She can sense the frenzied urging from her cubs behind, as she inches forward through the high grass to the immature Grants gazelle. She has not fed for three days, her cubs also, their bellies concave with hunger. Time passes with honey-drip slowness; it is almost mid-day, this predator pilgrimage started at first light. Her eyes lock on the unwitting prey and even the avowed vegetarian next to me is urging the cheetah on to surely an easy takeaway……. the body compresses, the back legs concertina and she explodes into a pulsating sprint, closing unerringly towards her student Grant. Just about the time this antelope should be in a stranglehold the cheetah mother aborts and the prey escapes.
Trying to put your head into that of an animal is fast track to lunacy, many have addled their brains crying wolf ad nauseam as the herds gather and mince at the crossings, but this was beyond explanation. Bewildered Kichechians feel strong attachments to these persecuted felines and decided to put in some more hours.
Fast forward 20 hours, the larder is now critically empty. There is no frivolity from the cubs; they keep still as the mother approaches a Thomson’s. Impossibly far out she bolts just as the animal drops its head to graze. This was it, she’s brought her ‘A’ game, she knows where she’s going with this and after a lung bursting half kilometre, her dewclaw fuses with the gazelle’s hindquarters. Within moments the cub cavalry arrive, pretending they had helped in the same way a tightwad patron helps carry the large round of drinks to friends leaving the bar-tab to someone else. It was savage, it was breathless and it was the Mara at its brutal best. No triumphalism, no epic victory, just a mother putting food on the table. It is upsetting for some, this was their first kill, but vegetarian or not, ponder on this … the day we run short of Thomson’s gazelles, we really have screwed up the planet.
Billed as the Oscar’s of the travel industry, if you have stayed here please don’t be shy in voting now ………it will mean the world to all the team at Bush camp!
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