Get ready to be amazed by these incredible photos from photographer Sebastian Lehrke, taken at the Naboisho conservancy in Kenya. In a shocking turn of events, a bold zebra takes on a fierce cheetah and chases it away into a bush! Talk about earning your stripes.
The action begins when a protective mother cheetah defends her three cubs against a group of zebras who wander too close. At first, the striped ungulates scatter and make a hasty retreat as the cheetah charges after them. But things take a wild turn when one zebra suddenly decides to fight back and shift into attack mode. You won’t believe your eyes as this fierce encounter plays out in the African savannah.
All photos credit to photographer Sebastian Lehrke
As unexpected as this turn of events was, the striped mammal had made an abrupt turnaround and started sprinting towards the oncoming large cat. Apparently, the cheetah was startled by this sudden act of boldness from the other mammal, and skidded to a quick halt before haring off in the opposite direction, as the larger ungulate charged after her.
In this unbelievable scene, the zebra chased the spotted cat across the plains and drove her away into the bushes, under the surprised gaze of her three cubs. The cheetah took refuge into the bushes and remained out of sight from the charging zebra, until the striped quadruped eventually strode away looking all triumphant.
Following this extraordinary chase, the cheetah cubs were seen appearing bewildered as one of them was calling out to their mom, who had remained concealed.
Interesting facts about Zebras
Zebras are widespread across major parts of southern and eastern Africa, and they prefer to live in treeless grasslands and savannah woodlands. Part of the Equidae family, zebras are closely related to horses, however they are different species. Their temperaments also differ consequently from that of horses, and as such, they are much more aggressive and dangerous. This contrast in behavior explains why horses and donkeys have been successfully domesticated, while the zebra remains for the most part wild. They also possess a “ducking” reflex which helps them to avoid being captured by lasso.
Zebras have acquired a tougher exterior and more aggressive demeanor than their domesticated relatives since they have evolved in the challenging habitat of the African plains. In order to survive in this ruthless environment dominated by large predators like lions, cheetahs and hyenas, zebras have developed a particular alertness and responsiveness that allow them to flee when encountering a threat. As such, they also possess an impressive counterattack if captured.
Indeed, zebras will protect themselves and their young when attacked. They are known to be the only herbivores to use their teeth as weapons, and also a kick from their powerful hindquarters may have the capacity to shatter a lion’s jaw. There has even been reports of zebras killing lions, and these striped mammals have also been known to kick each other to death. They will also savagely bite any human that approaches them too closely, which is why they are regarded as not really being “people friendly”.
Zebras can run fast, since their predators are speedy runners too, but they are far from the fastest animals in the savannah. Although they run similarly to horses, pushing themselves forward from their hind legs, they are however slower than their counterparts. The zebra’s speed varies in relation to their subspecies. The Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) and the Plains zebra (Equus quagga) are believed to share the same top speed of 40 – 43.5 mph (64 – 70 km/h), while the Mountain zebra (Equus zebra) can reach a top speed estimated at 35 – 40 mph (56 – 64 km/h).
The greatest predators of zebras are lions, who can sprint at 81 km/h! Despite being outrun by most of their predators, zebras have phenomenal stamina. For instance, they can run at full speed for a little over a mile, and also they can maintain a speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) for up to 12 miles (19 km). Zebras employ an interesting tactic to avoid faster predators – they run in a zigzag manner to try to shake off any animal pursuing them. Since they are dynamic, they keep on zigzagging until their predator gets depleted of its energy.
Interesting facts about Cheetahs
The Cheetah is known to be the fastest land animal in the world, and inhabits the open and dry grasslands in the sub-Saharan Africa, and eastern and southern African natural reserves or parks. They can also be found in small numbers in southern Algeria, northern Niger and Iran. Cheetahs are members of the family Felidae, which encompasses the lion, jaguar, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, and other big cats.
These carnivorous felines are diurnal, meaning that they hunt during the day, mostly either the late morning or early evening, and they hide among the tall grasses while on the hunt. They have adopted this hunting habit in order to avoid competition from other strong predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards.
Their common prey include impalas, gray duikers, kudus, gazelles, guineafowl, springboks, ostriches, jackals, hares, smaller antelopes, and even birds. If hunting alongside other cheetahs in a pack, then they sometimes go after larger ungulates like zebras and wildebeests, but as a lone hunter, a cheetah will rarely pursue a zebra due to the significant difference in size between the animals.
Taking a look at a cheetah’s physique – a slender body, long legs, elongated spine, adapted claws and a long tail – we can see how the feline had evolved for speed. Indeed, a cheetah can go from 0 to 60 Mph (97 km/h) in just 3 seconds – that’s even faster than most sports car can accelerate! But sprinting at such super speed consumes a lot of energy, thus cheetahs can only maintain a chase for less than a minute and covers only between 200 and 300 m, resulting in only half of these pursuits as fruitful. If a chase isn’t successful after 1 minute, the cheetah usually stops to rest. Its body goes through an incredible amount of stress after such a sprint, which often causes the feline to have to rest for up to half an hour before it can sprint again.
At full speed, a cheetah can cover as long as 7 m (23 ft) in one stride, while taking three strides a second, which means the mammal spends more than half the time airborne. This doesn’t come as a surprise that they get tired quickly and thus need to conserve energy for much of the time. As per a study, it was found these felines spent only 12% of their day to roam around their habitat.
Another feature of their body that helps them to run so fast is their non-retractable claws, that provide extra grip to prevent skidding when they are maneuvering corners, or to take down an animal. As well, their long, muscular tail functions as a rudder that help them to make abrupt turns, while pursuing prey like antelope and hares at high speed.
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