The battle for the kill continues. Will the cheetahs take home the kill? And which unexpected visitor do you think will join in for their share in the meal? Find out in our final sequence. Pictures and text by Michele Nel
Part 3: The battle of the predators
Eventually the carcass broke into two pieces and the hyena walked off with the one half. The cheetahs and jackals were left to argue over the other half.
One of the other cheetahs followed the hyena and was initially allowed to share in the carcass. But a squabble soon broke out…
The cheetahs were not giving up, but neither was the hyena.
Okay you win. Cheetah in sulk mode!
The hyena gobbled a few more mouthfuls and proceeded once again to move off with the remains of the carcass.
This time the hyena did not stop. He disappeared over the dune with all three cheetahs following a safe distance behind. In the meantime the remaining jackals were still fighting over bits and pieces.
While the jackals were busy feeding, a tawny eagle arrived on the scene.
But now it was the jackals’ turn to act as boss and the tawny did not get a look in at all. After finding a titbit or two he flew off into a nearby tree.
And sadly last to arrive were the people from the other chalet at Urikaruus. We had this sighting all to ourselves. The entire drama had lasted 40 minutes. I fell back into my seat. I was exhausted. My arm was aching but we were absolutely thrilled, exhilarated and gobsmacked. But most of all we realised how privileged we were to have witnessed this.
On our way back to Urikaruus later in the day we stopped and surveyed the crime scene – nothing. Not a jackal, not a morsel. One springbok had fed three cheetahs, one brown hyena, 15 jackals and one tawny eagle, and out of all the guests travelling along the Auob that day only four of us had been witness to it.
Reader’s note: This sighting took place in 2010.
In response to this sequence, originally published on the SANParks forum, Gus Mills of the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project writes:
“The three cheetahs that you saw are the three Marie’s Draai siblings, two boys and a girl, who left their mother in September last year (2009) and moved right down the Nossob and then far up the Auob. They are obviously doing pretty well without their mother and have been seen several times in the Auob. It won’t be long before the female moves off on her own, and the two males will probably stay as a two-male coalition for the rest of their lives, or even join up with another young male (this has just happened with two other young brothers that we know). From the literature on East African cheetahs, siblings seem to stay together for only a couple of months after leaving their mother – the Marie’s Draai group have been together for nearly a year now, and we have had another group of two sisters and two brothers that stayed together for over a year.
“We have seen several interactions with cheetahs and brown hyenas and the cheetahs have never put up much resistance, especially if it was a female with small cubs. We would like to see what happens if a brown hyena tries to take a kill away from a three-male coalition – I would imagine they might put up more of a fight than the three siblings that you saw. Yes, brown hyenas are certainly higher up on the food chain. It is amazing how the jackals so quickly appear and how fast they finish everything off.
“I am so glad you had such a wonderful sighting. This is such a special place.”
Canon 40D with a Sigma 150-500 mm lens, as well as a Canon 50D with a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS lens.
About the photographer
Michele says: “My husband and I are keen visitors to the park and have probably visited more than 25 times since 2000. We have had many amazing sightings but this must rank as one of the best. I bought my first DSLR in early 2004 and have not looked back since. Photography is no longer a hobby, it has become my passion.”