Botswana president clawed by cheetah

Botswana's President Ian Khama has received two stitches in his face after being clawed by a cheetah, a government spokesman said on 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.

The cheetah was being fed in an enclosure close to where Khama was standing, became excited and somehow managed to get its claw across the president's face.

Khama, 60, was not admitted to hospital, but did receive treatment.

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.

Cheetahs, the fastest land mammals, are one of the few large cats not to have fully retractable claws. Far from being razor sharp the claws are more akin to those of a dog than a lion.

A 2007 study by a conservation group found there wre about 1,700 cheetah in Botswana, a country framed for wildlife and its national parks which take in swathes of the Kalahari desert and the Okavango Delta.

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.

But he is better known for his patronage of conservation organisations rather than daredevil antics like his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who was once photographed with a tiger.

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