Written by: The Mara Cheetah Project
Whilst the Mara ecosystem has a relatively high density of cheetahs, their effective camouflage and their often solitary nature doesn’t make them an easy find. However, with the help of reports by guides we are often lucky enough to find these beautiful creatures.
As was the case the day that we found Narasha, a cheetah mum with two almost independent cubs walking across the plains of Olare Motorogi Conservancy. And they were on the hunt! Feeding two big cubs is a full time job for mum, Narasha. At least the cubs are now of an age where they can actually help mum with a hunt rather than interrupting her hunts in their playfulness.
Watching cheetahs hunt is always an intense and magical moment. They are patient creatures, watching a herd of Thomson gazelles or impalas until they find their target meal. Once they find a suitable individual they go into stealth mode – head down, eyes locked, body gliding through the shimmering grass. The moment is tense, waiting to see what is going to happen next. Suddenly there is an explosion of dust and the three of them burst into a full sprint, muscles rippling, all four feet of the ground and tail swinging as they twist and turn after their quarry.
Baby Thomson gazelles are surprisingly fast but in this instance the female cub was faster. Strangely, rather than killing it she let the little thommy get away. The thommy made a break for it and ran to the closest cover, a Porini Gamewatchers vehicle. Just out of reach, the two cubs tried every which way to get to it, first from the side, then from the back and eventually from the front of the vehicle. Unfortunately for the thommy there was no way out of this death trap and the two cubs eventually got their breakfast.
A couple of days later we found the trio on the hunt again, they had flushed another herd of Thomson gazelles and in all the dust and chaos managed to kill four baby thommies in the space of 30 minutes! Unbelievable! Narasha and her female cub had each gotten a thommy to themselves whilst the male cub was still going after his share. Cat instinct kicked in and with a thommy in her mouth the female cub joined her brother in the chase and successfully took down thommy number three. Whilst they were munching away at their dinner, the female cub suddenly sat up. In the corner of her eye she had seen a lone thommy, left behind by the herd. Without giving it a second thought she went after it – full speed. And yes, another thommy for dinner! Not a bad days catch!
The cubs are now old and experienced enough to fend for themselves and will probably leave their mum in the next couple of months. The Mara Cheetah Project will keep monitoring them to see where the two young adults will move to and we eagerly anticipate the birth of Narasha’s next litter.
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