Archive - August 2015

Hawkeye August 2015 August 27, 2015

Tanzania has never disappointed me. With its abundant wildlife there is always something exciting to look forward to. My most recent trip was no exception. The opportunity to observe the three big cats, lions, leopard & cheetah living their lives is always a thrill. Cheetahs are incredibly graceful as they move. They are sprinters and can get up to 60 mph for short distances. They are best equipped to run in open plains areas. They must kill and eat their prey quickly because they are no match for a pack of hyenas or a pride of lions, both of which will steal the kill away when given the opportunity.

Lions are communal animals. Typically the females do the hunting and the males protect the territory. Males do hunt and have to if they're traveling only with other males, but it is harder for them to hide from prey because of their size and big manes. Usually 4-12 females will band together with their cubs and raise them together. In this group, four lionesses were lactating and three cubs move together to nurse from three of the four. It is a bit unusual to see lions climb trees so it was a particular treat to see this lioness climb and perch like a leopard.

Leopards protect their kill by carrying up a tree so that other predators are less likely to be able to get to it. Their neck and shoulders are quite strong and they are able to pull game that weighs as much as they do into the tree. Cheetahs and lions hunt a lot in the day time, but leopards usually wait until dark. As they are solitary hunters it makes it somewhat easier for them to avoid some of their predators.