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Nature

Agile Assassin…

Cheetah hunting technique and threats

Mother cheetah and cubs
Cheetah and cubs by nickyduplessis28 from Pixabay

The fastest land animal in the world is also an incredibly adept killer and the chase usually ends within a minute.

It starts with a visual sighting of the potential prey and then a stalk to get within about 200 feet (60 m) of its target. At a point our cat will explode into action reaching around 68 mph (110km/h) in 3 seconds. Its long tail aids as a counter weight in balancing the cheetah as it twists and turns gaining on its terrified prey.

The cheetah needs to close the gap as quickly as possible, then trip its prey, manage to access the neck area through all the dust and desperately kicking legs, bite the throat and thereby suffocate the animal.

Having completed all of this out cat now has to eat as fast as possible before other predators or scavengers arrive. Typically a hyena or larger cat arriving would see the cheetah needing to surrender its kill as being a relatively fragile frame by comparison our cheetah cannot risk an injury that could compromise its hunting ability. A broken bone or even a serious limp could well be a death sentence for our perfectly balanced killing machine.

Cheetah in full sprint
Cheetah in full sprint. Photo by DrZoltan from Pixabay.

Cheetahs have about a 40 to 50 percent success rate when hunting and then to top it all about 10 to 15 percent of their kills are stolen from them by other predators.

A cheetahs diet would consist of springbok, impala, rabbits, bush buck, birds and other small targets of opportunity.

cheetah with kill
Cheetah with young springbok kill. Photo by Roel Roelofs from Pixabay.

Females are able to reproduce after 2 to 3 years and a litter is usually between 3 and 4 cubs after a gestation period of 3 months. It is also possible for the cheetah to have anything up to 8 cubs although their chances of survival would be seriously compromised with a large number.

gorgeous cheetah cubs
Cheetah Cubs. Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

In a Tanzanian study it was found that 77 percent of cubs died within 8 weeks of being born and a further 83 percent did not make it to adolescence.

Cheetahs can expect to live for between 5 and 6 years in the wild.

Defensive posture of cheetah
Cheetah defense. Photo by Danny Nicholson from Pixabay.

Cheetahs can cover up to 23 ft (7 m) in a single stride!

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