Our recent February 2017 Great Migration photographic safari has been fantastic in terms of photo opportunities but after the excitement of the amazing trip settled and began to review the 1000's of images captured I realised that we did not go one single day without spending some time with a Cheetah and her two cubs. We did come across others but these in particular were very special.
We saw them playing, stalking, resting, hunting, in good light, under the rain and in bad light so the overwhelming number of photographs captured truly deserves a small tribute to this family of spotted felines.
DAY 1 - Although these cubs are close to being adults they still had a lot of play in them. Here is the mother observing the two young ones having fun. This was our very first sighting that could not get much better. Well it did . . .
DAY 1 - I love shooting in the rain and I always encourage my guests to do so because some very interesting results can be achieved.
DAY 2 - Cheetahs are excellent hunters with incredible eyesight and they are the only cats that only hunt during the day. This was a lucky sighting as it often happens with wildlife. They were lying down very relaxed when suddenly the mother spotted potential prey and went for it right away and it all happened a few meters from our vehicle.
As the fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah is a marvel of evolution. Their slender, long-legged body is built for speed. They are tan in color with black spots all over their bodies and can easily be distinguished from other big cats by their smaller size, spotted coats, small heads, ears and distinctive "tear stripes" that stretch from the corner of the eye to the side of the nose.
The two cubs fight for what is left . . .
DAY 3 - The adult Cheetah climbs on a dead tree and poses beautifully in wonderful morning light.
Historically cheetahs were found throughout Africa and Asia. All the way from South Africa to India. Now, they are sadly confined to parts of eastern, central and southwestern Africa and a small portion of Iran with numbers having decreased dramatically. In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range. Today, an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa. In Iran, there are around 200 cheetahs living in small isolated populations.
DAY 4 - Scanning the open plains in Ndutu for a possible opportunity. Here one of the cubs looks back to check that the others are following.
DAY 5 - A Thompson's Gazelle has been spotted by the cheetahs. Unfortunately for the cats, the gazelle has also spotted the threat.
Found mostly in open to partially open savannah, cheetahs rely on tall grasses for camouflage when hunting. They are diurnal and active in the day. Cheetahs hunt mostly during the late morning or early evening and only 50% of the chases, which last from 20 - 60 seconds, are successful.
DAY 5 - And the chase is on !! This is an incredible experience to witness and if you manage to capture the action . . . well . . . even better.
Cheetahs knock their prey to the ground and kill with a suffocating bite to the neck. They must eat very quickly before they lose the kills to other bigger or more aggressive carnivores like hyenas or lions.
DAY 6 - Seeing a Cheetah at full speed is just mind blowing. Their top speed is around 113 km/h or 70 mph