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The life of famous cheetahs (Porini Mara and Porini Lion camps)


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This is such a joy to read and your photo sequences allow me to feel, at least for the moment like I'm actually there.


I felt Fig's pain sitting in that tree - such expression in his face!


Your capture of the cheetah in flight is amazing!!


Did you request your own vehicle or just got lucky as has happened to me several times when travelling solo.

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Wow, outstanding! :)

Thank you :)!



Did you request your own vehicle or just got lucky as has happened to me several times when travelling solo.

Your comment is greatly appreciated :). The feedback always motivates me.

I always take a private vehicle. I am counting every minute on safari and I have quite well determined preferences so it is easier for me to not even try to share a vehicle :)


You should work for the Mara Cheetah Project!

I wish! Or even better, I would want to work for Cheetah For Ever project :). I like the idea of trying to increase the survival rate for cheetah cubs (especially to decrease human impact)

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@@bettel...the cheetah photos especially are just fabulous!

Lol, thank you, I hope you will not change your mind after next couple installments :)



Simpy amazing. You must have been, what, 20 m away from the cubs??

What cubs :): cheetah or lion? Lion cubs were much closer (I would say 5-6 meters), cheetah cubs were moving a LOT. Sometimes there were literally couple meters from vehicle, sometimes much further :)



Day 7 (continuation).


We were still following Imani. And she was still failing: sometimes because of her cubs, sometimes it just was not a good disposition right from the beginning. We were acquiring a cheetah following professional deformation: all three of us were constantly scanning surroundings to find the best victim. We were also evaluating each impala and each Thompson gazelle in terms of chances for a successful hunt :). That became so bad at the end that we were doing it even if there was no cheetah around :). “Look there is a nice single male tommi over there, and no topis! Or wait, we are sitting with lions, it does not matter”.


One time we could see a pretty good target for Imani but there were cow herds nearby. Meshack told that she would not try… so he went to herders and asked them to move cows little bit so that our cheetah could hunt. Well, it helped and it did not. Imani decided to hunt (after cows were moved) but she failed. We did everything we could.


Couple times Imani had to stop her hunt(s) because of other predators. First time she could hear antelopes alarming at Olkuroto boys, the second time there were too many hyenas around.


When we heard alarm calls we decided to check why our lions were not sleeping. They were browsing bushes with the great enthusiasm:






There was also a lot of hyenas around, so Meshack guessed that lions were thinking that hyenas were on a carcass and were hoping to claim it. The reality was disappointing for lions as it was just a group of loud mating hyenas. We went back to cheetahs.


In the afternoon Imani decided to leave plains (I think she did not like all this predator activity around) and moved to a quite bushy area. She looked as if she was aiming for Naboisho. We had no other choice but to follow her. Cubs were entertaining themselves:






Bushes did not bring the success either. There were a few more tries but no luck. It was fascinating to watch how hard cheetahs had to work sometimes. One time hunting impalas Imani almost smashed herself against a tree while an impala just jumped over it. A lot of hard work! Another time there was an impala with broken leg, but Imani did not use her chance, she even did not try. Meshack says that unlike hyenas/lions cheetahs do not target sick animals.


One time (I think it was after the hunt) we lost Imani. It was pretty easy to do it in those bushes. Well, John and Meshack were really dedicated. They actually climbed a roof (to have better angle) and found cheetahs :).





You can see how nicely she recovered after meeting with lions:






In any case the afternoon was quiet for photo opportunities (but there were a lot of emotions and cheering, as Imani was making a try after a try) and closer to the evening we already did not expect anything, we just wanted to make sure that we knew where cheetahs rested for the night. Patience was paid for as those cubs gave us a special tree climbing show:








And my personal reward was to have these ones:





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Wonderful action sequence and thenthe cubs put on a real show for you. Your patience and dedication is rewarded.

(I am not bored yet :) )

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You simply can't argue with those cheetah pictures. Marvelous!

@@PT123 has already pointed out the one I would call my favorite.

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Staying with one target did pays off in spectacular sightings and amazing photos!

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@@TonyQ, @@Marks, @@xelas, thank you! There is no way I would be able to complain about this safari. Every day we saw something really nice (at least based on my scale :) ). I learnt a lot about cheetahs and it was very personal as we spent a lot of time with same animals. You are getting involved :). Much more emotions when you cheer for the hunt after you witnessed multiple fails :)




Day 8


I promise, I swear, the next batch will not be only about cheetahs, and the batch after will have a lot of leopard pictures :).


The morning we started with Imani. Well, we tried to start the morning with Imani, but she left before we arrived. Meshack was saying that this day she would really push hard for the kill as she was getting hungrier and hungrier. Couple other cars (from Kicheche) were also looking for her so we had a good company but it did not quite help because of the bushy area.


After some driving around, Meshack chose a direction, he thought Imani had gone, drove for 5-10 minutes, stopped, took his binocular and climbed the roof. I was not too optimistic (too many guesses, too dense bush) so I was extremely surprised when in 10 minutes Meshack said “I can see them!”. We were driving for a few minutes before we actually got to them, so I could only imagine how Meshack was able to notice them. I told him that other guides should pay him as this cheetah would not have been found without him.


