While driving we came across a cheetah mother and her single cub. Probably she had more cubs but as so often the case, cubs get killed by predators such as hyena, lions and leopards. Without siblings the mother has to interact more with her cub and of course the cub, who is wanting to always play, keeps jumping on the mom. We have 150-600mm telephoto lenses on our cameras so it makes the photos look like we are relatively close to them even though we are a long distance away from them. Because of the extreme distance the quality of the shots is not great but it was such a touching series that we decided to include them anyway. You can view our earlier cheetah post to see quality images of cheetahs. Enjoy this mother and cub interaction.
After a bit of play time and some tender moments the mother cheetah moves to a termite mound where she can look over the savannah to keep an eye out for danger.
We might as well admit it. Yes, we were more than lucky on this trip. Not only did we see numerous lions and a leopard with her cub (a very rare experience) but we also had the opportunity to get very close to some cheetahs which is not a common occurrence. We suspect that these four cheetahs were either a mother with her 3 older cubs that will soon leave her or four young siblings hanging together since recently leaving their mother. Escaping the hot African sun is always a priority so finding a tree with a bit of shade to sleep under is important.
Cheetahs have spots just like leopards but are easy to differentiate because their face has a “teardrop” marking under their eyes. They also have very long legs and their head is small in proportion to their body compared to other cats in the Serengeti.
The cheetah finds a tall lookout to scan the horizon for potential prey. Here they are using an old termite mound which is just slightly higher than the surrounding savannah.
The cheetah is the fastest animal in the world and can reach speeds of 110 kilometers per hour. They can accelerate to this speed in just 3 seconds which is the technique they use to hunt. However, this speed can only be maintained for a few seconds so they must make their kill fast or the prey will escape.
Growing up in Africa, Tricia has been in about 20 game parks but had never seen a leopard. They are largely nocturnal and very elusive. She told Vincent, our guide from Exotic Expeditions, that she wanted him to find her a leopard today. Well, it was our lucky day as we came across a leopard. High in a large rock outcropping you could see some movement behind the trees. It was difficult to tell it was a leopard but Vincent said he could see it. Patience and luck are the keys to wildlife photography – and a big telephoto lens! After about 30 minutes, the leopard came out from the brush and appeared ready to have a few photos taken.
We were thrilled to see such a majestic animal. However, it seemed a bit odd that a nocturnal cat was active during the day. Usually they find a nice shaded tree to sleep in and avoid the heat. Then it became clear – she had company. Her small cub also came out to get it’s picture taken as well. Although difficult to photograph at approximately 50 metres away we were able to capture a few good pictures.