Terrified Baby Impala Becomes Young Cheetahs’ First Hunting Lesson

Professional guide and lodge owner Mikey Carr-Hartly was on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara, when he witnessed a remarkable encounter between a cheetah family and a young impala.

“We were in an area of the southern Mara called Majani ya Chai, not far from Sala’s Camp,” said Mikey. “It’s the ideal habitat for cheetah because of the croton thickets on the edges of the plains, which provide great cover for hunting animals.”

After scanning the area, Mikey finally spotted a female and two older cubs lying beside a bed of flowers in the shade of a croton thicket.

“It was hot, and we were not sure if the mother would bother hunting, but we decided to stick around to see if she would get up and move around.”

About half an hour later, the mother sprang up and bolted across the plain like a bullet into the thicket. She had spotted a baby impala and was on its trail.

Cheetah grapples with a baby impala. Photo by Mikey Carr-Hartley

“To our amazement, instead of immediately killing the terrified animal, the female cheetah chased the young impala back across the plain, all the way to her clumsy teenagers who were still waiting by the termite mound.”

The younger cheetahs have not quite learned how to hunt, and this was obviously one of their first lessons.

She released the impala to the teenagers, who were bewildered and confused about what to do next. They first looked at each other, as if deciding, and finally, they gave chase.

Learning curve: A confused young cheetah. Photo by Mikey Carr Hartley

“It was a cat and mouse situation,” said Mikey. “The bumbling cheetahs followed, tripped, waited and then followed the terrified animal again, before they eventually killed it.”

As cruel as this seems, it’s an important process for the cubs to learn how to chase and ‘ankle tap’ their prey, as well as the technique of suffocating the animal quickly.

“This will be essential for their survival in the future.”

Follow Paul Steyn on Twitter or Instagram @steynless

A Vulnerable male southern African cheetah, Acinoyx jubatus, at Zoo Miami. The photograph is one of thousands of portraits made by photographer Joel Sartore for the National Geographic Photo Ark, an ambitious project committed to documenting every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations.
A Vulnerable male southern African cheetah, Acinoyx jubatus, at Zoo Miami. The photograph is one of thousands of portraits made by photographer Joel Sartore for the National Geographic Photo Ark, an ambitious project committed to documenting every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations.

The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year project to photograph all species in captivity. The cheetah is one of them. To learn more about the Photo Ark, visit natgeophotoark.org,

Follow the Photo Ark photographer Joel Sartore and the National Geographic Photo Ark on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, and add your voice using #SaveTogether.

Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel and wildlife magazine, and now focuses on nature storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: paul@paulsteyn.com Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram
  • Oluwaseun Ajayi

    having your scrotum eaten alive is the heighest pain an animal can go through. I wish these guys had put aside nature’s will and help this animal out

  • samantha

    a lot better than today some of people

  • samantha

    why human being not like this??????????

  • dawa sherpa

    so cute.love it

  • Sabrina Lizares

    wished I didn’t watch what happened!! How sad!!

  • marcus souza

    Where’s the rest of the video?

  • alexander kromtit

    Wonderful lessons! Is indeed the act of learning the art of survival which is also applicable to we humans you just have to start life from some where.

  • Elínbjört Jónsdóttir

    Ín my survei of thos photos and film, I belive this is two events, the photos shovs defenetly an Cheetah and baby Inpala but the film shovs a Lephard play with and kil a Impala calve and bring it up a tree as is its nature. The Lephard is thicker and have spots with yellow dot in the middle, but Cheetah have much thinner and longer body with in drawn stomach. It’s spotts are all dark and verry distinct stripes down it’s face.

  • Rosalind Louise Newton

    i decide against watching this sick video that someone obviously thought would be a good idea to put on social media i know this is nature but i do not wish to watch this kind of content i think the person that recorded this and watch this poor animal die in such a way is sick themselfs.

    • Paul Steyn

      Hi there. Nowhere in the video does an animal die. So you are free to view the clip if you are worried about witnessing any gory scenes.

  • chris

    Glad I read these comments first. I won’t watch the video.

  • David

    the video is lame did not show What the article said. Laaaame.

    • Paul Steyn

      Hi David. The video is just one part of the full story. It shows the young cheetah a little confused about the situation and still learning what to do next…

  • Candice Roma

    I can only assume those of you who are opposed to a cheetah killing an impala for survival are 100% vegan and never wear animal skins (ie., leather) and are repulsed by humans who do so. Otherwise, you’re really just hypocrites who want this cheetah family to starve to death.

  • james

    “One pounce, she’s hungry—you die quickly. Two, she’s teaching her cubs—you’re in for a long day.”

    sorry somehow reminded me of that

  • saktheedharan

    Very valuable tips given … Thanks for the tips to be used when coming across wild animals.

  • Andrew oneal

    Hello Paul Steyn my name is Andrew Oneal I love all animals I’m 10 but when I grow up I’m going to make a conservation fund called RPS rescue preserve and save to save endanger critically endangered vulnerable and extinct the wild.from going extinct I will save all the species I can I WILL MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!!

  • Andrew Turner

    When We talk about Human Being, …, It’s the Father, …, Who has to teach, …, about working, …, !!!, …, isn’t it, …, ???, … .

  • Violet

    My kids loved the video and story. I had no idea that cheetahs had “hunting school”

  • Yuliya Fox

    The comments on this video are laughable ;; Cheetahs are predators, they have to hunt and kill for survival. Mama Cheetah was teaching her kids to kill quickly and efficiently – their prey dies quickly and doesn’t suffer long. This video doesn’t even show the impala dying… ? This is how the world works guys.

  • Goran

    Human..the creature who destroyes everything good on this world has something to say against natural surviving…
    What a patetic coments… what a patetic ppl..(some of them))

  • Jesse Mason

    Rosalind Louise Newton, how is documenting a natural event then suggest anything about the nature of the person documenting it?

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