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January 7, 2002

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This morning we witnessed a cheetah stalk, chase, and kill a Thompson gazelle. These cats are built for speed, able to run up to 120 km per hour. The cheetah's acceleration amazed us. Even though it happens everyday, it's rare for people to see the spectacle of an African cat killing prey (our guide has only seen it three times in twenty years). Cheetahs hunt during the day, so people have the best chance of seeing them kill. It happens fast. Stalk, dash, bam! A sad episode for the gazelle, but that's the drawback of being lower on the food chain.
The cheetah began its stalking with our help. The gazelle watched us and didn't see the cheetah until it was too late. So much for the Prime Directive - Don't interfere with nature!
The gazelle demonstrated great agility, twisting and turning at speed as it sought to escape. The cheetah closed the gap, tripped up the gazelle with its front paw, then delivered a killing bite to the neck.
After killing the gazelle, the cheetah called for it's cub to come for lunch. The cheetah's call is a birdlike chirp, not the sound you'd expect from a cat.