A cheetah in full-blown predatory pursuit is a sight to behold. But their astonishing acceleration and fleet-footed agility comes at a price: with bodies built for speed, cheetahs are the weakest of the big cats and often lose their meals to marauding lions or hyenas. Even warthogs can commandeer a cheetah kill with relative ease, as this footage recently captured in South Africa's Kruger National Park shows:

"To witness a warthog actually eating meat was baffling," said Shakera Kaloo who happened upon this curious bit of inter-species interaction just moments after entering the Kruger Park with her family last week. "We’ve never seen a warthog doing this, nor did we know that warthogs eat meat from a carcass!" 

Although it's rare to spot these unfortunate-looking suids tucking into a fleshy meal, it's certainly not out of character. Warthogs – medium-sized omnivores in the same family as pigs, hogs and boars – have a varied diet that includes everything from vegetation and roots to bird nestlings, snakes and rodents. They get the bulk of their nutrition from grass and forb roots which they dig out using their snouts and tusks often while kneeling – a characteristic pose that allows them to get closer to the ground.

Common warthogs, which are found in open woodland, shrubland, short grassland and floodplains across much of sub-Saharan Africa, show a particular preference for roots during the drier winter months between June and August when sweet grasses are not as readily available. As for the pigs' penchant for meat: they'll take it if they can get it and are likely more inclined to do so when other food items are scarce. 

In this instance, the cheetah relinquished its impala meal without a fight according to Kaloo leaving the warthogs to dine uninterrupted. If the cat's bulging belly is anything to go by, the cheetah had likely already enjoyed the bulk of the meal which may explain why it did little to chase off the scavengers.

The warthog's ungainly appearance coupled with its characterisation as a lovable-but-cowardly oaf in a certain Disney film, creates an unthreatening image. But these animals can be surprisingly aggressive and will fight with vicious zeal if predators stray too close. There are records of cheetahs and leopards succumbing to the sharp tusks of a warthog on the offensive.

This cheetah chose wisely in leaving the remainder of its meal to the pigs. 

Top header image: Ferdinand Svehla, Flickr