Kruger tourists brought to standstill as cheetah hunts impala in their midst

2017-01-16 06:43
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Cape Town - The latest footage released by Latest Sightings.com shows baby impala’s heart just about beating out of its chest whilst trying to hide in front of a tourist's car away from a hungry cheetah and her cub. 

“We visit the Kruger only once a year and have had very few cheetah sightings in the past, especially ones including a hunt so this was an incredibly rare moment for us,” Albert Le Roux explains to LatestSightings.com

Albert continues, “we were driving on the S28, near Lower Sabie, when we saw a couple of vehicles stationary along the roadside, and stopped to join them. By the time we arrived, the baby impala was already separated from its mom. The impala was hiding in a small bush close to the road whilst the mother cheetah was observing how her cub could hunt. 

It was a training session, and she only helped when needed. She lured the impala away from the bush allowing the cub to then snare it. 

The cub played with the impala for about 10min before we started recording. By this time the impala had tried to hide in front of one of the vehicles. We somehow knew what was about to happen next but were very excited to see it play out. The cheetahs began the game of hide and seek. On closer inspection you could see the impala’s eye was bleeding, probably from all the scratching and biting from the cub.

Unfortunately for the poor buck luck was not on its side and the cheetah upon noticing the hiding spot quickly ended its life.

It was truly extraordinary to have witnessed.

WATCH the clip below...  

Cheetahs are an enigma

When you consider that there are fewer than 10 000 cheetahs in the wild - the vivid footage becomes even more remarkable.

Cheetah's are listed by CITES as endangered under Appendix 1. In South Africa the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) estimates there to be about 700 free-roaming 600 in breeding or petting facilities. 

In evolutionary terms, cheetahs are an enigma. In the business of survival of the fittest, their line should have disappeared into species oblivion ages ago. They are non-aggressive and will retreat rather than defend their catch. They have small jaws and a weak bite. Out on the savanna their cubs are heavily predated.

While sprinting, they overheat in mere seconds and take more than half an hour to recover from a burst of speed. In a chase, their breathing rate shoots from 16 breaths a minute to nearly 160. Unlike other cats, their claws are blunt and no good for climbing trees to escape danger. They’ve sacrificed muscle mass for leanness like any good sprinter. 

SEE - #ShockWildlifeTruths: Spare a thought for the world’s fastest cats

But the most astounding feature of all is their skeleton. If it wasn’t on four-legs you’d think you were looking at the bones of a bird. They’re long, frighteningly thin and clearly fragile. 

Yet genetically cheetahs are the oldest of the cat family – perfect in their savanna niche and unchanged for around three million years. They’ve out-lived ice ages and sabre-tooth cats. Their narrow waist, long legs, deep chest, large nostrils, enlarged heart and lung, special pads for traction and long tail for balance are all designed around the one thing that has given them an evolutionary advantage: speed. 

However not much of that was required in this particular hunt.

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