Yesterday I went into Kruger National Park entering at Crocodile Bridge Gate. It was fairly foggy but the sun was out and was quickly burning off the haze. A couple of kilometers up the tar road just after the s25 turn off there were a few car obviously viewing something. When there are a few or more cars at one particular site it usually means that there is a sight of one of the BIG FIVE, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo or Elephant, or Cheetah or Wild Dog. Today it was a Cheetah mom with her three cubs that were near the base of a small tree a fair way off the road. Not only were they sort of far away they were on the side of the road where the observer was looking into the sun so basically for the most part you were seeing silhouettes.
I got a fairly good spot to try to observe them and take pictures. Momma Cheetah was calmly sitting next to the base of the tree while her three cubs, about two months old were attempting to jump into the small tree and climb higher into its branches. They would then jump down and run off a short ways only to return and attempt to climb the tree again. Mom sat patiently watching out for trouble while the cubs played.
After about fifteen minutes mom decided that was enough and she got up and started walking further into the bush with the little ones jumping around her and continuing to play with each other. After she moved off and was no longer visible from my vantage point I left the sight and continued my search for other animals on the soft road s28. This mom has her paws full taking care of these three very energetic cubs.
Of the few times I have been luck enough to see Cheetah in KNP most of the sightings have been near to or on the s28 road between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie. The only other sightings have been on or near the road going north from Lower Sabie H 10.
Cheetah are very elegant animals and are one of the fastest animals in Africa. They are primarily diurnal and most active in the early morning and late afternoon. During the day, especially if it’s hot, they prefer to rest on an elevated position so that they can keep and eye out for danger. They are more solitary that other social animals. The males can form strong bachelor groups but the females remain solitary except when mating or rearing their young. The prefer open plains, savanna woodlands and semi desert locations. Lions and leopards are predators of cheetahs and lions and hyaena will readily chase cheetah from their kill.
Cheetah have one to six in a litter, but usually two to four. The mother carefully hides them while she is hunting but they often fall victims of larger prey animals. Their food source is small to medium sized antelopes and other small animals like hares and small warthogs.
It is always an exciting privilege to see Cheetah in KNP as they are fairly secretive, to see one with babies is a rare privilege indeed.