Wily Cheetah Cooperative Hunting Tactics Pay Off …

Ben’s News from the Masai Mara Migration Photo Safari:

On Sunday we encountered two male lions almost as we left the camp. It was daybreak and we first found one lion that kept us very busy as he walked, rested, roared, then walked again. Being so early, as the lion roared we could see the steam of his breath with each intimidating sound. To add to this he was bathed in a little early light with a very dark background that created really fabulous, moody images. As the lion strolled on in the early light, we followed, with our very busy cameras. When he disappeared behind some bushes we followed, and there was his brother, basking in the early rays of the sun. They both fell asleep soon after the met up together.

We carried on and soon heard about five cheetah brothers. They were a distance away and on the move. We caught up with them without stopping for the many distractions on the way, and then spent most of the late morning and early afternoon with the five. They were hunting, and as they progressed along they leaped into anything raised – like logs or mounds – to get a good view and pick out possible prey.

They walked as a tight group as they patrolled the area and searched for a meal.

In the afternoon the cheetah brothers spread out to cover a wider area and that was when the hunt happened.

There were huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra around. They were constantly spooked by the cheetahs because four of the brothers made a show of strutting along, while not actually singling out any animal in particular. Occasionally one of the four trotted very obviously towards some of the animals, making sure that he was very visible.

In this way, the four brothers gradually herded large numbers of animals toward their fifth brother who lay waiting invisibly in some bushes. As the animals were herded and ran past the fifth brother he appeared as if from nowhere and grabbed a wildebeest that he pulled down in no time at all.

We didn’t hang around too long after the hunt. We started to head back to the camp and as we entered a gully we found a huge bull elephant feeding. As we drove into the gully we looked up to see him silhouetted against the beautiful sky with billowing clouds in the background. Out came our wide-angle lenses as he was that close.

We head toward the camp and found a lion close to the perimeter of the camp just at sunset. It was a very pleasing end to a really exciting day.

As we leave camp in the morning we hope that the lion will still be around, and possibly ready to hunt …