Friends – the cheetah and the hyena

Grumeti | April 2019

It was early in the morning and the birds were singing their pleasant melodies. Guests and I were watching the stunning rays of the sun as it rose over the hills to the east. Whilst enjoying this powerful moment, out on the Sasakwa Plain, I glanced to the north to see a male cheetah lying down on the grasslands. I turned to the guests and told them what I had seen but they could not believe the distance at which I had identified it. We moved in for a closer look. It appeared that this lovely male cheetah was becoming active as it yawned, stood and began to stretch.

We sat quietly in anticipation of what this incredible cat would do next. So elegant with its long, sleek tail and beautiful black tear markings running from eye to mouth. We noticed a young wildebeest walking in the distance – with no sign of its mother. The cheetah immediately became aware of the wildebeest and I advised the guests to have cameras ready as this cat was looking for a meal.

Almost instantly the cheetah began his stalk… The cheetah managed to creep to within 20 metres of the wildebeest without being noticed and simply exploded into the chase! It was no more than a few seconds later that the cheetah had brought down the young wildebeest.
My guests and I looked at each other mutually thinking how incredible it was to start a morning drive with such explosive action! After suffocating its prey the cheetah moved away for a short while in order to catch its breath and cast its eyes over the grasslands for potential threats. Quietly content the cheetah moved back to the wildebeest and began to feed. Fifteen minutes later a spotted hyena arrived on the scene!

The hyena did its very best to intimidate the male cheetah, however, the cheetah was not backing down. The cheetah tried desperately to drive the hyena off but it was clear the hyena too had no intention of giving up. After 10 minutes of watching both predators doing their best to frighten each other away from the kill, something incredible happened… Both animals settled down to feed, the cheetah one side, the hyena on the other. From start to finish, the animals fed without a murmur of discontent. I have never seen anything like this before… The cheetah and hyena had become friends – at least over a meal.


Images by Ed Ayo