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- Herd animals like impalas rely on safety in numbers, but when a predator attacks, the one that strays from the rest often becomes a meal for the predator.
- An impala can reach speeds of up to 50 mph, but that’s no match for the cheetah’s 70 mph max speed.
- Watch nature in action in a video where one poor impala is targeted and captured by a super-swift cheetah.
The importance of a herd staying together is much more than just a mere saying that we hear. Schools of fish, pride, groups, and herds of animals all have the same thing in common the need to stay together for safety purposes. A lone animal in the wild is at the mercy of whatever predator lies nearby in wait.
However, a herd of animals together is much more difficult to attack. The predator risks multiple animals in the herd willing to gang up on the predator and attack them all at once. So, the predator will do their best to cut one off from the herd.
There is a shock factor involved when a herd is together. A herd, like the impalas seen below grazing, is not expecting there to be a predator coming in their midst. And so once a predator does show up, it causes mass panic, which is exactly what a predator wants. Mass panic almost always leads to an animal straying in a different direction than the rest of the herd, which gives the predator the opportunity it needs to catch it.
A Cheetah Springs Into Action and Isolates an Impala
In the case of the video shown below, we are taken to the great Masai Mara North Conservancy, where guide Daniel at the Saruni Mara is filming this experience. The guide stops the jeep because they see a herd of impalas just up ahead. Not only that, but they also see the world’s fastest land predator headed their way.
A cheetah has caught sight of this herd. And this cheetah has no issue striving to catch one of these impalas. He knows that he is the fastest in the land, and the cheetah has no fear when it comes to the chase.
As this herd is grazing, they suddenly notice the cheetah coming at them at full speed. We see mass panic happen, and the herd disperses as their lives depend on it. And their lives truly do depend on it.
If we stop the video at two seconds, we see the majority of the herd all running to their right in one cohesive move. However, we see one lone impala running straight. You might be thinking, why would they do that? And the answer is when a predator is chasing you, there is no room for second-guessing choices already made.
As you might have guessed, this cheetah can catch this impala in no time at all. We see the cheetah grab this impala by the throat and drag it away.
How Fast Can an Impala Run?
Impalas are small antelopes that weigh approximately 37-75 kilograms (81.6-165 pounds). These antelopes can run up to 50 miles per hour. And while impressive, it is nothing compared to the cheetah’s speed of 70 miles per hour.
Is It Normal for Cheetahs to Target Impala Herds?
It is in fact normal for cheetahs to hunt impala, as they are one of the staples of the cheetah’s diet. Other animals cheetahs consume include gazelles, antelope, springbok, steenbok, duikers, warthogs, kuku, oryx, hartebeeste, roan, sable, and smaller animals like rabbits or game birds.
Where the cheetah lives affects what it eats. For example, Asiatic cheetahs in Iran consume goitered gazelles, wild goats, and chinkara. Whereas, a cheetah in South Africa will mostly hunt Springbok, but also target impala, oribi, warthog, puku, steenbok, red hartebeest, cape hare, and gemsbok.
Cheetahs are unique in the large cat family because they do not use ambush-prey tactics. They will stalk their prey for as short a time as seconds to possibly hours, then take to chasing the targeted animal(s) once they are within 230 to 330 feet away. The chases are usually quick, averaging from 20 seconds to a minute max.
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