Imani was deciding where to go. There were not too many antelopes around.




When she walked, we noticed that she was limping. Not too bad, but she had a big thorn in her right shoulder (probably after the chase through bushes the day before).


At some point Imani noticed a single impala, but it was far and the area was very rocky and not suitable for a good chase so at the end she decided not to go that way, but she looked pretty excited at the beginning:




Cubs rested well during the night and were ready to ruin couple more hunts :)








We spent the rest of the morning with cheetahs (did anybody have doubts?). They were switching between games, hunts and rest time.




















When it became hot, they settled for some time and we used this to switch cars. On our way to cheetahs we got into a hole. It was a big hole, I think I jumped meter high :) and almost got acquainted with the roof. And something got broken (don’t even ask me what it was), thanks god, it was not my spine :). The vehicle was still functioning but it was better to fix it. The team arrived late morning, gave us another car, took ours and went a few hundred meters away to fix the problem (not to disturb cheetahs). They were done around lunch time, so we got our car back and it was good timing as Imani started to get impatient. We had our lunch watching Imani through binoculars; she was sitting up, looking around, lying back and then sitting up again. She was clearly planning to move. Soon after lunch she made a good try. It was close, but it did not work:









To be continued…

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Bettel - don't mean to hijack your report but I just returned from 4 nights at the Olare Mara Kempinski in the OMC - We managed 14 cheetahs, these being Imani and cubs, Rani and cubs, Malaika and cubs and Nora and cubs. And last but not least we found Amani - she was acting very strangely and led us to Moniko Hill which we could not climb in the car. We are all sure she has little cubs hidden in there.


Your guide Meshak is a good friend of mine - he was with us for most of the sightings.

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@@loafer247, no hijacking, i would be glad to hear news about Mara cheetahs :). Meshack wrote to me that he had a sighting of a single cheetah, he thinks it was Amani.

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~ @@bettel


Is it exaggeration to describe oneself as having ‘swooned’ over a trip report?

Perhaps. Yet strong words are needed to express my joy in reading about your travels with Meshack at Porini Lion.

As ever, you spoil us with unimaginably lovely cheetah images, while making clear which cheetah mothers we're seeing.

Your approach to safaris is exemplary, showing one way to achieve exceptionally productive game drives.

Thank you so much for the careful effort to select and prepare these images, which are of the highest value.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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Oh, my. Fantastic cheetah photos all around, but the silhouette of the tree-climbing one at sunset is just exceptional. Love that!

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Absolutely fantastic photos and a joy to read your report. The Mara is delivering. Incredible a cheetah safari guaranteed...

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Thank you SO much, @@Tom Kellie! All your posts are very special and individual!



Oh, my. Fantastic cheetah photos all around, but the silhouette of the tree-climbing one at sunset is just exceptional. Love that!

It is one of my most favorable photos for the whole trip :)



Absolutely fantastic photos and a joy to read your report. The Mara is delivering. Incredible a cheetah safari guaranteed...

Thank you, yes, Mara for cheetahs is a paradise. I would only wish more cheetahs to move to conservancies :)

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Day 8 (continuation)


By 3-4 pm we (at least I) were almost ready to hunt for Imani. They say cheetahs have 40% success rate in their hunts. I guess, Imani was having two pretty unlucky days (well, I am pretty sure rate does not take cubs into consideration :) ). I was just calming myself saying that if Imani had managed to raise cubs up to that day, she was not going to starve to death while I was there :). You are probably laughing but when you spend that much time with same animals you start to really feel for them. I was feeling sorry for Imani :). Well, finally Imani did it:










*tough safari goers should skip the next paragraph*


I was in the middle of my happy moment when Meshack said “Hyena!”. “No! No! No!” – I wailed. This was beyond good and evil! This was complete injustice! This was breaking my belief in fairness! Two days Imani was working hard to get this meal for her cubs, and she was still suffocating it when a hyena arrived. And even if this hyena was not stubborn enough to get it, it would call others. So it was all my fault (in case if somebody from Porini management reads it): I asked Meshack to try to chase hyena away. I think he was feeling the same way or maybe he was afraid that otherwise we would have to spend another day following Imani through bushes or maybe he was afraid that I would jump out of the car, in any case we first “pushed” hyena away with the car and when we got further from cheetahs (not to disturb them) John and Meshack left a vehicle for a moment, the hyena ran away.


We agreed that if the hyena returned after Imani’s family ate half of the prize we would allow things to happen. Thanks God, hyena did not see the kill (otherwise we would not be able to chase it) and never got back.


Imani was trying to catch her breath, cubs were eating:




We were standing guard :). After having some rest Imani moved the kill to bushes so it became more protected:








After some time other cars started to arrive and we left. We decided to try to find Fig as we knew that she made a kill in bushes in the morning. Well, you know I have my way of asking for sightings, normally I concentrate on what I want to see and I ask for it, and I ask for it, and I ask for it, and I see it (knock on wood). But following Imani, I gave myself a promise that if Imani got her meal, I would not be asking for anything till the end of my safari. I was not surprised when we did not find Fig :)… but 10 minutes after we left Meshack got a message that Fig came out of bushes so we went back :).


