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Cheetah Cubs Hone their Hunting Skills

On 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.

Cheetah cubs play fighting Two of the cheetah cubs play fighting as Mom rests in the background (above and below)

Young cheetas learn attack skills

Pair of cheetah cubs try out attack skills While this behavior may look like youthful exuberance, it's all part of learning to survive in the wild

Trio of cheetah cubs ready to play fight A third cub arrives to join the action while Mom ignores them, letting them do their own thing

Cheetah cubs learning hunting techniques Classic cheetah behavior - practicing using a front paw to trip and bring prey down

Cheetah cubs practicing chasing down prey Training for the short, high-speed sprint, the typical method cheetah use to catch their prey

Cheetah cubs running at speed Cheetah can only maintain their incredible speed for a short distance, so have mere seconds to catch the victim

Cheeta cubs chasing each other Gotcha! Adult cheetah usually trip the victim before pouncing on it and grabbing it round the throat

Young  cheetah honing hunting techniques More sprint training, this time two cubs join forces against a third

Cheetah cub practising quick, short sprint Getting ready for the short, intense sprint after prey identified

Cheetah cub practising the chase Change of direction at full speed to keep prey in striking range. Tail is used to help keep balance

Cheetah cub practicing the pounce Practicing the pounce

Camera: Canon EOS 50D with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM telephoto lens.

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For more about cheetah, please see Cheetah Information or Cheetah Pictures.

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