Warthogs “steal” impala kill off cheetah

by Hamish Rodgers – Clearwater Kudu Lodge

One July morning staff and guests of Clearwater Kudu Lodge were woken by the sound of impala warning calls in the camp.

Upon investigation we found a very relaxed male Cheetah feeding on a male impala kill on the camp lawn. We all watched him for some time.

Later a large sounder of warthog (four adults and eight young) approached the carcass unaware of the Cheetah sleeping about 10 metres away.

The cheetah made an attempt to catch a warthog piglet but was chased off by the entire warthog sounder. What followed then was even more interesting, the warthog returned to the impala carcass and commenced feeding on it. Not only was just the stomach contents eaten but they ate bits of flesh as well.

In the reference book Smithers – Mammals of the Southern African Subregion reference is made to this rare carrion feeding behaviour as being rare and atypical but occurring on occasion. Perhaps the fact that it was the height of winter and the warthogs were under nutritional stress played a role in this behaviour. This is the first time in all my years as a guide that I have seen them do this.

Note: The eating of carrion has been observed on a few occasions on Welgevonden by both warthog and bushpig, especially when larger carcasses are available.

But “stealing” a kill from a cheetah is unheard of!

– André Burger, Welgevonden Game Reserve, Conservation Manager