For anyone who has seen a cheetah in the wild, you will understand how rare and exhilarating the experience is. That said, we have recently been incredibly fortunate to have a young male cheetah roaming the reserve and we can never quite be sure where he might pop up next. Nick wrote about the whereabouts of where we had been seeing the cheetah of late, but things have shifted slightly in that the young male is now popping up all over the show.
Setting off on a recent morning drive, our focus and hopes were to find the large herd of buffalo that can often be found moving between water holes across the open grass plains in the southwest. The vast plains are however also always your best bet when searching for a cheetah. It wasn’t long after I explained this to my guest when we heard over the radio that a cheetah had been found! I couldn’t believe our luck, as although seeing a cheetah was high up on my guest’s wish list of animals to see, they knew it could be hit or miss during their three-day stay.
Needless to say, we got ourselves across there as quickly as possible only to arrive at an empty scene. The young male cheetah had taken off into some thicker vegetation and disappeared. The vehicle fell silent. We knew he had to be somewhere close by but the challenge was on again. Knowing how quickly they can cover ground while chasing after their prey, we started widening the radius of our search from where he had last been seen. Was it a successful hunting attempt or would he disappear into the long grass to catch his breath? We weaved our way through the long grass, holding our breath while equally preparing ourselves that our chances of finding him again were quickly diminishing.
Peaking around the corner of a few round-leafed teak bushes, we got a flash of commotion. What could it be?
Although to some it may be a tough scene to watch, myself, tracker Bennet and our guests were in absolute awe at the strength and determination of the young cheetah, fighting against an incredibly powerful large male impala. It truly was an intense battle. The raw beauty of the circle of life some might say, we just knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting as we ended up being in the right place at just the right time!
Although impalas look relatively dainty, while watching this fight go on, it was impressive to see just how strong an impala can be as it is fighting for its life. After battling it out for a few minutes, eventually, the cheetah’s strength and determination won. Below is a snippet of what we witnessed.
A truly remarkable sighting to be a part of.
After a long hard-won battle, it was a relief that this cheetah had been able to secure himself a decent meal. Life for cheetahs is incredibly challenging, being at the bottom of the predator hierarchy the odds are heavily stacked against them and often a carcass like this is stolen shortly after one has taken its first bite. Luckily in this case the cheetah was able to have its fill and replenish all the energy it had spent in the hunt.