November’s Wildlife Photographer of the Month – Pareet Shah
- by Hannah Mulvany 15 November 2022
Pareet is a photographer from Kenya and has been photographing wildlife for over 25 years. He started his hobby at the age of 12 when he used to frequent national Parks with his family during school holidays. He especially likes to create art which showcases animal behaviour combined with the play of light and shadow. He also loves to showcase the beauty of the animal kingdom through his imagery and hopes that it will bring awareness to the importance of saving this planet. See more of Pareet’s beautiful photography on his website and Instagram.
What we see as a really cute moment between the cub and the mum is actually partially training for the cub on how to strangle and kill prey. We have seen this behaviour so many times between mother and cubs. This particular morning was blessed with golden light shining on both their faces!
Even though this may first appear as two cute cheetah cubs playing around, they are actually practising life skills – we watched them under the close supervision of their mother whilst they pounced on each other, tripped each other and mock-strangled each other. All useful lessons for life when they separate from their mother!
A cute cheetah cub has climbed up a tree for a better vantage point. Adult cheetahs frequently do this. Their eyesight is superb so to utilise this advantage to it’s maximum, they often look for higher ground like trees, or termite mounds. It is funny watching the cubs do this as they are often not as proficient as their parents in climbing trees!
A beautiful kill
I remember this moment so clearly. We were watching a cheetah stalk her prey through a thunderstorm utilising the rain to her advantage. Just as she had made the kill, the clouds behind us made way for the glorious late afternoon sun resulting in a perfect rainbow. We positioned our car in such a way that the cheetah walked across the frame with the rainbow in the background!
A tale of two eyes
An extremely difficult scene to photograph as a cheetah takes down a wildebeest but you have to remember that this is nature, and in order for one to live, another must die.
This cheetah supermum in the Maasai Mara is called Siligi and a couple of years ago, she had 7 cubs! Unfortunately, she lost all of them to various prey such as hyena and lions. Cheetah cubs have a very low rate of making it into adulthood.
The final stretch
It is unusual to see cheetahs take down big prey like Topi. However in the Maasai Mara, there existed a coalition of 5 cheetahs called the Tano Bora. Fearless hunters, they were taking down prey much bigger than normal. It was poetry in motion watching them hunt so tactically and strategically. Each cheetah had his role in the stalk, hunt and final take-down. Here you can see the cheetah closest to the camera biting the shoulder of the topi and is just about to raise his paws to bring down the head of the topi. A few months ago, one of the remaining three of the Tano Bora was killed by cattle herders leaving only 2 cheetahs remaining from this successful coalition.
Cheetahs mark their territory by defecating or spraying bushes or trees with their urine. They do this as a form of communication between other cheetahs and also to identify prey. We were watching this cheetah very early in the morning as the sun rose, and I wanted to get a photo which exemplified this behaviour so the best angle was where the urine would be backlit by the sun!
We hope you enjoyed the beautiful photography of Pareet Shah. Join us next month for another wildlife photographer takeover!
Aren’t cheetahs amazing? Did you know they’re Africa’s most endangered big cat? We’re dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild, and any donations you can make will help us do that. Please donate here.
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