For a cheetah, it makes no sense to run, you have to brake in time

Cheetah is considered the fastest land animal in the world. According to observations made on animals in captivity using bait (see video below), this feline could run at a speed of more than 100 km/h.

Video of a cheetah trying to grab a bait, in normal speed and then in slow motion, at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Center, South Africa.

Even without coercion, the cheetah has enough resources under the pads to leave behind the fastest greyhound (65 km/h) or racehorses (68 km/h). And let’s not talk about people, because compared to a spotted cat, Usain Bolt’s “lightning bolt” hurts. 43.2 km/h at a distance of 100 m…

However, a group of researchers from the Royal Veterinary College in London observed these impressive performances with caution “Few precise measurements (of the animal’s speed, ed.) have been made,” they explain in the preamble to their publication in the journal Nature.

“In addition, most measurements show a running speed lower than that of a greyhound (65 km/h),” the researchers note.

Therefore, the team decided to measure movement of cats in nature, in real conditions. To do this, they installed a high-tech collar on five Botswana cheetahs (three females and two males), combining high-precision GPS with a set of accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers.

A team from the Royal Veterinary College London fitted the cheetah with a GPS collar, checked health and anatomical measurements

In this way, the team was able to pinpoint the location of each animal, map its running trajectory, and accurately measure its acceleration, deceleration, and sudden change of direction.

Thus, researchers have recorded the movements of felines in the bush for 17 months, analyzing a total of 367 runs.

A cheetah with a GPS collar chases an impala in Botswana. Credit to K Golabek

Their findings? Cheetah is still bloody fast! Most of his sprints are done at speed averaging 50 km/h, usually only holding for a second or two. However, when the impala is particularly appetizing, the feline can reach speed 93 km/h (this is a record recorded during the experiment).

However, the cat impressed the researchers not so much with its maximum speed, but with its incredible ability accelerate, brake and change direction sharply.

By standards from the Royal Veterinary College, A cheetah can accelerate in one step at a speed of 3 meters per second or decelerate at a speed of 4 m/s. The impressive maneuverability is due to the cheetah’s skeletal and muscular structure, not to mention its non-retractable claws, which provide it with considerable traction.

The thumbnail above shows the trajectory followed by the feline. The first strip corresponds to the animal’s linear speed, and the second to its acceleration or deceleration. Credit Royal Veterinary College London

This is good, but not enough

It is this ability to change speed and direction almost instantaneously that allows the animal to follow all the movements of its prey in order to better capture it, according to the study.

Another world record: the muscle power developed by a cheetah at full speed is four times greater than that calculated by Usain Bolt when he ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds.

Despite all these opportunities for hunting with hounds, cheetahs were far from successful in systematically capturing their prey (mainly impala, except for one male who preferred warthogs). Researchers believe that their hunt was successful only 26% of the time.

AFP’s Erwan Leconte, 6/18/13

READ ALSO. Cheetah’s last run


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