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This is...Deadly 360.
The show that pits three of the world's deadliest predators
against their prey.
Examining their hunting strategies and escape tactics...
from every angle.
By delving beneath the fur and the feathers
we find out why a hunt succeeds...
and why they sometimes fail.
One thing's certain -
prey animals are anything BUT sitting ducks.
Their defensive strategies keep them alive.
And push predators to the limits.
Prepare for Deadly 360.
This is Deadly 360 mission control,
where all of today's action and analysis takes place.
From here we have access to some of the most enthralling hunts
that have ever been caught on camera.
I've recreated three of the most exciting
and analysed them from a variety of different angles and perspectives
in true 360-degree style.
The predators have to find and catch food
or they just won't make it.
In the wild, managing to survive is the greatest challenge of all.
I present to you...the big cats.
In today's line-up, we look at the world's fastest land animal,
A speed merchant who lives life at a rocket's pace.
We also meet a group of lionesses - masters of group hunting
who are not afraid to tackle prey twice their size.
And in the forests of India,
the magnificent tiger who uses stealth to track down prey.
Three big cats, three very different hunting strategies, all deadly.
They look invincible
but there's a continual arms race going on in nature,
which ensures that prey animals are always evolving spectacular ways
of taking care of themselves.
Today's line-up of defenders
includes the gazelle -
an agile antelope with an incredible turn of speed.
And the zebra, a true master of confusion with moves to match.
And we analyse the deer's many moves for evasion and escape.
Three different prey, three different escape strategies
to deny the most persistent of predators.
I've introduced you to all of our contenders,
now it's time to meet our first deadly duo going head-to-head.
Our first competitor is a cat that is a true athlete
and complete speed freak. It's the cheetah.
And up against it, is this...
..the Thomson's gazelle.
But which animal has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
We join the action just before the critical moment of impact.
This is the cheetah at full speed, hurtling across the land
at nearly 70 miles an hour.
And the gazelle is twisting and turning at speed,
certainly no easy meal.
But up against this lightning hunter,
it looks like the gazelle's met its match.
Even in a hunt like this, there are still lots of factors in play.
To find out why a predator might succeed or fail,
we need to wind back the action and build-up the entire hunt,
right from the beginning.
This hunt takes place in East Africa.
In the savannah of the Masai Mara.
This is one of the world's great wildlife hot spots
and it's the typical habitat for the cheetah.
Open plains, shrublands, but also very high temperatures.
These open grasslands, though,
allow the cheetah to get a fantastic panoramic view of their prey
before selecting a target.
And where you find wide-open grasslands
you find browsers and grazers,
including small antelope called gazelles.
Grazing in large herds,
they flock to the grassy plains where the landscape's open,
allowing them to feed on the short grass.
We've set the scene,
but how do these animals operate in this environment
and what attributes do they have
that tip the balance in their favour?
First up, the cheetah has binocular vision,
perfect for picking out gazelles up to three miles away.
Next, it's the cheetah's famous acceleration and its speed -
0 - 65 miles an hour in three seconds!
And finally, its claws - curved, sharp, lethal.
With all that to help it hunt, you'd think that our predator
would have no trouble making a kill.
But our prey also has some pretty nifty means of defence.
Gazelles can't match the speed of the cheetah
but they can outrun them over long distances
and that's down to their amazing stamina.
They're also excellent escape artists
with the ability to leap four and a half metres in a single bound
and make sharp turns to outmanoeuvre the cheetah.
So it's not going to be easy for any predator to pick off that prey.
That's the background - let's get the hunt underway.
The cheetah's spotted the herd of gazelles
but there's a group of 60-plus individuals
so first, it needs to select a target
and the secret to that is in its eyes.
The cheetah relies almost entirely on its vision
to track down its prey.
The fovea, the area at the back of the eye which gives focus,
is much broader than our own.
It gives them a panoramic view which is twice as wide as we can see.
They also have an amazing amount of sharp focus,
and can see their prey as much as three miles away.
In preparation for the chase, the cheetah absorbs oxygen
into her body,
through her large nostrils.
They can increase their breathing rate
up to 150 breaths per minute.
That's more than double that of a professional athlete.
OK, let's check out the start of the hunt.
This acceleration is extraordinary.
Cheetahs have been clocked going from a standing start
to 64 miles an hour in three seconds.
Look at this, it's spending as much as half of its time
with all four feet off the ground.
It's pretty much flying!
This is a perfect opportunity to take a look at how it does it.
The cheetah is much lighter for its size than any other cat.
The reason for that is that the bones are longer, slimmer,
and much more lightweight.
The head's very small,
it offers the absolute minimum of wind resistance
and streamlines the animal as it drives forward.
Now let's look at its gait.
It's proceeding in a series of leaps,
almost extending its body into a horizontal shape.
