A Bitter-sweet Cheetah sighting at Footsteps
It was a refreshingly cool and cloudy morning at Footsteps when Opie and his guests set out on the game viewer to track lions they heard roaring close to camp in the night! Unexpectedly as it goes on a game drive, he was scanning the open grassland area for lions when he saw a cheetah in the distance, read below for his account:
Although Cheetah occur at much lower densities in comparison to other predators in the Okavango Delta, the open grassland type terrain at Footsteps is a very suitable environment for these cats. There were whispers of excitement behind me as I accelerated slightly on the dirt track before slowing down as we turned off road.
We approached the animal slowly and as I got closer I noticed that it was the resident female we see from time to time at Footsteps and, even better, she had a cub that was walking in the grass just next to her. A magical sight it was however there was a feeling of quiet tension radiating from the female as she sat scanning the area in a highly alert state – her ears were pricked up and following the slightest sound in the bush.
I had given them enough space to begin with so we moved closer, it was then that I noticed the remains of her other cub scattered in the grass behind her and from the tracks I could tell that Wild Dogs had killed the cub. The mood immediately changed as we realised that this female was still distressed by the incident and loss of her cub. It makes one realise that the fragile and complex balance of nature occurs too at the top of the food chain and this female had no chance protecting her cubs from a pack of wild dog.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as the second cub is still doing very well and the pair were seen recently feeding on an impala. As the cub continues to grow and learn she will become more cautious and aware of the threats within her territory!
Images by Rory Loader, Agent from Unearth Experience who recently visited Footsteps.