Cheetah Kills Male Impala Right Next to the Road


Oct 20 2015

'My brother and I took a minute to plot our Kruger Park route, and thank goodness we chose to go via the H7, or we wouldn't have seen it,' says Andre Carse. 'We headed from Skukuza to Satara and had the whole day to do so. We didn't plan specifically, just generally, that we wanted to take the dirt roads up the Kruger, as we hadn't been on some of them before. And we wanted to avoid the traffic of the main north-south tar road.'

This is not Andre's first riveting sighting, he has witnessed good hunts and chases before. In fact just the day before this specific sighting, his party saw a leopard chase impalas across the road. However to date, never a kill!

He continues, 'We still had 3 hours of the day remaining, so we were deciding what to do next, when, looking out of the left window, I 'thought' I noticed something in the grass. We slowly drove on, and although I was fixated, I thought it was just another log. But something told me to tell my dad to stop the car!'

'As he slowed down I saw a twitch! At which point I realised it was something good. Was it a cat? I just couldn't quite tell which one, as it was far away. I took out binoculars, and, looking over a small herd of impala, I managed to identify it'. This was at the same time that his brother yelled out, “it's a cheetah”.

'And then it dawned, it was a cheetah stalking its prey. We continued watching it stalk for plus minus 3 minutes. And then incredibly, it actually started to chase…' Probably one of the fastest land mammals it can gather a speed of approximately 90-100 kilometres per hour.

As the impala raced across the road, it slipped! And so it was an easy catch! Although back on its feet the cheetah could no longer use speed to trip its prey, followed by its strangle hold. According to Trevor Carnaby, in his book 'Beat about the Bush”, cheetahs can be cruel. At a certain stage they will teach their cubs to hunt by stunning their prey, thereby allowing the cubs to investigate a live meal.

'And so we watched the battle ensue,' says Andre, “As you can see in the video (although an edited version) the activity, from the moment it was captured to the moment it died, took just over 10 minutes.”

'Once the cheetah let go of its strangle hold and it was clear the impala was dead, I felt a weight off. The reality dawned on me, I had just witnessed a cheetah kill - which is not something many people can ever acknowledge, even people who visit the park often.'

'We waited as the cheetah cooled down, before eating (The cheetah cannot eat its prey straight away, due to the fact that they are immensely hot after the severe chase). By this time, on a road between the second busiest camp, and the nearest exit gate with a dead impala and a cheetah lying next to it just 1.5 meters off the road, the traffic ten-folded. But we stayed, and managed to watch it eat for about 10 minutes before deciding to move on, and thus allowing others to appreciate a prime spot in the circle of life.'

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