The way it does that is by having incredibly flexible joints,
here at the hips and here at the shoulders.
As it runs, the spine flexes almost like a bow,
storing up elastic energy which retracts the feet back
at incredible speeds,
driving the animal forwards.
Let's see all of this in action.
Back to the hunt, and the cheetah's at full stretch.
Her temperature's rising to a staggering 40 degrees centigrade.
If she doesn't make the kill in 300 metres or so,
she'll overheat and that could be fatal.
Every extra second that the hunt lasts works in the gazelle's favour.
It's dodging from side to side, zigzagging, which really helps it
cos the cheetah goes in a straight line
and this movement will put it off its stride.
The longer it lasts
the more the gazelle's endurance comes into play
and that's all about its heart and lungs.
Let's take a closer look.
OK, this is our gazelle.
The windpipe is very large.
This means that it can suck in much more oxygen into its body
as it's running.
That oxygen is than transferred to the blood
and then powered around the body
using this, its heart.
It's about double the size of other animals
around about as big as this gazelle is.
That's the engine that's going to keep this animal moving
and that's the important thing.
So, certainly not helpless.
Let's return to the action.
With time now running out, the only way for her to succeed
is to trip the gazelle,
but to do this, she's got to get very close.
This is really the crux point of the hunt.
If she's miscalculated, she could easily receive
a kick to the head, which could even prove fatal.
It's the crucial moment.
As the cheetah's in its final stride, she takes a swipe and...
the gazelle's down, she's done it!
But it's actually even more impressive than that.
If we just rewind...and then watch it back in slow motion,
it looks like the gazelle's legs have been taken out from under it
but if we zoom in, you can see, the cheetah's sharp, hooked dew claw
has actually slashed right into the tendons of the gazelle.
It's left it with a really serious injury.
The cheetah can now head in
and with a bite to the throat, suffocate the animal.
That is a perfect and successful hunt.
If you were to start from scratch
and design a mammal that was built for flat-out sprint speed,
you'd come up with something that looked like a cheetah.
All of those adaptations, that exquisite body shape
mean they can be successful in as much as 50% of their hunts.
The gazelle's sharp manoeuvring, stamina
and agility made sure he gave the cheetah the run-around.
But today, the cheetah's sensational speed,
eyesight and hooked claws made sure she got the kill.
Now onto our next pair of hunters, locked in a battle for survival.
It's the biggest of all the big cats - the tiger.
Reaching up to three and half metres and weighing in perhaps 300kg,
they really are the heavyweight of the cat world.
And up against it is this.
The chital deer. Just like the gazelle, it's swift and agile
and will be tricky to catch.
But which has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
We join the hunt at a critical time.
The tiger's hurtling at full stretch towards the deer,
closing down the gap with every enormous stride.
These deer are in a race for their lives.
So if we freeze the action at this crucial moment,
who do the odds favour? The predator or the prey?
Well, to find out, let's take it back to the start
and examine the hunt in forensic detail.
First though, where are we?
From the savannahs of East Africa we're now travelling
to the hot, dry forests of central India.
That means woodland and thicker vegetation.
No use for a cheetah,
but for the tiger, this is the perfect environment.
It's the height of the dry season and temperatures are scorching,
so hunting is difficult and dangerous.
And this is one of its favourite meals - the chital.
The forests are fantastic feeding grounds for these deer.
They graze in large herds on the long grass and on the leaves.
So, that's the location. Let's meet the animals.
So, what are the tigers weapons?
Well, firstly, its distinctive coat. Its black, white and orange stripes
are perfect camouflage for stalking its prey.
Next is its power and strength, weighing up to 300kg
and able to jump a whopping six metres.
And let's not forget those teeth.
Long and pointed, they can pierce through flesh with frightening ease.
All of this makes our predator a pretty scary prospect.
What does our prey animal have to counter?
Well, this is a deer that will leap, lunge and lurch its way
out of danger.
And it may not have size or strength on its side, but it is fast.
With its light frame, it can reach speeds of 40mph.
Add to this its incredible hearing and some lookouts
up in the trees, and this is certainly not an easy meal.
So we have two very different animals.
But which one's going to come out top in this hunt?
Let's find out.
We join the hunt with the tiger already having spotted the deer.
He's using his camouflage to stay hidden and out of sight.
You might think that orange with black and white stripes
isn't great camouflage, but you can hardly see him.
He blends right into the grass.
It's this cover that's crucial for the tiger.
He weighs about six times as much as a cheetah,
so he can't sustain a sprint over longer distances.
Getting as close as he can before springing an attack is vital.
But he doesn't just use stealth to stalk his prey,
he also relies on his eyesight.
Like most predators, like the cheetah we saw,
tigers have binocular vision.
This is the part of their sight where the vision from each eye
overlaps and it means that they're phenomenally good
at judging distance and space and movement.
