Visitors to the Kruger National Park in South Africa recently shared an unforgettable experience. A video posted on YouTube shows two cheetahs walking towards the visitor’s vehicle. One of the cheetahs briefly inspects the car and then jumps on the hood as the driver quickly closes their window. The cheetah curiously looks at the passengers through the windscreen and even hisses at its excited observers.

Spotting a cheetah in the vast Kruger National Park is considered a lucky feat, but having one on your car is a rare occurrence. This, however, is not entirely unusual behaviour for the big cats. Cheetahs have previously been seen using vehicles as vantage points to search for prey or scan the bushveld for potential threats. Cheetahs lack the climbing skills of leopards and other cats and cannot retract their claws. This, however, does not stop them from jumping onto termite mounts, sign posts, dead trees, or evidently cars too.

The Earth Touch crew filming in the Serengetti got much more than they bargained for when some cheetahs decided to use the roof of the vehicle as a lookout post.

It is always exciting to have a close experience with a wild animal, but it's certainly not encouraged – these face-to-face encounters could endanger the animals and people involved. In this instance, however, the tourists appeared to have no choice in the matter and were smart to quickly shut the car window.

Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and face threats like habitat loss and ecological degradation, among others.

Top header image: Ferdinand Svehla, Flickr