A Cheetah Kill for her Cub …

Brendon Reports from the Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari:

When we first arrived at the Lodge at Masai Mara it was rather late, but we were able to fit in a quick game drive before sunset.

We headed to where there were reports of lions, and we found them close to that spot. A smallish pride of about eight lions basked in the late afternoon sun. One or two were more energetic and played around.

It started to drizzle lightly, and the afternoon became quite grey because of the overcast sky. When a lioness went to lie on a termite mound we used flash to compensate for the light. The gloomy light also helped us to get some really super moody shots of the lions in the rain.

The lions then moved into a bushy area. We followed them and saw what attracted their attention – a lone buffalo bull. The lions immediately started to stalk the buffalo. They circled around and crept close to their prey. They were meters away when they broke cover and chased the buffalo around. They chased for a fair distance, but the lions are still young and inexperienced and probably have neither the power nor the technique to take down a large animal.

But the whole experience was absolutely amazing, and although we were wet, we wouldn’t have missed one moment of that incredible encounter. We arrived back at the Lodge rather soaked, and totally delighted with our first game drive back at the reserve.

At the Lodge we heard about a cheetah with a very small cub and the next morning we decided to try and find them. While we searched we heard that she had been spotted and when we arrived, there she was with her tiny cub. The cub was in longish grass, but fairly visible, while mom checked the vicinity from the top of a termite mound.

Suddenly the cheetah spotted something, leaped down from the mound and headed off quickly. Then we saw that she was headed to a single impala mother with a baby.

The cheetah crept close to the impala and broke into a sprint. We witnessed the most amazing chase! It ended when the cat grabbed the baby impala, leaving us with very mixed feelings. It was sad for the impala, but of course the cheetah has herself and her cub to consider. We felt privileged to have witnessed the entire episode from beginning to end.

Mom dragged the impala back towards her little cub, and about half way back she started to call. The next minute the little cub jumped up and bounced over the grass to reach mom. It was the most endearing sight. The little cub is about a month old, still with a whitish furry back, and only just learning to eat meat. The two sat on a termite mound for a while before they started to feed. Unfortunately, the kill was in longish grass and we could get a very clear enough view for good photos, but it was great to watch them.

Meanwhile, a herd of elephants arrived and made their way towards the cheetahs. We practised different lighting techniques and with the dramatic sky in the background, we had plenty of scope for fabulous shots.

We heard that two lions were not too far away. As it had started to drizzle again we hoped that their manes would get wet and that they would give them a good shake, sending spray and droplets in a halo around their heads. That looks so good in photographs.

We found one of the males alone. And he did shake his mane for us, so we got exactly what we hoped for. And then we bumped into the other male lion a short distance away. He was with a female and they were mating, giving us even more images to amass.

We spent the remainder of the day with the lions. When the light faded towards sunset, we used flash to supplement the dim light and with a very dark, dramatic sky behind them, our photography could only be successful.

On the way back to the Lodge we saw four little jackal pups. They ran around, chased each other, and fell around clumsily – they are also just about four weeks old. They were so entertaining, and again the photography was outstanding.

Whew! After such a full, exciting time here, one can only imagine what the next days will bring …