Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs

Nature. 2013 Jun 13;498(7453):185-9. doi: 10.1038/nature12295.


Although the cheetah is recognised as the fastest land animal, little is known about other aspects of its notable athleticism, particularly when hunting in the wild. Here we describe and use a new tracking collar of our own design, containing a combination of Global Positioning System (GPS) and inertial measurement units, to capture the locomotor dynamics and outcome of 367 predominantly hunting runs of five wild cheetahs in Botswana. A remarkable top speed of 25.9 m s(-1) (58 m.p.h. or 93 km h(-1)) was recorded, but most cheetah hunts involved only moderate speeds. We recorded some of the highest measured values for lateral and forward acceleration, deceleration and body-mass-specific power for any terrestrial mammal. To our knowledge, this is the first detailed locomotor information on the hunting dynamics of a large cursorial predator in its natural habitat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Acinonyx / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / physiology
  • Botswana
  • Ecosystem
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*