Anton Vogt visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in early March. He saw a lot more than he had bargained for, including a cheetah and springbok chase…
I was traveling from Nossob via Kamqua to Twee Rivieren. Somewhere between Kamfersboom and Houmoed, I spotted a herd of approximately 200 springbok, a dozen or so gemsbok and a single blouwildebeest.
I realised that there must be more to this scene. The alert springbok concentrated on a point above the Auob River bed. I moved to what I hoped would be a vantage point, more or less 200m south of the herd. For 20 minutes I scouted the area, until I saw the slightest hint of a cheetah, ever so carefully glancing over the growth. I took my first photo at 13:31 and the last one at 15:53. In all this time, the cheetah would briefly peer in the antelope’s direction and the springbok would every now and then blow and snort warning calls.
At one point I thought I might have been mistaken, as the herd decided to lie down to rest. Meanwhile, I tried to convince others to stay, reminding them that “something is going to happen”.
Suddenly, as if coordinated, two male springbok got up. A couple of metres apart, they moved in the direction of the cheetah. Slowly, the rest of the herd started getting up and looking in the direction of the two senior males. In all this time, I never saw the cheetah, but I knew his exact location. The two males closely passed the point where the cheetah was – seemingly unaware of his presence.
They turned around to move back towards the herd, and after passing him, the chase started. Luckily for me, they were heading in my direction. Tired from being in ready mode for nearly two and a half hours, it was a strain to get the zoom and focus right.
Early in the chase, I could pick up that the cheetah had an alternative option to the springbok directly ahead of him. He literally ran past the one he was seemingly pursuing and caught a young springbok.
Unfortunately, by then, they had passed me and I was unable to photograph the actual catch. As can be seen, there was a lot of dust, as the chase was directed right into the dust of the fleeing herd. After catching and immobilising the young springbok, the cheetah observed the area, grabbed the springbok and moved off to the shelter of a tree close by.
The tourists with me described this experience as a once in a lifetime privilege, never to be forgotten.
From my visit I learnt to appreciate the smaller things that nature offers, most importantly the real meaning of the word ‘patience’ when in the wild. Do not be in a hurry, observe, wait and it will happen.
Anton used a Canon EOZ400D with a SIGMA 170-500mm lens. The setting used: 1/500 ISO 200.