Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cheetah (Africa Series)

Finding something to eat in Kenya's Maasai Mara takes endurance and good eyesight. It could take a while to find something to eat for Mother Cheetah and her son.

Catching up with his mother, Young Cheetah is just learning how to find food on the hoof. 

Mother Cheetah has her eyes fixed on a zebra and her calf.  The hunt is about to begin.

Up to now, Mother Cheetah has brought home the meals. Now it’s time for Young Chettah to learn where his food comes from.

Although, the lesson for today was 
Watch and Learn, bounding alongside mom was a lot more fun.

(Click on any picture to enlarge.)

An adult zebra is too large for her to bring down alone and her cub is no help yet, however the baby zebra is just the right size. 

Mother zebra gets wind of this plan fairly quickly though, and pushes her baby ahead to safety.  A few high kicks in the cheetah’s direction broke off the chase quickly.

The lesson was over for today.

Young Cheetah returns unsure of what just happened.

This looked to be a half-hearted attempt at hunting.  The mother cheetah never got up to full speed and the hunt was over in less than a minute. 

It looked to me, the causal observer, to be a lesson for her son about where zebra meat comes from.  

Although a different cheetah was active this night, cheetahs rarely use darkness to hunt.  

Instead they hunt in the daytime, relying on their spots for stealth and their explosive bursts of speed to run down their prey. 

The cheetah is the fastest land animal…70-75 miles per speed, 0-62mph in 3 seconds.    

Females are promiscuous and loners. They tend to avoid other females to raise 3-5 cubs alone, often from several males. 

Being the smallest of the Big Cats, her success rate in raising cubs is fairly low.  Lions and hyenas will kill cubs they find when their territories overlap. Some surveys estimate a 90% failure rate raising cubs to adulthood. Mother Cheetah's lone cub still possesses the fluffy back-of-the-neck mantel of a cub.

A gazelle or impala is a more typical cheetah prey animal and one could still be on mom's menu for today. 
With a burst of speed and a quick leg-trip she could dispatch it with a bite to the throat.

With luck, Young Cheetah will be watching how it is done.