Cheetahs take down wildebeest in spectacular kill… but they miss out on the carcass because of a pack of crafty hyenas
This is the moment a pair of vicious cheetahs tracked down and killed a wildebeest in Tanzania before being cheated out of their kill.
The tenacious pair are muscled off of their quarry by a pack of hyenas who move in at the last moment.
The three scavengers, known for their laugh-like call, then feast on the dead animal with their two cubs.
This stunning series of photographs shows the moment two cheetahs used teamwork to hunt down and kill a wildebeest in Tanzania
However the cats were deprived of their meal by some hungry hyenas who moved in to claim the prize which they feasted on with their young
The stunning sequence of pictures was captured in Tanzania by wildlife photographer Pia Dierickx and shows two of the world’s fastest cats at their most fierce.
Using their claws to grip into the wildebeest’s flesh and their powerful jaws to lock around its neck, it doesn’t take long for the predators to subdue the powerful animal.
The wild cats are extremely maneuverable, even at high speeds, far surpassing both greyhounds and horses, the two nearest competitors.
The hunt is on: The pictures start as one of the cheetahs breaks from cover to chase down the wildebeest using its natural acceleration which is faster than a sports car
As it is abandoned by the rest of its herd the first cat locks its jaws around the neck of the animal, and the second cheetah pounces
Both of the predators use their powerful limbs to lock into the wildebeest’s flesh and bring the large to a halt within moments
While it was formerly believed cheetahs could run at up to 100mph, scientists now believe that cheetahs run at around 60mph and rarely stray above 30-40mph while hunting.
What makes them so deadly is their powerful muscle structure which allows them to slow by up to 9mph in a single stride.
They also possess the ability to turn in a very small amount of space, aided by a highly flexible spine and claws which don’t retract and give them a huge amount of grip.
As its eye bulge with fear the wildebeest knows it has no way to escape the two cats as they claw at its back and sides
The cheetahs muscular limbs, long tail and flexible spine allow it to quickly twist and turn as the prey struggles to escape from its claws
As the tussle continues one of the cats manages to swap its position and dig its teeth into the prey’s windpipe, slowly choking it
The predator displays the sheer power of its jaws as it hangs from the wildebeest’s throat by just its teeth
While all of that makes them incredibly lethal once the rush to kill has started, where the cheetah also excels is in sneaking up towards its kill before pouncing.
The animal expends a huge amount of energy in running and wrestling with its prey, so it must make sure it has a reasonable chance of a kill before running in, otherwise it would starve to death.
Cheetahs use their excellent eyesight to scan the horizon for potential targets, before lying low in the long grass and creeping towards the prey.
The wildebeest alone weighs more than the two cats combined so the predators must still be careful as one sharp movement could easily break a bone
As the bloodied beast begins to give up two hyena youngsters appear in the background of the picture before the arrival of their parents
After the hyenas vanish the cheetahs get on with bringing their kill to the floor where they can easily finish it off
The cat makes use of its camouflaged fur to get as close to the other animal as it possibly can before it starts to run, accelerating faster than a sports car.
Like most cats cheetahs are usually solitary animals but can team up in pair or even threes to hunt, usually sharing the work between family members.
Once they have dispatched a kill they will often drag it to a shady spot to prevent other animals from stealing it. The cats have extremely light bodies and are no match for heavier animals.
The athletic killers rely upon the element of surprise to take down their prey, but are vulnerable to attack from bigger savannah animals, especially hyenas who are known to kill cheetah young.
The large wildebeest is an essential part of the African food chain, providing food for lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas
In a fair fight the cheetahs would have no chance against a wildebeest which could use it size and horns to injure them, and instead rely on surprise
The hyenas pups return as one cheetahs pulls the head of the wildebeest down so the other can finish the kill off
But in the last picture, after all their efforts have been exhausted and the struggling wildebeest has been killed, three larger hyenas move in to steal the carcass