Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Cheetah - Photo Essay.

Cheetahs are getting scarcer within the Kruger National Park. Today, it is estimated that only around 200 remain. One of the main reasons seems to be the increasing population of Lions & the corresponding population increase in Spotted Hyenas. Certainly, since I have been visiting the park both these species are much easier to see today, than in the 1980's. Both species are major predators of Cheetah kills. They chase off Cheetahs before they can feed on the carcass. 

I was therefore very pleased to find a Cheetah sat on an old termite mound, just south of Afsaal on the main road. At first it was in quite thick woodland & it kept calling. It then crossed the road & joined two more Cheetahs. It is quite common for Cheetahs to form coalitions these days, in order to hunt more successfully & also have a chance of driving other predators off their kills. 

Brothers in Arms!

I watched these three male Cheetahs for around 20 minutes & was very privileged to have a really close encounter with them. It is not often this happens, usually they are disturbed by other vehicles & quickly melt away into the trees. 
It is worth mentioning that in KNP Cheetahs are found in woodland, as well as in savannas. There is a misconception brought about by programes like Big Cat Diary that Cheetahs are only found in grasslands. In reality, they are found in a variety of habitats including very open desert. 

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