How Does a Cheetah Protect Itself?

A cheetah protects itself by using its speed, hunting in the early morning or evening instead of at night, dragging prey to concealment, and eating quickly before other predators intrude. Sometimes young male cheetahs in groups called coalitions get together to drive away larger predators.

Because of their speed, healthy adult cheetahs are usually not endangered by other predators. Cheetahs can accelerate quickly and reach speeds of from 50 to 70 mph, which is more than fast enough to flee from enemies. However, they lose at least half their prey to marauding lions, leopards and hyenas. A cheetah generally does not put up a fight but gives up its kill quickly to another predator because, if the cheetah is injured while fighting, it can no longer hunt. To keep from surrendering its prey, a cheetah avoids other predators by hunting during the day, hiding while it eats, and devouring its kill as quickly as possible.

Cheetah cubs, especially in the first few weeks after birth, have a mortality rate of up to 90 percent. They are hunted by lions, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas and eagles. Cheetah cubs protect themselves by hiding in thick foliage where their spotted coats provide camouflage. Female cheetahs are sometimes successful in defending their young from encroaching predators.