According to research undertaken by Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in collaboration with other institutions worldwide, cheetahs move just like high-velocity racecars. Using a mixture of stealth, speed and flexibility, the big cats run, stop and turn to catch their prey in a controlled manner, just as high-speed vehicles negotiate the corners of a racetrack.
The study, which entailed placing GPS devices and movement sensors on a number of cheetahs before recording their behaviour, discovered that while they could often outrun their prey, that was not how they caught them. Instead the animals were found to use a quick burst of speed before slowing so they could make the rapid turns necessary to close the gap between them and their quarry without overshooting. Lead researcher John Wilson said on the research: “Predator and prey pit a fine balance of speed against manoeuvring capability in a race for survival… Much of a cheetah’s pursuit appears less of a high-speed rush, and more of a carefully played out life-or-death duel between predator and prey.”