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These two male cheetahs were in their absolute prime and probably full brothers. Nothing is more exciting to watch than cheetah hunting. Within a few paces it will reach a speed of 40 mph and can cover a hundred yards in three seconds. The powerful hind legs reach far forward crossing beyond the forelegs as the animal’s back hunches; then a mighty thrust, the forelegs reaching far forward, the body elongates and changes from convex to concave thanks to specially adapted “hinges” in the vertebral column which allow maximum reach. As the cheetah closes, its prey zigzags frantically in its desperation to escape. The cat follows, using its tail for a counterbalance as it negotiates each change of direction. Finally, the cheetah’s front paws shoots forward in a skillful feat of balance, tripping its prey into a tangle of legs and bodies, wrapped in a cloud of dust. In seconds, it’s all over.
Unlike their ill-mannered cousins, the lions, they will hunt together and amicably share a kill. This stunning Simon Combes’ image captures the regal nature of these Plains princes set in the majesty of their African domain.