sabi sabi ranger stories

cheetah cub

Getaway - March 2003

It was roughly 08h15 on a very rainy morning when we eventually found the female Cheetah and her 8-month-old cub on open area Nkonkoni plains. It took us nearly 2 hours of serious tracking to find her perching on a termite mound, the cub lying at the foot of the mound, sleeping. She was definitely hungry, and looked as if she had not had a decent meal in at least 5 days. She was out on the hunt.

About 15 minutes later she spotted the herd of Impala on the Western end of the open area. Without wasting any more time, she started stalking with great urgency. The young cub was following his mothers every move, just a few paces behind. After about 20 minutes of serious stalking, she went down for the final crouch before the charge.

Within less than 2 minutes it was all over. The female was making her way back to the cub with a young Impala clutched in her jaws. As soon as she reached the cub, she dropped the Impala, and to everyone’s surprise it was not dead. She caught it once more and brought it back for the cub to finish off, all part of the learning experience.

As soon as the lamb hit the ground, one could see the inexperience and confusion setting in on both the faces of the young Cheetah cub as well as the Impala lamb. For all of about 30 minutes, neither Cheetah nor Impala knew what to do, and chased one another around like two young ones from the same species. Eventually the young Impala saw a gap and started speeding back to the herd without stopping to look back. The young Cheetah looked very confused and allowed the Impala just a little too much space, it made a clean getaway. With his tail between his legs, the cub returned to his mother, who upon returning to the termite mound gave him a look that would send shivers down even a human spine.

Never in over two years in the bush, have I had such an experience. This is definitely the type of sighting to wish for.

Stefan Schoeman

Ranger - Bush Lodge

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