The Living Edens-Etosha: Feed Me
The Hunt is On

Not all predators hunt in the same way. In particular, two Etoshan predators -- the cheetah and the jackal -- provide an interesting comparision in attacking tactics.

A cheetah is physically designed for speed, and that speed is meant to be put to use in hot pursuit of prey. Just how is an animal smaller than a human able to reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour with sports car quickness? When a cheetah takes its first strides, it leaves the ground twice -- once with its legs completely extended, then with its legs tightly folded beneath its body. It can do this because of the amazing flexibility of its backbone, which indirectly permits much wider movement of the cheetah's legs than the physiques of other great cats allow. These jumps let the cheetah cover long stretches of ground in no time at all. In addition, the cheetah has Cheetah

another physical attribute that helps it chase prey: its tail. Acting like a rudder, a cheetah's tail aids the animal when it needs to switch direction abruptly at high speed. The explosive power possessed by the cheetah does not last long, however. If it is unable to make a kill quickly, it soon tires, and gives up the chase. Jackals
Jackals usually hunt alone, though they will sometimes congregate in groups to bring down big game. When they do this, the jackals approach the animal herd -- say, of springbok -- slowly. As they near the herd, the jackals suddenly break into a run, each animal in pursuit of its own prey. If one of the jackals closes in on a springbok, the other jackals abandon their animals and focus instead on the single prey. The pursuing jackal gets a hold on the springbok, slowing it until the other jackals can arrive and finish the job.
go back to Feed Me
click here to return to the Etosha home page
In The Wild | Feed Me | Behind The Scenes | Trivia Quiz
Classroom Resources | Sand to Sea | Screen Saver | Related Links | Credits

click here to go to the PBS home page