Wim Reports from Ndutu:
We were out as always in the early darkness. Within 10 minutes we found a subadult cheetah, but it was still so dark that we couldn’t actually see what it was doing. Besides, we wanted to get onto the plains before daybreak because we knew that the cheetahs and other predators would most likely be active.
So off we went and first checked on a pride of lions with cubs that we have seen previously. As we drove up two lionesses were walking along to the den site. As they walked they played, jumped on one another, ran around and just enjoyed the morning.
From there we moved on along the Serengeti border in search of a female cheetah with five cubs that we knew was there, and today we believed that she would be hunting as she seems to have to do so frequently with such a large family to raise!
We found the cheetah with her cubs and just as we parked she jumped up with her five cubs in tow and lo and behold!, she caught a Grant’s Gazelle close to us – not more that about thirty meters away!
We remained there watching and photographing the family interactions and feeding until it was time to start thinking of returning to the camp. Suddenly – in fact in the moment that we voiced this thought and turned to depart, one of the young subadult male cheetah cubs …
… leaped up and ran off with great determination. Then we saw that the gazelle that had been killed had a young faun, and it took seconds for the cub to catch the little one. However, having caught it, the cub had no idea what to do next. He stood there, puzzled, and proceeded to play with the faun. He played for about 15 minutes until the cheetah gave up and strolled away to rejoin his resting family.
On the way to the camp for lunch we found another male cheetah. He was hunting, but gave up fairly soon because the day was becoming increasingly warm – far too hot to hunt. We decided to return to him again when the day starts to cool.
So after lunch we headed back to the cheetah but he had moved away. Not far, however, we found another cheetah with two cubs and a kill from a few hours earlier. We hung around with them for much of the afternoon, waiting for that magical evening light and backdrops that the sunset hours provide. We captured some great images as the sun approached the horizon.
A magnificent sunset kept our cameras busy all the way bac to Wilderness Camp, and right now we are sitting around a lovely fire, under the stars, sharing anecdotes and jokes, before we adjourn for dinner, and hope that tomorrow will prove to be as amazing as today …