In February, I was able to spend 10 days at Little Kwara Camp, one of Kwando Safaris lodges in the nothern Okavango Delta. On the fringes of the world’s largest inland delta, this concession is a diverse area of woodland, open floodplains and deep lagoons. Game viewing is excellent, with Kwando’s strong focus on tracking and predator viewing.
A cheetah family had been resident on the Tsum Tsum plains for around 15 months when we found them on my second morning. I had see this female 2 years previously, and shortly afterwards she lost her week old cubs. This time, she has been far more successful and proving an excellent mother.
On this particular day, we would watch the family from sunrise, through 5 unsuccessful hunts to finally catching an impala.
Before sunrise, we found the the six cheetah moving through the long grass at ‘last mbala’ on the Tsum Tsum plains.
The cubs provided plenty of entertainment for us guests, though were a clear distraction for their mother. By this point, they had already disrupted two hunts. It is common to find Cheetah climbing fallen tree like this one, it gives them a vantage point across the plains to look for prey.
The mother heading out with intent with two cubs close behind.
Tsum Tsum is classic Okavango terrain. An old floodplain, it is dotted with small islands and open grasslands, bordered by woodlands. During the high water levels of the Okavango flood, this area could well be underwater.
Having rested and moved a couple of times, the overcast and rainy conditions provided the cheetah with the perfect conditions to continue hunting through the heat of the day. Moving across the floodplains, the cheetah started to approach a herd of impala. They got more than bargained for, with a troop of baboons also spread out among the same herd.
With their excellent vision, the baboons quickly sent out an alarm call to foil the stalk. Three large male baboons took exception to the the cheetah and aggressively chased the family. One of the young males tried to show his dominance towards them, though as you can see in the two images below, was soon running to avoid them.
Over 9 hours since we first spotted these Cheetah, they were able to successfully catch an impala. Leaving the cubs hiding in the thickets, the mother moved in between a zebra herd a burst into a small open area. Falling into a small channel, the impala was an easy target. Not wanting to disturb the hunt, we were unable to get into position to get any images from the hunt.