Shaun Atkinson, one of the guides from Umkumbe Safari Lodge, is certainly a good luck charm when it comes to spotting big cats. Come to think of it, most of the guides at Umkumbe enjoy prolific cat sightings. A combination of bushveld experience and knowledge of animal behaviour – and good luck – stands them in good stead when it comes to finding the cats of the Sabi Sand. The reserve is rife with leopard activity at the moment, and even the hefty lions are also showing off their tawny bodies and inimitable prowess.
It’s Spring time, which means the reserve is abuzz with activity from vulnerable young ungulates exploring their new environment. The predators gleam with excitement while they wait in the wings for the right time to select an item from the menu. Just recently, 2 cheetah took advantage of the abundant prey sources on offer and selected a sizeable meal from nature’s menu.
The visibility of the cats was 100%, which meant Shaun was able to photograph the sleek speedsters in natural light. Cheetah have a penchant for smaller prey – they simply don’t have the strength to battle it out with feisty prey. They will stalk and approach quarry that is relatively easy to take down. Remember, a cheetah’s modus operandi is speed and not strength. Strength and power are left up to their cat counterparts. This is also part of the reason these cats hunt during daylight hours – to eliminate competition and scuffles with scavengers. Cheetah tend to choose the cooler time of day to hunt – dawn and dusk – because there’s enough light and temperatures haven’t soared through the roof.
These slender cats also tend to hunt as a coalition, which is exactly what we saw happening with these two local felines at Umkumbe Safari Lodge. Game drives with the team from Umkumbe are always successful, and this was no exception. Guides and guests were treated to incredible sightings of a cheetah coalition tucking into a little steenbok kill.