Today, International Cheetah Day, is the perfect occasion to share the story of a beautiful cheetah and her four tiny cubs.
On our safari that ended a few weeks ago we enjoyed epic wildlife: hundreds of elephants every day, lions and more lions, buffalo, sable, zebra, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, painted dogs and so many more species. Every day gave us something new – but, alas, no cheetahs.
Until the very last day. And then, what a gift!
We heard that a cheetah had been seen in the Back Pans area near camp and set out in mid-afternoon to try to spot her. We found the reedbuck she had killed earlier, but there was no sign of her. The guides said that usually when a cheetah has left a kill, she won’t come back to it.
Just as we were about to leave, we spotted her emerging from a thicket about 60 yards away. Graceful and beautiful, she walked steadily towards us.
She stood over the kill, scanning all around for any danger, especially the baboons that were grunting and barking nearby. Satisfied there was none, she made a harsh purring sound with her eyes fixed on another thicket about 100 yards away.
That’s when we saw them coming out of hiding. Four furry little grey cubs, about three months old, barely visible as they trotted through the tall grass towards their Mama. We sat mesmerized in our open vehicles, no more than a few yards away, as the cheetah kept a careful lookout while the little ones clambered all over each other to feed.
Once, because she saw something, the cheetah made a little warning sound and the cubs instantly scampered away and hid in a thicket. When she felt secure again, she called them to come back. Our Tasimba guests sat in fascinated silence for over an hour, totally absorbed in the rare privilege of this unforgettable wilderness moment.
A female cheetah brings her cubs up alone. She hunts alone too, to feed herself and her young. She has to keep moving them from one hiding place to another to protect them from other predators who will kill her cubs if they find them. And, for about two years, she will teach them how to hunt before they are able to fend for themselves. Sadly, she is very likely to lose one or more of the cubs to other predators before they reach adulthood.
We were blessed that day. As we are on any day on a Tasimba safari, when we get to watch Africa’s most beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Thank you, Mama cheetah and your little furballs! Hamba kahle (go safely)!
Watch a snippet of our unforgettable afternoon with the cheetah family. Be sure to turn the volume up to hear the wonderful nature sounds!