Really important when trying to creep up
on prey that's as sensitive as these deer.
The tiger's just 20 metres away,
but being this close needs extreme care.
If the tiger strays upwind of the deer,
they'll smell him.
It's so dry, that moving through this crackling grass
is like walking on Corn Flakes.
A nightmare when you're trying to keep quiet.
The chital deer are always alert for the possible presence of a predator
and maybe the most sensitive sense is their hearing.
Look at the size of their ears,
they function like satellite dishes. They have one flicking forwards
and the other flicking backwards, always listening out for a sound
that could mean danger.
How will our tiger have the element of surprise
creeping up on these animals that are listening out for it?
Let's take a closer look at what's going on in his body.
There are very few more dramatic spectacles
than a tiger in full flight.
Everything about this animal just exudes muscularity.
After all, a fully grown male could weigh three times more than I do.
It's this muscular build that allows the tiger to spring
from a standing start, giving it the advantage over its prey.
Massive muscles launch it forward at breakneck speed,
accelerating up to 35mph in a matter of seconds.
And every single leap, every bound,
is going to put enormous stress on its skeleton
so the bones are huge and a lot of that is down to shock absorption.
It has that wonderful flexing gait.
You can see the spine there is bending as it runs,
the legs are extending out
in quite a similar method to the cheetah.
But if we compare the two,
it's much more slender, much more fragile.
In fact, the cheetah could be a tenth of the body weight of a tiger.
So, while the cheetah is built to be able to maintain its chase
over several hundreds metres,
all of this size, bulk, power,
muscularity of the tiger comes with a price.
If the chase isn't going to be over almost instantaneously,
the tiger is simply going to have to give up.
Right, back to the hunt.
This is the critical moment.
One wrong move now and it's all over.
The tiger edges slowly forward,
but in doing so reveals his location.
He's been detected by the monkeys and the deer. The alarm's raised.
Now everyone's on high alert.
Preparing for escape, the deer's body creates
chemicals like adrenalin
and the brain sends signals to the heart to start pumping more blood
to the muscles so she's ready for her exertion.
She's ready to go, the chase is on.
The deer are off, bursting out of the blocks like sprinters.
Their fantastic acceleration
gives them a split second head start over the tiger.
The deer are capable of going from standing around feeding
to 40mph in a matter of seconds. But how do they manage that?
Most of the deer's propulsion is coming from its back legs.
This is the where the muscle bulk is located.
But also running down the back of those legs
are springy elastic tendons.
Every time the deer lands, it stores up energy in those,
which it then releases as it springs away.
Almost like a bouncing rubber ball. It's certainly very impressive.
Right, back to the hunt.
We're now in the final moments of the chase
and the tiger's flat out, using his massive strength and power
to close the gap on the deer.
He's covering enormous ground in a series of linked jumps.
And each one of those leaps could be as much as six metres long,
which is like me jumping the length of a small bus.
As the tiger gets to within reach, the deer's speed and agility kick in
and they pull away.
At this critical point, the tiger doesn't have the stamina to keep up.
His massive bulk and weight drags his speed down.
He cannot catch the deer and has to resign.
There are so many different variables to consider
when you're looking at a tiger hunt. The wind, weather,
surrounding vegetation, the prey animal.
It's impossible to determine what the success rate will be.
That can vary from 50% success, which is pretty good,
right down to just 5% success and this time our tiger did not succeed.
So, the tiger may have camouflage,
power and super-sharp teeth...
..but today, the deer's speed, athletic agility
and keen hearing gave it the edge and left the tiger for dust.
This is our last deadly duo locked in a battle for life or death.
This is the iconic lion.
It can approach the size of the tiger in terms of size,
weighing as much as three men. And up against it is this.
The unmistakable zebra.
But which has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
So, once again, we pick up this hunt in the final stages,
as the lions zip towards their prey.
zebras are masters of confusion,
but right now it looks like they're in serious trouble.
OK, it's just about to leap.
But by now, you know there's a lot more to a hunt
than just the final strike.
What are the hidden factors
that influence what will happen in the next few seconds?
To find out, we need to wind back to the start
and dissect the hunt.
First, though, where's this drama taking place?
We're going back to the savannah of East Africa and to the Masai Mara
but this time we're heading close to the Mara River.
This is prime hunting territory for lions.
Lions are the most social of the cat family,
living in prides of up to 40 animals.
Hunting is done together as a pride,
but the lionesses do the majority of the hunting,
being lighter and more agile.
These areas of the savannah
are alive with mammals like zebra.
Zebra live in large herds
moving across the grasslands in search of food and water.
But this dependency on water makes them vulnerable to predators.
So, that's the scene set.
Let's have a look at some of our predator's attributes.
Firstly, the lion's power and strength.
Pretty handy when your prey is twice your size.
