Photographer of the Month

February’s wildlife photographer of the month – Kunal D Shah

  • by  9 February 2023
February’s wildlife photographer of the month – Kunal D Shah

This month’s wildlife photographer of the month is Kenya-based Kunal D Shah. Kunal’s beautiful cheetah photos caught our eye on Instagram, and we just had to get in touch to ask him to do a takeover. We hope you enjoy his beautiful photography, and the fantastic stories he has to go along with them!

Mum & Cubs:  This is mama Kweli. She has 3 cubs (2 male & one female). This was an early morning shot – roughly 6:30 am.  We managed to find the cheetah family on a small ridge that overlooked the flat plains of the Mara North.
The evenings in the Mara are usually quite chilly – so you can imagine that the animals would want to warm us with first light. This was no different for these cheetahs! We spotted the whole family all huddled together. Then noticing some impala in the distance,they all sat up in attention allowing the beautiful sunrise to illuminate their fur coats from behind them!  The morning light was gorgeous and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to capture a family portrait of them! They shone!
Bumping heads: Kweli and her family. During the morning hours – the cheetah family was on the move. Following them offers some entertainment at times. As usual – the cubs were jumping, skipping, and running about… just like kids! Kweli not engaging too much in the games, just moved on to directing the family where to go. The cubs however wanted nothing of it and after playing around started chasing their mom. She played a bit with them but then just carried on her way. Two of the cubs chased after her from behind and wanted to jump on her back only to collide and bump their heads together!
Tag:  Kwelis cubs. We followed them all afternoon in the expectation that they will hunt. As they moved slowly from one area to the other, the cubs always looked for opportunities to play. This time with a wild hare! The one cub spotted the hare first and then the other two joined in the race! Much to our surprise – the hare kept jumping and ‘slipping through their fingers’ so to speak! It was just too fast for the cheetah cubs! It managed to find a burrow and hide there till the cheetahs moved on. Good practice runs for the cubs.
Chase: This is one of Kweli’s cubs. Hungry and exhausted by the heat – the young cheetah bolted and started chasing an unsuspecting mama warthog! You will rarely see an adult cheetah chase a fully grown warthog – as they are strong and aggressive if threatened. But the youngster thought he could do it and took the chance!  Nonetheless – he gave it his best shot but didn’t manage to catch it. Mama warthog got away and left the cub to go find another option for lunch!

Lunch: Kweli’s cub with its own kill. Once again – we were following the cheetah family all afternoon. That day, mama Kweli had attempted to make a kill but missed. Exhausted and hot from the chase,  she and the whole family rested under the shade of a bush until another opportunity came their way.  After some time, mama Kweli decided to walk towards the plains closer to the river as smaller animals can always be found there. The cubs soon spotted a gazelle with its baby. The mama gazelle in a panic sprinted and didn’t realize that her baby had lost her. The cheetah cubs ran after the baby gazelle and didn’t initially kill it. Rather they ran casually behind it for some time while the baby gazelle was still calling out for its mama. At one point, one cheetah cub had caught the baby gazelle at sat with it between its front paws on the ground. We were all wondering whether the cub would let it go – but no. As soon as the baby gazelle got up to leave – the cheetah cub quickly grabbed it and ended its short-lived life. A small snack for all 4 cheetahs.

Follow Kunal on Instagram or Facebook to see even more of his photography!

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