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Cheetahs take down wildebeest then miss out carcass because of crafty hyenas

This is the moment a pair of vicious cheetahs tracked down and killed a wildebeest in Tanzania before being cheated out of their kill. The tenacious pair is muscled off of their quarry by a pack of hyenas who move in at the last moment.

The three scavengers, known for their laugh-like call, then feast on the dead animal with their two cubs. The stunning sequence of pictures was captured in Tanzania by wildlife photographer Pia Dierickx and shows two of the world’s fastest cats at their most fierce.

Using their claws to grip into the wildebeest’s flesh and their powerful jaws to lock around its neck, it doesn’t take long for the predators to subdue the powerful animal. The wild cats are extremely maneuverable, even at high speeds, far surpassing both greyhounds and horses, the two nearest competitors.

While it was formerly believed cheetahs could run at up to 100mph, scientists now believe that cheetahs run at around 60mph and rarely stray above 30-40mph while hunting. What makes them so deadly is their powerful muscle structure which allows them to slow by up to 9mph in a single stride.

They also possess the ability to turn in a very small amount of space, aided by a highly flexible spine and claws that don’t retract and give them a huge amount of grip. While all of that makes them incredibly lethal once the rush to kill has started, where the cheetah also excels is in sneaking up towards its kill before pouncing.

The animal expends a huge amount of energy in running and wrestling with its prey, so it must make sure it has a reasonable chance of a kill before running in, otherwise, it would starve to death. Cheetahs use their excellent eyesight to scan the horizon for potential targets, before lying low in the long grass and creeping towards the prey.

The cat makes use of its camouflaged fur to get as close to the other animal as it possibly can before it starts to run, accelerating faster than a sports car. Like most cats, cheetahs are usually solitary animals but can team up in pairs or even threes to hunt, usually sharing the work between family members.

Once they have dispatched a kill they will often drag it to a shady spot to prevent other animals from stealing it. The cats have extremely light bodies and are no match for heavier animals. The athletic killers rely upon the element of surprise to take down their prey but are vulnerable to attack from bigger savannah animals, especially hyenas who are known to kill cheetah young.

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