintain these speeds for very long. In this particular case, it looks as if the cheetah has been successful and has rapidly brought the hartebeest to the ground.
Watch the Impressive Footage Below
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