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  • Writer's pictureMike Curtis

A post for World Cheetah Day

Well, who knew that December 4th is World Cheetah Day? It's a remarkable coincidence as I've been processing some images of Cheetahs that I was lucky enough to capture on a recent holiday to Kenya and Tanzania.

For the first time, we saw a female Cheetah with young cubs, four of them to be precise. Initially, we thought the distant sighting was a single Cheetah lying alongside a woody shrub, but it quickly became apparent that she had cubs with her. They were distant enough to require the use of a X2 extender on my 500mm lens.

We were extremely fortunate that the female was very much in hunting mode, which given the presence of four cubs, must be a permanent state. After surveying the immediate area, she led the cubs away across the savanna from one termite hill to another from where she briefly stopped to scan her surroundings and allow the cubs to catch up and reassemble.

After trailing them for some distance she eventually sighted a couple of Thompson's Gazelle. Remarkably the cubs went to ground immediately as their mother started to stalk the gazelle, after which we didn't see the cubs again. Unfortunately, the Cheetah mother was faced with flat, open ground between her and her prey, making it impossible for her to close the distance undetected. For a few seconds, she considered her options before breaking into a half-hearted sprint that she was never going to win. The Tommies snorted an alarm call and disappeared in a flash with the Cheetah having got nowhere near them.

As the mother slinked away toward another termite mound, the Tommies returned to follow her at a respectful distance. It was fascinating to see this behaviour which makes perfect sense when you think about it - the most dangerous cheetah is the one you don't see, so when a gazelle knows there's a cheetah near it's essential to keep an eye on it.

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