Next, hunting in groups, using intelligent team tactics.
Add to that short, powerful jaws with fearsome crushing power
and this is one top cat!
It looks like we're dealing with a sophisticated hunter.
How on earth can the prey stay out of this predator's clutches?
Maybe a zebra's most valuable weapon
is their black and white stripes.
Camouflage at its most confusing.
And next, their speed.
They can accelerate up to 35 miles an hour
and have superior stamina over longer distances.
And last, their hard-hitting hooves,
delivering a punch that can injure and potentially kill an attacker.
So our predator's going to find it pretty difficult
to get anywhere near this prey.
Let's see what happens.
We join the hunt.
The lionesses have already spotted the zebra at the watering hole
but they're keeping out of sight.
Much like the tiger, the lion is all about muscularity.
It needs the hunt to be short, sharp, decisive.
If we look at the action from above...
You can see the lionesses
moving silently towards the zebra,
taking up a horseshoe formation around it.
This is a perfect ambush.
They're all experienced hunters
and know instinctively where the other animals will be.
Now just look at this sinuous movement.
The lioness is the master of stalking,
perfectly adapted for creeping low along the ground.
OK, let's see how it manages to do that.
A lion's eyes are set high on its head,
so even when it's crawling along on its belly, it can still see.
If we go back to our aerial view,
we can see their stalking skills
have got them in an ambush position around the zebra.
But although all the lionesses need to work together as a team to hunt,
they only need one individual
to bring down a zebra.
Let's think about what's going on here.
The lion needs to get really close
to allow its spring and acceleration to come into play.
But look at the size of these zebras. This is a powerful animal.
To bring one of these down, you need to be really strong.
So what physical attributes does the lion have
that makes all this possible?
This is an animal that kills through brute force,
and this skull is just massive.
The most obvious thing to say about it is, it's incredibly heavy.
That's because it has very, very thick bone,
particularly here, encasing and protecting the brain,
also here at the jaw.
But when it comes to the final bite,
it has these at its disposal.
Look at the size of those canine teeth.
They're pretty much the size of my thumbs.
Very broad, long, and pointed at the end.
This gives it the advantage that the lion can make a killing blow
almost anywhere on its opponent.
So with all that in mind,
let's go back to the hunt.
The lionesses are ready to strike.
Prepare for a masterclass in teamwork.
In a split second, the lead lionesses take off,
getting up to 35 miles an hour in seconds.
But with the zebra now in motion,
the lionesses have to pick one out on the run
and that's not going to be easy.
The zebra's distinctive black and white striped colouration
looks dramatic, even beautiful, but believe it or not,
it's one of its chief defences against lions.
I'll show you how it works.
A lion's colour vision is nothing like as good as our own.
This is what a lion would see if looking at a herd on the horizon.
It's pretty confusing.
So for a start, these animals are much more likely
to blend into the wavy lines of the grasses of their background.
But it's much more than that.
Once a zebra herd starts a stampede,
it's almost impossible for a lion to pick out an individual animal,
and that's a very important part of the lion's hunting strategy.
Let's see how this drama plays out.
The lionesses are in pursuit of the zebra.
This senior lioness singles one out from the group and heads in on it.
With the zebra isolated, its striped defence is useless
and the lioness seizes her opportunity.
Ooh! That was nasty.
Let's just check that out again.
OK, you can see now the lioness has chosen her target,
but at the last second,
it's a total miscalculation.
It looks like she's heading for the rump, but instead
she's ended up getting kicked
and then trampled.
This could be really, really serious.
Like all members of the horse family,
zebras have phenomenally powerful kicks.
They could easily fracture a lion's skull,
perhaps cause an injury that could eventually kill them.
So really, this time it looks like she's escaped pretty well.
Right, back to the hunt.
While the first lioness recovers,
another takes up the chase,
coming in from a different angle.
She blindsides the panicked, fleeing animal,
engages her retractable claws,
hooking into and holding onto the prey.
Now the difficult part. She has to use all her power and strength
to overwhelm the zebra.
But after just a few seconds,
she's successful, and delivers her killer bite.
Although working together in a pride
means food has to be shared at the end of the day,
this is a much more effective way of catching prey.
It's reckoned the odds are 1 in 3 if you're working together as a group
and 1 in 5 when working alone.
So ultimately, the pride is more successful.
The zebra's defensive strategy
of deceptive design,
swift speed and a killer kick
paid off initially.
But with their incredible muscle power,
and tactical teamwork,
the lionesses were eventually successful.
The big cats are probably the most iconic and exciting of all predators
and whether they're killing in a flat-out foot race,
from a silent ambush, or working together as a team,
their predatory skills are simply not in question.
That's all we've got time for.
Join us next time, as three more pairs of animals go head to head
and we analyse the action Deadly 360 style.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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