/I have to apologize: taking into account that the next batch will be all about leopards and taking into account that the quality of these photos is poor as it was getting dark, I should not have posted them. But I can’t control myself :). You can just scroll them/


We came just in time to see Fig moving the rest of the carcass from bushes to a tree:
















Her 9-10 month old male cub was with her:




We were lucky. We were the forth car so we had to park where there was a space, but the cub chose our car to play around. He was way too curious about us, almost to the level of discomfort. There was a moment when he sat right in front of me (20 centimeters away from the vehicle) and was looking straight into my eyes. He was trying to see what was inside the car as if he was thinking to jump in (Meshack told that he would not). And I was not afraid of the cub, I was just thinking that if the cub got scared, his mom would arrive, and a mad leopard was not something I would want to deal with :). The cub investigated our vehicle from all possible angles:








After some time he decided that we were not that interesting so he moved to “hunt” in high grass:






What can be better than to spend evening with leopards :)?

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Too bad behaviour from both the client and the guides to chase away other predators and not letting nature take its course.


I don't think you should judge a guide for this as it was not his suggestion at all. But you can judge me, I can take it :). And I feel no guilt. I would do it again if I can. I was never saying that I am perfect. Technically you can say that we disturb cheetahs whole day(s) just being with them, no matter how accurate you try to be, it still impacts animals. Then you can think how often Mara cheetahs lose their hunts because of people, during my safari I witnessed it quite a few times (not because of us). It is an arguable behavior we can even make a new topic on this. But there are a lot other arguable practices: vet interference, Cheetah for Ever project, etc. You can support them or not.


IMO animals already have to deal with a lot of human interference. Cheetahs probably have it more than other predators:


1) they have huge ranges that parks are not able to accommodate fully it means that they have to deal with humans and dogs (dogs kill cheetahs cubs a lot)

2) grazing practice makes periods of short grass very short but cheetahs need long grass to raise their small cubs safely

3) cheetahs are very popular with tourists because it is a cat that is active during the day. So cheetahs are suffering blocked view, ruined hunts and even cubs that are driven over.


When we can eliminate all these factors and stop impacting cheetahs in a bad way, we will have to stop impacting cheetahs in a good way too.



One thing I can say for sure, Porini guides are very professional and they respect animals.


I probably should not mention it, however I write this report mostly for myself. As I like to read my reports in a few months (years) and re-feel them. And for me it was a very emotional moment: two full days of hard work on Imani's side, a lot of fails, a lot of chases, thorn in a shoulder and limp. I wanted to remember it.

Edited by bettel
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Fantastic leopard action you've captured and those cheetah photos are exceptional. What an amazing safari.

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@@bettel Fabulous photos. I love ALL the cheetah photos, keep them coming. The sequence of Fig stuck in the tree is great. And lions and hyenas too!

This report is an absolute joy to read. Thank you.

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@@bettel I'm totally with you on this one. Having read too many reports of hunts getting ruined by cars, I'm quite happy to hear of a cheetah's meal being saved by human intervention. The idea of a pure wilderness experience, observing but not interfering in any way, is a wonderful ideal but I think unrealistic, particularly when human activity is pushing cheetahs and many other species to extinction.


Obviously you need a highly experienced guide to make sure no damage is done - I'd hate to think of self-drivers or less skilled guides trying to do something like this. Perhaps that's the strongest argument against intervention.


And besides, just to ruin my whole argument, I like cheetahs way more than hyenas :)

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@@twaffle, @@Pennyanne, thank you very much!!!


Thank you, @@jeffb, for your support :)!


Day 9.


That was one of the most memorable mornings for me so there will be a lot of pictures. I will split them into a few batches :).


We decided to try to find Fig again. I mean she did not have a lot of leftovers on the tree, but maybe leopards were still there. When we arrived it was still quite dark. There were no leopards on a tree, there were no leopards in grass nearby, there were no leopards... wait a minute, here they are!




The cub was little bored and he was plotting something :)




Fig was doing normal cat's morning routine: to yawn, to stretch, to scratch furniture :) (if you don't have furniture, scratch whatever you can :) )




Then they both paused for a few minutes...




... and the show began. Fig was lying and pretending that she could not see anything and she had no interest in anything:




And the cub was trying to get her :)








And then back to the original disposition:




"I am sexy and I know it"




Mom, I caught you!




Kid, this is not what I taught you:




I showed you a few times! Grab by the throat!




Kids! You always have to repeat!




I got it, mom, I will try it again /it is not sharp at all, but it is quite funny :)/:



Edited by bettel
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Oh, these leopard pictures of Fig and her cub are priceless!

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 There is plenty of support for the view that wildlife should have no intervention by human hand, but conversely there are many qualified researchers and professional guides who support modified intervention with endangered species. Unfortunately, we would be naive in this day and age to think that wildlife can continue on in a completely natural way.

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