It is interesting to look at the hunting success of the wild cats. Wild cats are top predators and we associate them with great hunting skills. They are very adept at hunting, catching and killing prey. So how successful are they?
The spreadsheet table below provides the answer in respect of a good cross-section of wild cats.
Please note, though, that different scientists employ different ways to measure the success rate. At what point does a hunt become a concerted chase to attack and so on? Therefore direct comparisons between studies are difficult to make.
Hunting success will depend on the type of prey, of course. Also, a female supporting kittens is likely to be more successful as she is motivated to produce results to feed her young. A female serval improved from 48% to 62% when she had offspring to support.
As for the lynx it is unsurprising to learn that the condition of the snow has an impact on success rates. Soft snow either hinders the hunter or the hunted depending on the sort of prey. Also the condition of the prey must have an impact on the success of a chase. When chasing prey in poor condition over a considerable distance (up to 100 meters) success rates improved.
The high success rate of the puma in the chart above was dictated somewhat by the fact the area where the study took place (Idaho Primitive Area) provided cover for the puma before attacking.
Cover for the lion was a major factor in success rates. Low success rates are achieved when there is little cover (12% compared with 41%).
Poor weather conditions improve success rates as do darkness. The best would be a moonless night under difficult climatic conditions. Prey tends to stay put when conditions are difficult making them more vulnerable. Windy conditions encourage a lion to hunt. Wind direction is not a factor in hunting success rates.
Source: The Natural History of the Wild Cats by Andrew Kitchener ISBN 0-8014-8498-7