Do cheetahs scavenge?

Do cheetahs scavenge? Yes, cheetahs occasionally scavenge although at one time it was believed that the cheetah was one of the few carnivores who did not.

Cheetah takes a hyena kill

Cheetah takes a hyena kill. Photo: Onesmus Irungu

For the sake of clarity cheetahs do sometimes feed from the carcasses of animals that they have not killed themselves.

  • T.M. Caro in his work, ‘A record of cheetah scavenging in the Serengeti‘ published in 1982 records a cheetah mother and her six almost full-grown cubs feeding on a wildebeest carcass for 20 minutes. They were chased off by a spotted hyena.
  • P. Stander in ‘Notes on the foraging habits of cheetah‘ published in 1990 records three cheetahs in Namibia feeding for five hours on a giraffe carcass.

It is suggested that the reason why it is rare to see cheetahs scavenging is because they rarely come across a carcass which has not been picked clean by vultures and hyenas.

Where there is moderate amounts of prey, twenty vultures can be present within 2 minutes of the appearance of a carcass and after 40 minutes there might be over 100 vultures.

On the plains of the Serengeti the carcass of a 550-kilogram buffalo will be picked clean within 48 hours (source: Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists at page 26).

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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