Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Finally, I got to see the Cheetahs!

I arrived at Rietvlei Nature Reserve just after 06:00 on 16 December 2017, and it started like most of these visits do…, seeing zebra.

The Three Stooges, uhm, zebras!
Three zebras moseying along!

I have been visiting Rietvlei Nature Reserve for many years, and several years ago, Cheetahs were reintroduced to the reserve. Since then I have been hoping that I would be able to spot them. I only once got to see them, and it was very fleeting. I am on the Rietvlei Photographers WhatsApp group, and I started receiving many messages that the cats had been spotted. I made my way over and eventually got to see them. Since that time I had been hoping that I would get to find the cats by myself. That opportunity finally presented itself.

Cheetah mom and cubs

Cheetah mom and cubs (about 80m away)
Latitude: 25° 52.983'S, Longitude: 28° 17.646'E

I was on my way to the Otter Bridge (Latitude: 25° 52.888'S, Longitude: 28° 17.722'E) when I looked to my left, and on this mound I could see what I thought was a log. But, as I moved the log kept on changing shape, which is quite logical, since I kept changing the angle at which I saw this log. But then, the log seemed to look suspiciously like it had what to my poor eyesight, looked like cheetah ears. I stopped my car and took my Sony camera with a 150-500mm Sigma lens on it to see what I was looking at, and there it was; not just one cheetah, but FOUR! I moved my car around so that the driver’s window faced them, and settled in for the long haul. I stayed in that position for two and a half hours, until they all moved to the other side of the mound and I could no longer see them. I didn’t want to stay there in case they left on the other side while I waited this side for nothing. So, I decided to move on and then return this way a little later.

On my meanderings I came across dandelions—not a code word for fancy lions—and black wildebeest.


Black Wildebeest
Black Wildebeest

On my return to the Otter Bridge, approaching from the opposite end, the cheetahs were about to cross the bridge. I stopped in one of the parking spots with a good angle to see the cheetahs, and they certainly did not disappoint. They passed within feet of my car. What an amazing experience!

Cheetah mom and cubs
Mom and cubs about to cross the Otter Bridge!

Cheetah cub
One of the cubs!

Cheetah mom and cubs
Mom and two of her cubs!

After getting this rare opportunity to be so close to them and to photograph them I decided that it was time to go home. My day had just become an amazing day!

To see more of my photographs, please visit my Flickr account!