Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Cheetah on the early morning drive. . . . . . . .

Elegant and graceful, smaller that the other two African big cats, but by far the fastest,
the cheetah is built for speed at a short distance of about 100 yards.
With long, slim muscular legs, a small head (the black tear-stripes on the face
 thought to be for anti-glare during daytime hunting), and special pads on the feet
 for traction, this somewhat secretive and beautiful cat is found on open and 
partially open savannas.

Here the cheetah marked its territory by spraying the tree trunk prior to sitting
 down and cautiously eying the herd of grazing wildebeest.

He took his time - we sat patiently in the vehicle, happy that no other safari
 vehicles had arrived to clutter up the stunningly beautiful, peaceful and
 silent landscape.

A solitary animal with a lifespan of 10-20 years, the male will sometimes accompany
 a female for a short time after mating, but then she is left to raise her cubs, 
usually two to four, alone. 
The cheetah hunts during daylight, either early morning or early evening,
 but is also active on moonlit nights. Cheetahs do not roar, they purr, hiss, whine
 and growl - and their contact sound is similar to a bird chirp.

Between the above and below photos, the cheetah RAN. . . . . . . jumped
 on a young wildebeest and brought it to the ground.  With a point and shoot
 camera there was no way I could get that shot!
The cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds and then reach top
speed of about 75 mph as it takes down its prey.

Holding on to the neck of the wildebeest, the cat holds it down with its paws, 
biting its neck to suffocate it. They mostly prey on smaller antelopes such as
 impala and Thompson gazelles but, as proven here, also take down wildebeest,
 sometimes zebras.
The kill is eaten quickly before scavengers such as lions, leopards, hyenas, 
vultures and jackals can steal it away.

This was just one of many exciting happenings on our first morning game drive
 on the Maasai Mara. I know nature can appear as sad and raw, and some of you
 may prefer not to see the gritty side of a safari.
 But it is nature, and this is the way the animals - too many of whom are on 
the endangered list from poaching by humans - survive in the wild.
Saving these magnificent creatures is so important, and they need to 
be here in their true wild homes, living as wild creatures do, not in captivity.


  1. Mary, the Cheetah is much more beautiful than I knew. What a treat to see it hunting its prey. I could stand to watch anything, except for a baby animal being eaten, like a baby elephant. I don't know if I could not try and intervene.

  2. I never watch those programs on television where they show lions or cheetahs etc running down and killing the deer/other animals. I know it happens but I don't want to see it.

  3. I so agree with you, Mary!
    About the animals. Everything on our Earth is here for a reason, & it is not our place to desseminate their population by hunting them for trophies. The is the chain of life in nature. Not killing by man for the fun of it!
    I have long been involved with banning trophy hunting world-wide. Maybe I'll start selling "License NOT to kill."

  4. Well, I meant desimate, as you probably already know.

  5. What a magnificent, gorgeous creature! I'm a major cat lover...small AND big!

  6. And THAT territory marking is my number one complaint with cats! =D The cheetah is a marvelous creature and so attractive. I didn't know about the facial markings, but it makes perfect sense.

  7. I am in awe of these beautiful cats. Such gorgeous coats they have! As for the food chain .....When I was younger, I used to get upset at the thought of the big cats killing and eating other awesome animals out there on the plains but then I realized it was no different than me heading to the drive thru and ordering a burger or going to the steak house for dinner.

  8. Excellent photos. You are a wonderful observer.
    I eat meat. I know where food comes from.
    I saw on the news this morning that you are in for a patch of unpleasant weather. Watch those bird feeders. Take care of your garden. Be careful.

  9. Alan read you last post and was mesmerized. He loves National Geographic and I think he was feeling chuffed knowing both you and Bob and seeing your stories come 'to life'. He may want to join you on your next expedition!

    These are magnificent pictures, Mary. You are a consummate photographer.

    Would love to hear how you are doing home again and when you are planning to take off for England.

    Love to you and Bob,


  10. what a mesmerizing shots you shared dear thank you so much ,this is unseen world seen only through geographic channels .loved the feeling you had while you watched them as closely .
    amazing creatures beautifully captured

  11. Amazing shots, Mary. Did you capture these with your point and shoot?
    How interesting about the markings under the eyes. After seeing how quickly the cheetah brought down it's prey, I am finding it hard to picture it letting out a chirp sound.
    This must have been so fascinating for you to see in person. I'm going back to catch up on what I missed of your trip. It seems to me that you just left and now you're already home. Yikes! Time is flying by too fast.

    1. Yes Kim, the new Canon I bought just prior to leaving on the trip. Very pleased with my photos!

  12. What amazing photos. I never realized before that a cheetah's spots are so perfectly round--like bif polka dots - what a gloriously beautiful cat. You are right, I don't like seeing the gritty side of nature, but it is unavoidable and that's just the way it is.

  13. It is beautiful! I was imagining you sitting and waiting. How exciting!


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