Botswana’s President Ian Khama has received two stitches in his face after being clawed by a cheetah, a government spokesman said Monday.
The incident occurred at a Botswana Defence Force barracks last week, spokesman Jeff Ramsay told AFP. “He was scratched by a cheetah last week but not really attacked per se,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay said Khama went to watch the cheetahs being fed early last week, as he often does. “One of them got excited and jumped up at him, with its claw reaching above the enclosure”, stated Ramsay. Khama is well over 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. He said it all happened very swiftly, catching the president and his aide by surprise.
Khama, 60, was not admitted to hospital, but did receive treatment and two stitches. He was seen last week with a plaster on his face.
Ramsay said there were no security implications and added that because of the minor nature of the injuries the government had initially decided not to issue a public statement.
Khama, a former lieutenant general who was trained at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, England and has been in power for five years, is known as something of outdoorsman.
Cheetahs are one of the few large cats not to have fully retractable claws, and are categorized as Acinonyx Jubatus, this roughly means non retractable claws (Acinonyx) with mantle (Jubatus). Far from being razor sharp, the claws are more akin to those of a dog than a lion.
They can reach speeds of 120kmph and can get from 0 to 100 km per hour in only 2.9 sec, which makes them faster than the fastest production vehicle.
A 2007 study by a conservation group found there were about 1,700 cheetahs in Botswana, a country framed for wildlife and its national parks which take in swathes of the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta.
Cheetahs are wild cats and precautions should be taken at all times and they should be treated with respect.
Date: 30 April 2013