These young cheetah learn to hunt under the guidance of their mother. Mike Fullerton captured the trio on their morning hunt in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Gus Mills of the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project says:
The cheetah with the collar is a female called Lisette. Her four cubs are about eight months old. She is a well-known cheetah in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as she centres her activity along the Auob riverbed where she has become a springbok specialist. Most Kalahari cheetah females live mainly in the dunes where they can concentrate on hunting steenbok.
During our last visit to the Kgalagadi, my wife and I came across a cheetah kill on the road from Urikaruus to Tweerivieren. En route, just as the sun was coming up, we noticed a herd of springbok running frantically over the dunes indicating to us that there was something chasing them.
Being much more alert now after our early morning start we soon discovered a female cheetah lying on the ground with a captured springbok.
While watching her we noticed that she was anxious. After letting go of the springbok she stood up and kept looking around and calling presumably after her offspring.
We then caught sight of a young cheetah returning from the direction where we had seen the stampeding springbok and saw that it was covered in fresh blood. We assume that this cheetah made the kill and that mom watched over it while it went after the herd.
The cheetah proceeded to lie down next to its mom who at this stage was much calmer.
Shortly after this another young cheetah approached and made its way to the dead springbok. It sniffed the springbok and then rubbed its body over it before proceeding to eat.
This was a truly amazing experience for us and as you can imagine we were reluctant to leave.
Mike used a Canon EOS 7D, Canon 100-400 mm lens, Aperture 5.6, Speed 1/320, ISO 500
What is the Kgalagadi Cheetah Project?
The Kgalagadi Cheetah Project aims to identify the ecological role, behavioural adaptations, demographic parametres and conservation status of the cheetah in the Kalahari ecosystem. Of special interest is the relationship between the cheetah and its prey, especially the highly nomadic springbuck. A number of methods are being used to achieve this. Some animals have been fitted with radio collars to track their movements, spoor surverys with San Trackers are being conducted, genetic material is being analysed and a photographic identification database of cheetahs is being established.