Cheetah’s, unlike their feline cousins, lions and leopards, are diurnal, meaning they are mainly active during the day. They prefer to hunt during the mornings and early afternoons while the light is still good. A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away. They reach incredible speeds when hunting and therefore wouldn’t be successful running down prey at night!
When hunting during the day and night are compared, diurnal predators, like the cheetah, rely heavily on camouflage, as it plays a vital role in their hunts being successful. As most people know, speed is how these cats catch their prey or rather a sprint. Cheetahs have a very different approach to stalking than their cousins. Stalking is a fine art and one that they have mastered. They generally stalk until they are within 100m from their prey, and then the chase begins. They use their long, large tail as a rudder to steer at speeds upwards of 100km/hr. They can reach this speed in just a few seconds. Without this trait of blending in, combined with its stalking skills, a cheetah would not survive.
As we had hoped, she started grooming herself, a common sign of cats getting ready to move. She got up, stretched and slowly started moving off. As my guests and I watched her walk away, the feeling of awe and utter euphoria set in, as she effortlessly faded into the long brown grass.