The South African Air Force says two cheetahs, which live on an air base to keep other animals off the runway, have attacked an officer.

Air Force spokeswoman Marthie Visser said on Thursday the male cheetahs wandered into a hangar. A warrant officer saw them and tried to take a picture when they attacked her. The woman was not seriously injured and has been released from a hospital. The cheetahs will remain on the base.

Visser said the Makhado base, in northern South Africa, is surrounded by nature reserves and that the cheetahs act as natural wildlife population control. In a program that began in the 1990s, cheetahs, the world's fastest land animals, are selected from a breeding program to hunt smaller animals that pose hazards to flight safety.