How to Catch a Cheetah

Captured CheetahCropped from a photo most likely by Aden Bishar.

Not that I could do it, but it isn’t that hard to chase down a gazelle. The issue is that these really fast animals cannot keep those speeds up for a long period of time. Humans are one of the relatively few animals that can run long distances in the heat. In fact, that’s how we used to hunt: run down animals until they were exhausted so we could easily kill them.

The same thing is going on with cheetahs, which can run up to 64 miles per hour. But I still think you’d have to be crazy to chase one. I mean, they’ve got huge, sharp… They can leap about… Look at the bones![1]

But Nur Osman Hassan knew he had to do something when two rogue cheetahs decided that it was a whole lot easier to just kill and eat from his trip of goats.[2] After 15 kills, he finally got a group of neighbors together and they chased the cheetahs. This was done in the middle of the day when the cheetahs’ reletively poor temperature regulation would be their undoing. They chased them for just four miles. Then, according to the BBC, “The cheetahs got so tired they could not run any more.”

This is where the story gets interesting. “The villagers captured them alive and handed them over to the Kenya Wildlife Service.” I’m amazed by this because this doesn’t strike me as the way we would have done it here. I know, cheetahs are threatened species. But in America, the farmers would have just killed the cheetahs and dared the authorities to do anything about it.

I suspect that Hassan especially wanted to catch the cheetahs and turn them over to the authorities, because he wants to be compensated for his 15 goats. But I still think these farmers are better people than we are. And this has nothing to do with any ideas of the noble “savage.” It is just that Americas have been so rich for such a long time that we have a real attitude about what we are supposedly owed.

In the case of Hassan, I suspect that he is none too certain that he’s going to get compensated for his loss. The report does not indicate just how big a farm he has, but I figure he’s a fairly wealthy guy by local standards because he wasn’t even around to manage the situation when it started. So he could easily have taken a more vindictive approach to the cheetahs. Regardless, the situation worked out well for everyone, including the cheetahs. And I hope that Hassan gets his money.

[1] In case you don’t recognize it:

[2] A group of goats is generally referred to as a herd, tribe, or trip. I picked the most oblique.


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