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.
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).