This is starting to read like a post on repeat. Cheetah hunts antelope. Cheetah catches antelope. Cheetah starts to feed but lion/leopard/hyena robs it of it’s hard-earned meal. It happened again, this time to the male cheetah, on the day he returned to Londolozi territory.
He had been spending a few days west of us, but early one morning one of the Londolozi staff workers, driving in to the lodge for the day, radioed ahead to say that he had spied a solitary cheetah on the main access road to camp. Radioing in for the position, we sped to there and arrived just as the sun was poking up over the horizon. Sure enough, the male cheetah was on a termite mound, scanning the valley below him for any hunting opportunity which might present itself. He tried for some kudu initially, but they spotted him fairly soon and sounded the alarm with their big, booming bark. The cheetah moved off down the slope, eventually perching on an elevated cluster of Dolerite boulders.
We could see that he was watching a mixed herd of impala and zebra to our north, but we lost sight of him as he moved off the rocks to begin his approach. He was on the wrong side of an exposed dirt track that ran between him and the herbivores, and we never even saw him cross it when suddenly the herd scattered in panic. The cheetah had hurtled in, through a minefield of grass-covered rocks and Spikethorn bushes, too quick for our eyes to follow. When Sandros Sihlangu found him again a few minutes later, he had a dead impala ram at his feet.
His deep chest moved in and out rapidly as he recovered after the chase, but he was not to enjoy the spoils. A hyena, having heard the commotion, came sniffing along to investigate, and from there it was a foregone conclusion. The hyena raced in to steal the kill, but surprisingly the cheetah stood his ground. Arching his back and erecting his fur to make himself look as large as possible, hissing all the while, the cheetah could only watch in dismay as he lost yet another meal to a rival predator.
Have a look at this sequence of photos showing the cheetah bristling at the hyena’s approach:
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell