Witnessing a nail-biting cheetah kill in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is for some a once in a lifetime experience. Capturing the sighting on camera to be able to share it with astonished loved ones back home and being the only onlookers experiencing the drama, is luck at its best.
Dave and Louise Armstrong from Lancashire in the United Kingdom recently spent a few days in the Kgalagadi. Just when they thought bird sightings were the only things left, a dust cloud revealed an astonishing sequence of events. Dave writes:
“We’d been out since dawn and had seen very little. Fortunately a few nice bird sightings had kept us going but, after three hours, there were murmurings from the ladies about us returning to camp. Another half hour was agreed upon and, if nothing, we’d stop for tea then head back to Twee Rivieren.
“The track followed a wide bend in the dry riverbed with high dunes rising up on both sides.The half hour was almost up and we were planning to stop for tea under the shade of a distant tree. We hadn’t the slightest inkling of what was about to unfold before our eyes.
“A sudden blur of movement to our right gave way to a cloud of dust and a stampede of 200+ springbok. Literally metres behind them was a pair of cheetahs. The chase was on. The herd split, half chased by one cheetah, headed up the riverbed away from us, whilst the other half turned left, parallel to our vehicle with cheetah number two in pursuit.
“It was all over in a flash. The kill was made about 50 metres away and as the cheetah still had the springbok by the throat, a third cheetah strolled just metres in front of us to join its sibling on the kill. Twenty-five minutes and a couple of tug-o’-wars later all that remained of the springbok was its skin and skull, which one of them carried as they ambled to sibling number three who was yet to eat.
“It was one of the most memorable encounters in all our 25 years of travelling in Africa. And ours was the only vehicle!”
Did you know?
According to the writer of Wild Ways, Peter Apps, cheetahs are active during the day. “Especially in the cool of the early mornings and evenings, because they hunt by sight and because their competitors, lions and spotted hyenas, are active during dark. They also hunt by the light of the full moon, and male cheetahs patrol their home ranges for long periods on moonlit nights.”
Share your sightings
Want your wildlife sightings to be featured in one of Wild’s e-newsletters? Email your pictures to [email protected] and your images might get published!