Cheetah Cubs Hone their Hunting SkillsOn a visit to South Africa's Kruger National Park, we came across a cheetah mother with five cubs. The cubs were already "teenagers", too young to help in catching prey, but old enough to show how well they were learning classic cheetah hunting techniques.
The five cubs all joined in at various times as they practiced on each other, play fighting and taking part in frenetic chases.
Adult cheetah typically stalk their prey until they're within attack range, then sprint in for the kill. While they can reach a top speed of 70 km per hour, they can only maintain this for a short distance.
Once they haul in their quarry, they will trip the animal with a swipe of the front paw, before pouncing on it and grabbing it around the throat
to smother it.
Two of the cheetah cubs play fighting as Mom rests in the background (above and below)
While this behavior may look like youthful exuberance, it's all part of learning to survive in the wild
A third cub arrives to join the action while Mom ignores them, letting them do their own thing
Classic cheetah behavior - practicing using a front paw to trip and bring prey down
Training for the short, high-speed sprint, the typical method cheetah use to catch their prey
Cheetah can only maintain their incredible speed for a short distance, so have mere seconds to catch the victim
Gotcha! Adult cheetah usually trip the victim before pouncing on it and grabbing it round the throat
More sprint training, this time two cubs join forces against a third
Getting ready for the short, intense sprint after prey identified
Change of direction at full speed to keep prey in striking range. Tail is used to help keep balance
Practicing the pounce
Camera: Canon EOS 50D with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM telephoto lens.
© Scotch Macaskill, www.wildlife-pictures-online.com
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