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Cheetahs Run at Full Speed to Catch Zebra & Foal

Cheetahs risk injury by hunting a large herd of zebra. They successfully hunt, chase and catch a young vulnerable zebra foal.

Field guide Jann-Rick Louw experienced a sensational moment while out on a game drive in the Pilanesberg National Park. He shared his images and story with

Cheetah chases zebra herd

“We were aware of a cheetah mom with cubs. They had been seen in the same area over the past few days, and this morning was no different. As soon as we drove up to the plains where these cheetahs had been seen. We spotted them, mom and cubs relaxing under the shade of a nearby shepherd tree”

Cheetahs tend to prefer open plains as opposed to more dense thickets. Their strength in hunting is speed. Open plains offer a lot more potential for cheetahs to reach full speed in a chase, increasing their chances of a successful hunt.

“Having observed these cheetahs for a few days, we knew they were in desperate need of a meal. We also knew that there was a herd of zebra making their way in their direction. We held our breath in anticipation.”

Cheetahs Risk Injury by Hunting Zebra
Cheetah at full speed

“After what felt like an eternity, the shades of black and white started moving in the shrubs that surrounded the open plain. It was almost as if these zebras had a bounce in their step as they moved along. Oblivious of the potential danger that lurked not very far away.”

Typically, cheetahs prefer to hunt smaller antelope. Smaller antelope are undeniably a much easier meal for these small felines. Furthermore, because zebras are among the larger prey, cheetahs usually avoid them because the risk of breaking a bone when tackling larger mammals is higher.

“Eventually it began, slowly but steadily, the mother cheetah began positioning herself. The two youngsters on her side took their cue from her and placed themselves perfectly next to her. Had I blinked, I would have missed it!”

The Chase Is On!

“Then there was a burst of speed like I’d never seen before, and all three cheetahs were off. The unsuspecting zebras were caught off guard. The chase resulted in the separation of a young foal from its mother. The cheetahs were hot on his tail. A cloud of dust erupted, and down came the foal. The experienced mother cheetah immediately placed a strong strangle hold on the zebra’s tender neck.”

Cheetahs have a 58% success rate in hunts, and luckily for this hungry mom and cubs, this was one of the successful ones. Success means that the cubs will be fed and hopefully grow up and aid in increasing the ever-dwindling wild cheetah population in Africa.

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Cheetahs Risk Injury by Hunting Zebra
Cheetahs catch young zebra foal

“Once the zebra stopped moving, the struggle was over. The cheetahs began opening the carcass and feasting on the soft flesh and internal organs. A well-deserved meal and a sighting that will stick with me for a very long time.”

Written by admin

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