Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wild cheetah accelerate fast and reach speeds of up to 58 miles per hour during a hunt

Date:
June 14, 2013
Source:
Royal Veterinary College
Summary:
Researchers have captured the first detailed information on the hunting dynamics of the wild cheetah in its natural habitat. Using an innovative GPS and motion sensing collar that they designed, biologists were able to record remarkable speeds of up to 58 miles per hour.

Cheetah running.
Credit: stuporter / Fotolia

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College have captured the first detailed information on the hunting dynamics of the wild cheetah in its natural habitat. Using an innovative GPS and motion sensing collar that they designed, Professor Alan Wilson and his team were able to record remarkable speeds of up to 58 miles per hour (or 93 kilometers per hour).

The results, from the team at the Royal Veterinary College's Structure & Motion Laboratory, are published June 13, 2013 in Nature.

To date, measurements of cheetah locomotion mechanics have only been made on captive animals chasing a lure in a straight line, with few studies eliciting speeds faster than racing greyhounds. For wild cheetahs, estimates of speed have only ever been made from direct observation or film, in open habitat and during daylight hours.

The team, led by Professor Wilson, developed a tracking collar equipped with a GPS module and electronic motion sensors (accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes) capable of delivering processed position and velocity data and sensitive to the animal's movements. The collar was powered by a combination of solar cells, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries.

Collar software monitored the accelerometers to create activity summaries and detect the brief hunting events and adapted collar operation to battery voltages and time of day, meaning that researchers only captured data during a hunt. Overall, researchers recorded data from 367 runs by three female and two male adult cheetahs over 17 months. An episode of feeding after a run indicated hunting success, and was identified in the activity data by consistent, low-magnitude acceleration.

Data revealed that wild cheetah runs started with a period of acceleration, either from stationary or slow movement (presumably stalking) up to high speed. The cheetahs then decelerated and manoeuvred before prey capture. About one-third of runs involved more than one period of sustained acceleration. In successful hunts, there was often a burst of accelerometer data after the speed returned to zero, interpreted as the cheetah subduing the prey -- in this case mainly Impala, which made up 75% of their diet.

The average run distance was 173m. The longest runs recorded by each cheetah ranged from 407 to 559 m and the mean run frequency was 1.3 times per day, so, even if some hunts were missed, high speed locomotion only accounted for a small fraction of the 6,040-m average daily total distance covered by the cheetahs.

The team was also able to identify factors that make up a successful hunt. Successful hunts involved greater deceleration on average, but there was no significant difference in peak acceleration, distance travelled, number of turns, or total turn angle. This indicates that outcome was determined in the final stages of a hunt rather than hunts being abandoned early to save energy or reduce risk of injury, and the higher deceleration values may reflect actual prey capture.

The greatest acceleration and deceleration values were almost double values published for polo horses and exceeded the accelerations reported for greyhounds at the start of a race. The acceleration power for the cheetahs was four times higher than that achieved by Usain Bolt during his world record 100 metres run, about double that for racing greyhounds and more than three times higher than polo horses in competition.

Grip and manoeuvrability, rather than top speed, were shown to be key to hunting success. Hunts involved considerable manoeuvring, with maximum lateral (centripetal) accelerations often exceeding 13ms-2 at speeds less than 17ms-1 (polo horses achieve 6ms-2).

Professor Alan Wilson, said: "Although the cheetah is recognised as the fastest land animal, very little is known about other aspects of its notable athleticism, particularly when hunting in the wild. Our technology allowed us to capture what to our knowledge is the first detailed locomotor information on the hunting dynamics of a large cursorial predator in its natural habitat and as a result we were able to record some of the highest measured values for lateral and forward acceleration, deceleration and body mass.

"In the future, equivalent data for other wild cursorial species would enhance what we know about natural speed, agility and endurance, and provide detailed information on ranging behaviour in the wild. For example, information on habitat selection by endangered species detailing where animals are commuting, hunting and resting would be informative when attempting to evaluate wildlife-protected areas."

The cheetahs used in this study were part of a continuing study by Botswana Predator Conservation Trust in the Okavango Delta region of Northern Botswana.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Veterinary College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. M. Wilson, J. C. Lowe, K. Roskilly, P. E. Hudson, K. A. Golabek, J. W. McNutt. Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs. Nature, 2013; 498 (7453): 185 DOI: 10.1038/nature12295

Cite This Page:

Royal Veterinary College. "Wild cheetah accelerate fast and reach speeds of up to 58 miles per hour during a hunt." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082900.htm>.
Royal Veterinary College. (2013, June 14). Wild cheetah accelerate fast and reach speeds of up to 58 miles per hour during a hunt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082900.htm
Royal Veterinary College. "Wild cheetah accelerate fast and reach speeds of up to 58 miles per hour during a hunt." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082900.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins