The science of escaping from a vicious predator

A years-long study has revealed how predators hunt in the African wild, and what tactics their prey use to outmaneuver them.

BOTSWANA (Next Media) – BBC reports that researchers in Botswana fitted cheetahs, impalas, lions and zebras with custom radio collars to record each animal’s location, speed, acceleration and deceleration, and how quickly they can turn.

Muscle biopsies taken from each animal revealed that predators were 37% faster, and had muscles 20% more powerful that their prey, but were also less able to maneuver at lower speeds.

Computer models suggest that running at full speed is not in the prey’s best interest, since the predator can accelerate more quickly and take them down.

Instead, prey should run at moderate speeds and turn sharply at the last minute in order to avoid capture.

Lions and cheetahs were found to be successful in about a third of their hunts, generally when they are travelling just slightly faster than their prey.

This is because the cats and their victims are co-evolving, in order to maintain balance between each group’s numbers in the wild.