Cheetah Cubs: Learning to Hunt at 10 months
Shot at Ndutu Safari Lodge, Tanzania in February 2016 with the 1Dx and Canon 500mm f/4 II; and, February 2013 with the 1D Mark IV, 1Dx, 500mm f/4 plus 70-200 f/2.8 II/1.4x TC III
It's awesome watching cheetah moms teaching cubs to hunt. At around 10 months, Moms start giving cubs live prey for practice, normally starting with a small and very fast hare. Since the majority of cubs don't make it past a month old, raising cubs to this age is a real accomplishment. And, the moms that are able to raise 3 - 4 cubs to this age are truly Super Moms. They work extremely hard feeding 4 - 5 grown tummies by having to hunt every day; plus, finding the energy and time to continue with cub training. It's twice as difficult when the rains are late because Moms have to travel for miles on end in search of food. It's always hard seeing hungry cheetahs when there's not enough food around for up to 20 miles. Fortunately, the cubs in this gallery had a high chance of survival due to normal rain cycles and awesome guidance from their Super Moms.
The first set of cubs in this gallery, triplets, were a blast to watch because they practiced their hunting skills non-stop - chasing and tackling each other in constant, tireless and coordinated rotation. And when their Mom gave them an unusually large teaching subject at the very last minute, the cubs instantly switched from play mode to serious hunting mode. Two of the cubs nailed the prey like pros and it was amazing to watch.
The second set of cubs, quadruplets, were closer to a year old but weren't as developed. Mom made them practice non-stop when she was around, But, they were apprehensive and/or just not interested; especially, when they were tired and hungry. It's hard to do much training when Mom had to spend most of her time away hunting for food.
All images © Christina J. Prestegard 2004 - 2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.