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Do hyenas eat cheetahs?

Cheetah cubs in den. Super cute. Photo: public domain.

By the time cheetahs are four-months-of-age they are able to outrun spotted hyenas and lions but until that age newly mobile cubs are very vulnerable to predators including spotted hyenas. And therefore the answer to the question in the title is, yes, with respect to young cheetahs. M.K. Laurenson in his study published in 1994, High Juvenile Mortality in Cheatahs and Its Consequences for Maternal Care reported that spotted hyenas were seen killing four cubs from one newly mobile litter and a single cub from another litter. Despite this, lions are the major predator of young cheetahs. They are responsible for more than 80% of the predator-caused cheetah deaths in the den (the mother’s den where they are raised initially).

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It is shocking to know that the mortality rate of cheetahs during the first eight weeks of life is 72.3%. As an aside, it was once thought that cheetahs lost half of their captured prey to other predators such as hyenas. However, is now believed that the proportion is much lower than once believed. In the Serengeti cheetahs lost between 10 and 30% of their kills to other predators. In Kruger National Park cheetahs lose an estimated 40% of their kills to spotted hyenas. One factor in keeping the loss of prey to other predators down is the fact that cheetahs eat fast and large quantities of flesh quickly (2 cheetahs can eat 19 kgs of flesh in 2-3 hoursA).

A – J.A. Philips 1993 Bone consumption by cheetahs at undisturbed kills: Evidence for a lack of focal-palatine erosion.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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