Cheetahs are incredible athletes. They achieve by far the fastest land speed of any living animal—between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft),. They have the ability to accelerate to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds. That gives our Olympians something to aspire too.
On our recent trip to the Kalahari we were lucky enough to see a cheetah chase a kill a wildebeest and see her sprint in full glory. We’d spotted her at first light walking along a riverbank – she was clearly on the prowl. We stayed with her for an hour or so and then decided to take a gamble and leave her, driving off in the direction she was heading to see if there were any large herds of prey which she might decide to hunt.
We stumbled a cross a herd of wildebeest and stopped there to wait and see if she’d appear. 45 minutes later her silhouette appeared on the river bank – she paused briefly before sprinting down the riverbank, reaching full speed as she arrived at the herd – sending them into blind panic. She locked onto one wildebeest and begun the chase. The cheetah’s speed was no match for the beest and she quickly caught and strangled it – not before she’d chased it right into the direction of our car, narrowly missing us. It was an unbelievable opportunity to see the sprint – to literally feel her speed as she sped by the car, her tail hitting the car door. They really are incredible athletes and very, very beautiful animals.
Further images of cheetahs are available in our Taraji Blue Kalahari Photo Collection.