Elephant Plains: Cheetahs Rough-and-Tumble

By September 9, 2014 Elephant Plains No Comments

Andrew Reports from Elephant Plains:
Cheetahs Rough-and-Tumble

Did the Wild Dogs make a kill last night? This was our question as we went in search of them as soon as we left the Lodge this morning. We found their tracks. But they headed away from our area, and out of sight.

We had seen Salayexe’s tracks earlier on the way to find the dogs and returned to these, but we received a radio call that a cheetah family had been spotted in the east and quickly made our way there. 

And what a fabulous time spent with them. A cheetah mother and her two subadult (15 month old) cubs were moving, playing, tumbling … in short, cavorting around. Then the young male started to harass his sister. He really tried hard to assert his dominance, jumping around and swatting his sister – until mom intervened. 

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At one stage mom was lying on the ground, when suddenly she launched herself into the air, seeming to fly, with both cubs on their hind legs as well. The barrage of camera buttons captured the magical moment with all three airborne.

Then the cheetahs spotted a herd of impala and slowly started make their way towards them. Closer they crept, until the mother was close enough to start some serious stalking. This was all happening at the border of the Kruger Park and although the mom started to chase, within seconds the impala scattered to safety. 

By now it was time to head back to the Lodge, passing plenty of game … impala, elephants, kudu, zebras, giraffe, and buffalo.

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This afternoon we thought it would be a good idea to follow Salayexe’s tracks again, and this turned out to be the best ever decision. Within minutes we found Salayexe lying right at the edge of a dry river bed. She was fast asleep. We decided to remain with her, and shortly she began to move around.

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Then she spotted a bushbuck and started to stalk it. Slowly she zig-zagged closer and closer to her unaware prey. We held our breath as the stealthy cat made it to within meters of the bushbuck. She was on an open plain by now, and it was incredible to see how she closed in with very little cover – until she had just a few meters left … but the final stretch was just sand, no shrubs, no rocks, no hiding place. It was in that small area, without cover, that Salayexe reached almost close enough to leap … but she was just a tiny bit too far for success, and she abandoned her hunt. Only now the bushbuck finally spotted her and was gone in a flash.

Whew! Wow! We had just witnessed the most amazing stealth act! Incredible!

We had spent most of the afternoon with Salayexe, and it was time for some late sundowners … actually more ‘moonrisers’ as the sun was down and we watched the orange orb of the glowing moon rising slowly into the sky. And of course our cameras were very busy capturing that magical scene.

Tomorrow we would like to meet up with Salayexe again. Hopefully she will make a catch this time …