Are cheetahs good hunters? Although cheetahs are generally more successful in hunting than other large wild cats, their success rate depends on their age, sex and the type of prey hunted.
In The Serengeti Lion (1972), G.B. Schaller reports that adult cheetahs are successful in hunting small gazelle fawns 100 percent of the time. However their success rate in hunting older gazelles is 53.5 percent.
R. McLaughlin in his masters thesis Aspects of the biology of cheetahs in Nairobi National Park published in 1970 states that 37 percent of all chases are successful and that the success rate improves to 76 percent in chases of juvenile prey animals.
Thirdly, T.M. Caro in Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains (1994) reports that female cheetahs of various ages have a high hunting success rates of 81 to 100 percent when chasing young Thomson’s gazelles.
He also states that when sibling cheetahs hunt in a team their hunting success rate of adult and younger Thomson’s gazelles climbs to 52 percent compared to 15 percent when hunting alone.
He also found that adult male cheetahs hunting Thomson’s gazelles alone or in pairs have a success rate of about 25 percent while working in trios (three cheetahs working together) results in a 50 percent success rate.
A major factor in the cheetah’s relative success is its ability to accelerate, stop, restart and turn very quickly combined with its high top speed of around 64 mph.
I am grateful to Mel and Fiona Sunquist’s book Wild Cats of the World.
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