Cheetah | Botswana Wildlife Guide

Cheetah. Michael Poliza

Cheetah [Acinonyx jubatus]

Best places to see Cheetah in Botswana

Throughout the wilderness areas of Botswana - even in the arid reaches of the Kalahari. Most likely sightings are at Chitabe in the Okavango Delta and Linyanti (in particular Kwando).

Observations

Although they are the fastest animal on land cheetahs are the lowest on the predator scale - with their kills even being stolen at times by the smaller jackal and with Botswana having such a high predator population the cheetah are under severe pressure to survive.

Cheetah have one of the highest success rates when it comes to hunting but of all the predators they are the most likely to have the kill stolen away. They have to eat very quickly once they have killed as other predators are quickly on the scene. Vultures have been known to steal kills from cheetah. Cheetah have a variety of calls for different occasions. These calls range from purrs to bird-like chirping and growls.

Cheetah the Predator

Personal observations of cheetah hunts reveal varying methods of operation. A family group of a mother and her five offspring in the Savute Marsh would often use a flanking manoeuvre during a hunt.

Two individuals would flank a herd of Antelope before revealing themselves in a half hearted chase. The prey would scatter in all directions with at least one heading in the direction where the other three were waiting in ambush.

Although cheetah rely on speed during a chase a great deal of patience and stalking goes into a hunt. During a chase prey is knocked to the ground in mid stride after which the cheetah suffocates the prey by clamping its jaws on the victim's air pipe.

Cheetah are susceptible to competition from other predators and are the first to move away from an area when competition gets too much. The previously mentioned group of cheetah in the Savute eventually moved out of the area when hyenas continually stole their kills.

The hyenas developed the habit of following the group on a hunt and when a kill was made would move in immediately and steal the food.

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