This post was broadcasted from Cheetah Conservation Fund United Kingdom.
This month we’re thrilled to have had Laura Dyer’s photography and videos filling our social media feeds.
Laura Dyer is a South African born wildlife photographer, with a love for earth’s open and uninhabited places, from the plains and waterways of Africa to the ice of the Arctic. She travels to photograph as much of our natural world as she can, and shares the images she captures. All the images she takes are of wild and free-roaming animals. Check out Laura’s website and Instagram to see more of her amazing cheetah and non-cheetah photography.
Neema, a super mother of three, late evening in the Mara North Conservancy. I’ve been following her since the very first time she brought her cubs out of the den – in the middle of the covid, and so catching up with them just before they split from their mom was a lovely last goodbye. It was a rainy February this year and as the storm clouds gathered she led her cubs off to hunt. The golden sun lighting the grass, the deep storm clouds in the background and a perfect rainbow. A wonderful send off as 2 weeks later the cubs were independent and learning to survive without this super mom to watch over them.
Early morning in the Naboisho conservancy, one of the places in the Mara where cheetah seem to have very good success in raising their cubs despite the large number of lions. The low vehicle numbers and good protection from rangers (and no unscrupulous guides) means that the cheetah who are born here make it through the difficult young ages much better than in the busy main reserve. We actually drove past this huddle of cubs, within a few metres before we noticed them, so well they were camouflaged out in the open. It was a chilly day, and all the cubs were cuddled together for warmth and protection from their mom. A proper cute bundle of cats.
The cheetahs main advantage on the savanna is speed: as the fastest land animals, they may not have been blessed with strength like a lion, or with stamina like a hyena, but they can outrun the best, over a short distance. Watching a cheetah like this head off after a herd of impala is nothing short of impressive – all that explosive bunched power highlighted in slow motion as she makes her move. She was very successful this day, and her cubs enjoyed a very good dinner. Kicheche Bush Camp, Olare conservancy.
Entito and one of her cubs on the first day they emerged from the den. The youngsters finally strong enough to try and follow mom – once cheetah leave the den they stick to their moms, falling back only when she hunts but always within reach for safety and comfort. It’s a tough job being a cheetah mom! Here the last light of day touches one of the cubs as she seeks a better view of this strange new world she’s found herself in. Naboisho conservancy with Benja of Kicheche Valley Camp.
Kweli and her three cubs atop a termite mound early morning. It has been a stressful one, with lions all around and mom had taken the cubs away from danger and wanted a vantage point from which to observe the lions and make sure her cubs were safe. Nothing works quite as a well as a massive termite mound! Cheetah are much safer in the open where they can see danger approaching, and use their speed to make a good getaway. The cubs mimic mom, keeping alert and checking all over, because when you’re a little cheetah everything is a learning experience.
A gorgeous sunrise and her perfectly positioned against it. Always on the lookout for the next meal. Always alert. Always perfectly cheetah. Mara North camp with Kicheche and Saruni Masai.
Selenkei’s tiny cubs take shelter under their mom during an incredible February storm. The rainwater was pooling on the earth, and the best shelter for a few month old cubs was right under mom’s tummy. Slightly dry, but mostly warm and full of comfort against the elements. If you look closely you can see two of them sheltering. The third is tucked even further under mom, who is ever watchful.
A family portrait – like a school levers picture of Neema and her three cubs earlier this year. 2 weeks short of independence the signs of their gradual splitting were there. What a fantastic mom she was, to see all three of the cubs she emerged from the den with to independence in just 15 months long may her genes live on in the Mara, hopefully raising cubs of their own – 2 females are a great boon for the cheetah population! And Neema and her cubs last year in February just after they emerged from their den near Kicheche Bush Camp. Can you believe how much they have grown!
No matter the age of cubs, they all want and need moms reassurance and touch. I love the affection between moms and cubs, the way such a fierce and protective adult who is used to and designed for life completely alone can adapt and become so playful and loving with their cubs. It’s hard not to think they enjoy it too despite the additional work. But I don’t know! It could just be instinct too. Either way they are moments I will always cherish.
Wide eyed in the pre dawn light, two of Kulete’s cubs at dawn in the Mara. For cheetah, growing up is a daily struggle- losing kills to stronger competitors, escaping danger, always keeping alert. Its a tough world out there, and yet the cubs are full of so much playful innocence as they grow and learn. Being alert and flighty seems to be hard wired in though, and every new adventure is a learning experience that will improve their chances of survival in the long run.
Sila, her cubs and her adopted nephew who was trying to get attention, or mate with them. This was met with stern fury by the female cats. One of the very interesting sightings from February last year – the boy has now gone his own way and is independent, but for a while he was hanging out with Silas family which is unusual for these cats! But it is nature – you never what you will find and that makes it fascinating.