It was in the Serengeti that we got to see plenty of cheetahs up close. There were so many that there was a point where we even asked Muba to move on because we wanted to see something else! It’s almost inconceivable, isn’t it, wanting to see something else aside from these magnificent creatures?
Most we saw were resting in the grass not far from the trail. It was almost strange that they got so used to the cars, yet not surprising since some of them have even cleverly started using the positions of the cars to quarry their prey. It was almost surreal to see the cheetahs chasing the gazelles towards the waiting cars so that they hadn’t any escape. No wonder hardly any of those we saw were on the chase. Most were resting after having had a good feed. Check out this one’s blood-stained muzzle.
You may be wondering how these beautiful cats hunt. On the face of it, it looks like a simple matter of being faster than their prey. The reality is slightly more complicated. First, they scan the area by sitting up very straight on their haunches to look for prey. This one below is obviously doing it very half-heartedly because it’s only just had a meal, it’s still got gravy dripping from its mouth!
Now when it spots a worthy target, the usual of something young, old or infirm, the cheetah gets up and starts running straight away. It doesn’t stalk the prey, and this point is important: The prey needs to know straight on that a cheetah is on it and it needs to run to escape. Here’s why the cheetah needs to choose something young, old or infirm – it runs its prey till its heart is pounding to the maximum. The prey either dies of a heart attack straightaway (if old or infirm especially), or the cheetah catches up in its burst of speed and trips its prey. The sudden fall stops the prey’s heart; if that doesn’t do it, the cheetah simply stands on the heart. And the show’s over. No nasty ambushes or gory jugular chewing. Just simply, elegantly, death by heart attack.
And here we have our cheetah very simply and elegantly having its favourite meal: rump of Thomson gazelle.
On to something even racier.
We came across this couple in the grass, having a rest between amorous bouts.
To be honest, the male looked like its ego was badly bruised as the female seemed more interested in snoozing than in his magnificent mane. Poor fella.
But appearances are indeed deceiving. Muba explained that it was probably the second or third (!) day of mating for this couple. Lions apparently spend several days procreating and on the first day, could mate up to 50 times. On subsequent days, the frequency goes down quite a bit, but remains rather regular. We waited only a short while more before they started up again… and yet again. It was mainly the male doing all the action, though the female did occasionally give a roar (of approval? ecstacy? pain? who knows) and then flopped over when the male was done. Apparently flopping over helps to increase the chances of insemination. With all that explanation done, I bring you what could possibly be the world’s least exciting sex video. Enjoy.