May 2024

Cheetah on the High Ground

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Cheetah on the High Ground

May has offered us a fantastic opportunity to spend time with a particular female cheetah that has been occupying the Nyasirori high ground, south of Sabora camp.

We have had numerous sightings of this cheetah this month and her story unfolding before us has offered both guides and guests great satisfaction. Her successes, her challenges, trials and tribulations as she walks her trail through life on a little slice of high ground in the middle of the Serengeti.

She is constantly hounded by larger, more powerful predators. She must remain neutral and stay off the radar. If the lion prides and spotted hyenas in the area are aware of her presence then it can only mean trouble and she is certainly not looking for trouble. She is slender, built for speed. Unable to match the brute forces of lions and hyenas.

She is hungry, she negotiates the long grass carefully as she scans the plains ahead looking for an opportunity to approach a small herd of Thomson’s gazelle. Patiently she watches the herd, assessing, reading the lay of the land, anticipating her quarries movements.

She is close now, she has not fed for four or five days and the aching within her belly is almost overwhelming. She focusses hard, forces herself not to rush into anything too soon. This one has to count, this one must be a success.

All of a sudden, over her left shoulder, a spotted hyena gives its watchful position away. Ears just popping out above the Crotalaria thicket it had been hiding in.
Her cover has been blown, the hyenas have eyes on her, this is not good. She has no option but to walk away and she knows this all too well. If she were to go ahead with the hunt it would be in vain for as soon as she was able to bring down her prey, the hyenas would swoop in and steal it from her. Bullying her off her hard-earned efforts with brute strength.

She relieves herself of the stalk, stands up tall in the grass, stretches, turns and walks away. Her hunger aches on.

Head hanging just a little lower than usual, she makes her way towards the Nyasirori drainage line. Snaking from thicket to thicket, head low, nose working overtime. She knows she may just be lucky enough to flush a scrub hare - a welcome meal at this stage of the day. She must keep her energy levels up until she can afford to follow the Thompson’s gazelles another day. For now, she must do what she can to disappear from the hyenas’ radar.

Another day will come, another hunt will ensue, the fight for survival continues.

We were in fact fortunate on a number of occasions to see her successfully bring down prey. She fed undisturbed and fed well! Life is by no means easy for the animals out on the plains, tragedy and challenges invariably lie in wait further down the trail.

It is such a pleasure to be a part of this animal’s story, even if for just a short time. Powerful connections are made with Mother Nature and we walk away both humbled rejuvenated. We will be keeping you posted on her movements in the coming weeks.