This month, we’re featuring the photography of Alison Mees – an amazing photographer fascinated with wildlife and also a community volunteer for CCF UK.
Since she was a child, Alison has been fascinated with wildlife, Africa and especially cheetahs. Before the pandemic hit, Alison spent 17 years living and working in Africa, running safari camps in Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya where people would come and stay. During this time, she was able to watch cheetahs from tiny cubs become adults and mothers themselves. With her love of photography, Alison took photos of their day-to-day lives, sharing information with researchers in the field.
The pandemic changed the world for everyone, and the scenario couldn’t be different for Alison. She returned to the UK where she became a community volunteer for CCF UK – sharing her knowledge of cheetahs, raising awareness and explaining about the incredible work CCF is doing.
Once we were able to start travelling after the pandemic, Alison set up her own travel company where she now leads photographic safaris to East Africa, sharing my experiences, stories, and wildlife.
Now we are going to be able to share her amazing work here. If you enjoy the photos below, you can find many more on their Instagram, here.
‘I first saw Neema in the Mara as a small cub with her mother. Over the years I have watched her hunt, roam the plains, she lost cubs and eventually succeeded in raising a family.
She spent many hours sitting on a termite mound looking out across the open plains. Cheetahs use termite mounds to give them some height to scope the plains for predators / and or prey.’
Early morning light with Selenkei in Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Mara. She was checking the tree for scent left by other cheetahs passing by. I love the early morning light in Africa, especially when it shines on those beautiful amber eyes of the cheetah.
‘Sila just had 1 male cub, a cheetah mum has to train her cub to survive by itself. This particular afternoon, mum and cub were trying to hunt gazelle. The cub was still young and inexperienced, so it sat near a bush, hidden from the prey and watched mum in the distance.’
‘The cub was watching how its mother slowly got close to the antelope, then suddenly full-speed chase to take down the gazelle. Once she caught it, she started to call the cub, who ran towards its mum. Sila was carrying the kill slowly, as she needed to rest every few steps to get her breath back. Once she got the kill close to a bush, which gave her protection from other predators, mum and cub started to eat.’
‘Nebati’s daughter had given birth to cubs and was keeping them well hidden in a den. Every couple of days she would leave the den to go hunting for herself. She was using the tall grass to keep herself well hidden from the prey.’
‘Once the cubs are 4-6 weeks old she will start to bring them out from the den. However, she needs to be careful of hyenas and lions as they will take the opportunity to kill a cub.’
‘Kweli is a special cheetah for me, whilst I was living and working in the Mara. I got to see her from 4 weeks of age until she became independent from her mother (Amani). Then to see Kweli with her own cubs, she successfully raised 3 to independence was a very proud and special moment. Cubs will groom each other to help with bonding and also get to those areas of the body where you just cannot reach yourself!’
‘In 2019 Kisaru gave birth to 6 cubs and was called a supermom. To help her raise the cubs, rangers would do regular patrols, especially if she had hunted to ensure lions & hyenas did not steal her food or try to attack a cub. She raised the cubs in the Mara conservancy area, where by there are less tourists and well monitored by rangers.’
‘Often you would see Kisaru walking across the open plains with her cubs running and jumping all over her. Cheetahs are active during the day, not like lions & leopards that tend to be more active early morning, evening and night time.’
Cheetah cubs are the cutest thing ever. These are 3 of Kisaru’s cubs, playing, chasing each other and climbing over the tree log, with mum watching at a safe distance.
If you love cheetahs and want to support our work to save them from extinction, please consider making a donation today.
Any amount you can spare will be gratefully received, and there are lots of different ways to donate. Learn more here.
Follow Alison’s Instagram to see more of their amazing photography and let them know how much you’ve enjoyed it!
10 October 2023October’s wildlife photographer of the month – Talia Hassan