On Shamwari Game Reserve there is a coalition of two male cheetahs. They have been together for a long time and thus have perfected their hunting strategies. They will go hunting together and will use different strategies for different prey and landscapes. Their normal prey comprise of springbuck, impala, blesbuck and other small antelope. But sometimes they will go for something a bit more challenging, like an ostrich.

On the 2nd of August some of our guests were lucky enough to see exactly this right before their own eyes. The two cheetahs went on an amazing sprint after some ostrich and after a while focused on a male in the flock. They were hot on his heels for a good amount of time before they disappeared behind a ridge. When the game drive vehicle finally relocated the cheetahs, they had already killed the huge long-necked bird.

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The cheetahs were totally out of breath and sat next to their prize for a while before starting their well deserved meal. Cheetahs feed every 3 to 4 days, depending on what their last meal was, but to actually see this vital part of life happening right before you, requires that you be in the right place at the right time. Luckily some of our guests got to experience this special moment, including 14 year old Erwan Hochart who was on safari at Shamwari Game Reserve with his family at the time. He managed to film this video of the hunt from Ranger Ntobeko’s game drive vehicle.

How have predators evolved to hunt

Whenever we drive in the bush we hope to see any animal but particularly look forward to seeing the big predators like the lions, brown hyenas, cheetah and leopards. If you are lucky enough to spot one of these magnificent beasts, they are usually doing the same thing they do for most of the day, sleep! Predators are animals that hunt for their food and feed on meat. This means it’s important that they conserve their energy for when they need to go hunt again, as it’s essential for their survival. Different predators are adapted in different ways to hunt their prey. This could be in their jaw strength, paw structure, speed, body strength, time of day that they hunt or even in their hunting tactics.

A leopard has evolved to have a huge amount of body strength and like all cats has sharp claws that can be retracted if not needed (cheetahs are the only cats that have non-retractable claws). This beautiful hunter also has very long sharp teeth and the jaw strength that can crush a monkey’s skull in one bite. Leopards are adapted to hunt at night. Their eyes are adapted to see well in the dark and they stalk their prey until they are only a few meters away before pouncing and going in for the kill.

Cheetahs on the other hand are adapted for speed. With their slender aerodynamic bodies, long legs and flat tail (not rounded like other cats) used for balance while running, cheetahs are the ultimate sprinters of mother nature. Their claws can’t retract because they need this for traction when running at full tilt. They also have a specialised pad on their front paws to help them stop after catching their prey.

 

By Ranger Jone’
Video by Erwan Hochart