Jess Watt has been at Londolozi for almost two years and has recently moved from being a camp manager at Founders camp to our new assistant operations manager. She has always had a huge passion for the bush, has been in the industry for over three years and is incredibly committed to it. With her passion for the bush comes a passion for photography and she has asked me to create a blog on her behalf in order to share this passion with you all. Thank you Jess for your wonderful writing and breathtaking pictures, we look forward to having you with us as a more permanent blogger!
Swallows danced on light wing above Weaver’s Nest pan. Thirsty from the heat they descended to sip from the water. But everyone’s attention was not towards the sky but on the token cat lying in the grass next to the pan in the westerning light. The male cheetah looked like he had no intention of moving for the rest of the evening but everyone on the vehicle remained expectant. The air was so crisp after all the rains – the Drankensberg Mountains felt like they were within fingertip reach. This section of terrain empires occasional Marula trees and Apple Leafs but is mainly grassland; well-suited cheetah territory. And it was glowing. Temptation was to capture the moment through my lens but a single frame could not do it justice.
Then with as much direction and intention as day turns to night the cat had fire in his eyes. He intercepted the presence of a young impala with her lamb in the distance. His awareness unimaginable and the mood of the moment changed instantly. Something was unfolding…
The impala pair bounded carefree through the long grass while the cheetah instinctively gained meters towards them inconspicuously. The speed of the movement heightened the excitement on the vehicle. We followed in hot pursuit through the long grass trying to keep a visual on the chase. I distinctly remember the chaos of white-tipped tails of all three animals. The flash of white was the complete antithesis of surrender. This moment was about survival.
The cat had set his sights on the lamb and through precise execution and instinct he won his prize. The impala’s maternal bond was instantly evaporated but the cheetah refuelled his life energy.
Experiencing a kill from beginning to end out here remains controversial and emotionally unsolved for most. I know I float somewhere between emptiness for a mother’s loss of new life and evolutionary astonishment for survival of the fittest.