Pitching a gangly-legged gazelle against the fastest land animal on the planet hardly seems like a fair fight.
But despite their lightning speed and physical prowess it is the cheetah not the gazelle that is endangered and so if the species is to survive it is vital for young predators to master the art of hunting.
These stunning images capture the moment a trio of cheetah cubs chase down a juvenile Thomson’s gazelle in a display of the raw survival skills required in the natural world.
The gazelle had previously been caught by the mother of the young animals, but instead of killing the animal herself, she released it to give her offspring some valuable hunting practise.
Seemingly a hugely one-sided fight, the sacrifice of the gazelle, whose numbers are flourishing on the African plains, is crucial to ensure the survival of the at risk cheetah species. The stunning images were captured by Exodus tour guide and wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein.
He said: ‘Currently there are four mums with cubs I have been working with. It is cold in the morning at this time of year so they are often difficult to find, but once they liven up they can be very entertaining subjects.
The cubs range from eight weeks to six months. A particular highlight, although brutal, was the one mother teaching her very young charges basic hunting skills, by giving them the present of a young gazelle fawn she had just downed.
It is often hard to watch, but cheetahs are desperately endangered, whereas Thomson’s gazelles are not – the day we run short of those fleet-footed antelope, we really have screwed up the planet.’
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal, reaching speeds of up to 70mph, and they are easily capable of outrunning any other animal over short distances thanks to an ability to accelerate from 0 to over 62mph in three seconds.