An extraordinarily rare opportunity was mine the day I saw two Cheetah cubs and their mother grazing, then drinking from the watering hole just yards from my Land Rover. In the distance a herd of Impala and Wildebeest were feeding on a flat plane.
The mother Cheetah began stalking the herd for an hour. I waited patiently in the vehicle, watching as the feeding frenzy was about to begin. Finally, one of the cubs and the mother made their move, killing one of the Impalas. It was a rare sight that my guide had only seen eight times in his 15 years of leading groups. I dozed off a little while waiting for the Cheetas to make their move. It was about 100 degrees. But all of a sudden I was awakened by the buzzing birds calling out warnings to the Impala.
Slowly the mother approached and waited. Seemingly impatient, her two-year-old cub circled around the Impalas and lurched at one of them. He was joined by his mom and they gripped the animal between their teeth, crushing and choking it. The other cub joined them and began eating the innards of the still-living Impala. It was awful, but shocking and amazing to watch. The animal finally died and they chewed away for about 10 minutes when suddenly out of the bush came a Hyena, the “scavenger” of the animal kingdom. He walked directly to the carcass, and to my amazement, the Cheetahs stepped back and allowed him to take it away!
The Hyena slowly stalked off with the leftover carcass hanging from its mouth. It disappeared into the bush, leaving the mother Cheetah panting and the cubs relaxing as their mom cleaned their mouths with her tongue.
In a few minutes, three more Hyenas appeared sniffing around where the carcass had been. One found a bone. The others wandered away, slowly disappearing from eyesight. We watched the Cheetahs for a while longer and then proceeded back to our lodge over bumpy dirt roads. I was stunned! This is what a safari is all about!
The Cheetahs attack the antelope after racing after the herd
The Cheetahs backed off as the Hyena made off with the leftover carcass