"A split second error of A novice young gazelle and the capitalising moment of an experienced cheetah mom".
A Cheetah mom with 6 cubs has a massive responsibility when it comes to feeding and taking care of her litter. This individual was known to be a smart hunter (as the folks who knew her described) and we were lucky as she did demonstrate that in front of our vehicle that day.
Post spending almost an hour and half with her and her little fur balls, we saw that she was scanning the horizon for prey and spotted a group of gazelles. Our driver was quick to notice her need and positioned us directly opposite to her (far away) hoping the action would unfold in the intended area. Time passed and it didn’t look like there was an opportunity and we decided to move a bit to get a better view and composition of the family. Least we knew there was a gazelle about to commit a suicide.
“A pursuit that will clearly end one sided”
“Penultimate moment when the cheetah was just an arm's reach from the prey”
Just as we started our vehicle and move a bit to the right a young gazelle came flying right between us and the cheetah. I just couldn’t believe when I saw the cheetah take off at almost the same instant I spotted the gazelle. To add to the adrenaline my guide shouted in his characteristic phrase ‘What are you doing, Take the shot’ and he just didn’t leave it there – he tweaked the position to try and make us parallel to the plane where the action was about to unfold - talk about experience!
“Got you :(”
The gazelle noticed the cheetah and attempted a 180 turn from right to left and make no mistake the cheetah was as agile if not more in making the same turn. The determined pursuit coupled with the fact that the prey was in high probability of access she relentlessly followed her in every turn and matched her speed. It was a few controlled seconds of aggression that followed and a final a tap from the cheetah on the hind legs of the gazelle got her reeling to the ground. Post that, a few futile struggles to get up were easily managed and the cheetah mom went for the throat.
“Sorry whats your last wish!”
Post a few twitching struggles the gazelle was a ready to serve meal.
“The Cheetah is now in total control to de-life the prey!”
The cheetah took a while to carry the meal towards a tree, putting it down every 2 minutes and adjusting her hold which also slowly opened up the prey at various points of its body. What was cute, was the 6 cubs waiting eagerly for mom’s call and movements to join here. We could see that being so young they were still in control by the mom and could only approach here on her call. Finally the family feasted. A small kill but good enough for the young ones – then I came to know it was their second meal in that day. The mom had just made a kill 4 hours back in the morning. – Once again resonates why she was labeled the ‘smart hunter’.