East African Safari – Episode 8 – Cheetahs (including video)
I’ve already “let the cat” out of the proverbial “bag” in previous posts but we spent some incredible time with numerous Cheetahs while in Tanzania. As we were setting up our trip I had told our guide Ethan (http://www.ethan-kinsey.com) that we had not seen a cheetah in the wild on our previous african trips and hoped that we would find some on this trip. On our second day, there we were out in the prairie with all kinds of animals around when Ethan looked down in a valley to the left and said “hmmm…. there isn’t any animals down there – I wonder why….?” Off we went to see what was happening and we were rewarded with an introduction to a female cheetah and her young offspring. They were on a worn down termite mound and were harassing a large (about 5′ long) Monitor lizard who was protecting her eggs. After a while, they wandered away with us following them pretty closely. They finally found a tree to relax under and we shared the shade with them as they took their nap. As they started to stir, the daughter started exploring the nearby surroundings and gave us some good photo ops . This photo gives you a good look at the sleek body and also the claws – which are not retractable like other cats. The reason for that is that the Cheetahs use them as “spikes” (like on track shoes) to gain traction during their hunting sprints.
We eventually left them for a little while but returned to find them near a bushy area where they had found a gazelle. We sat nearby as they completely devoured the small animal. While it wasn’t really pleasant to watch, it was fascinating to share their mealtime in close quarters as they kept scanning the plains for potential danger – the Cheetah are not at all aggressive and would abandon their prey at the first sight of any other predator. Here’s a photo of Mom before she cleaned up from the meal.
We actually saw this same pair of cheetahs several times and spent some nice time with them – including our first “boarding” of our safari vehicle by the young one that I discussed in my post http://scottseyephotos.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/weekly-photo-challenge-object/.
I don’t think that I’ve mentioned that we had that same experience two more times during our trip. I’ve never posted a video before but our friend Mike took this one of a different female a few days later – I think it does a real nice job of showing you what that experience was like. First she jumped on the hood, then up on the roof (and yes the roof hatches were all open) with nothing between her and us. She finally jumped down as she was startled when her tail hit the radio antenna! I hope you enjoy….we sure did (and do – every time we look at the photos and videos). Also – suggest you show it full screen to get the maximum effect….