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There she goes - Ndutu / TZ Fall 2020


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Sunday August 30th - Afternoon Drive

 

  • headed out back to Makao Plains
  • both the cheetah and the lioness were exactly at the same spots we had left them, not doing anything, just being lazy cats
  • spotted an AWC on our way home

 

23 Fotos Klaus Tanzania 060.JPG

Edited by ice
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Thanks for posting! Can you post a link to your YouTube video of the cheetah that you mentioned? I'd love to take a look at it!

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2 minutes ago, mtanenbaum said:

Thanks for posting! Can you post a link to your YouTube video of the cheetah that you mentioned? I'd love to take a look at it!

 

You mean the one I filmed two years ago? Sure. But beware, it's bloody and brutal. 

 

 

Edited by ice
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madaboutcheetah

@ice - Thanks for the video.  What about the stalk, chase and take down - do you have a youtube clip of that? 

 

Would love to see more video links from your recent trip!! 

 

 

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Just now, madaboutcheetah said:

@ice - Thanks for the video.  What about the stalk, chase and take down - do you have a youtube clip of that? 

 

Would love to see more video links from your recent trip!! 

 

 

 

Not of that particular kill, no; she had taken us by surprise 

 

As for the recent trip: I am currently finishing my own manuscript ( +/- 40 pages). I will then start to record the narration and edit the film (+/- 2 h long). It will thus take me a few weeks until I am ready to upload stuff from this 2020 safari. That being said, you could find half a dozen more cheetah videos on my channel, though usually without the stalking and the chases.

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madaboutcheetah

Ok - please link videos to this report later on when you've done the editing ....... Thank You!!

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3 minutes ago, madaboutcheetah said:

Ok - please link videos to this report later on when you've done the editing ....... Thank You!!

 

was planning to do just that

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Speaking about which:

 

I don't know what protocol other guides follow when a cheetah hunt seems likely. Hamisi will usually position his Landrover quite a distance away (a few hundred meters), not wanting to warn the prey nor distract the hunter. 

 

While taking (good) photos from such a distance, what with all the possibilities and support systems of today's cameras, may be possible, filming is a whole different story. During my previous trips to Ndutu I've spent quite some time with professional camera crews and let me tell you, there is a reason why their cameras easily cost 200.000 € and more. Also, to gather material for a 45 min oder 60 min documentary a team stays in the area for 3 months and out in the field 12 h each day. One producer estimated that for 60 seconds of TV material they need 60 hours in the bush. 

 

Now, my cameras cost around 500 € and their focal distance is in the region of 600 mm. Not too bad, but nowhere near what professionals use. My monitor is as tiny as any monitor on a photo camera. 

 

To sum it all up: with my equipment it is virtually impossible to film a cheetah hunt from start to finish, not the least because the animals tend to abruptly change directions when speeding with 100 km/h. Trust me, I had to learn that the hard way. I remember very well my first cheetah kill in 2014. When the hunt finally started, I was so desperate to get my gear ready, I missed it entirely. Since then, I usually try to follow hunts with my eyes (difficult enough) and leave the cameras in standby.

Edited by ice
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Monday August 31st - Morning Drive

 

  • began at Makao Plains
  • right from our first lookout stop Hamisi spotted two groups of cheetah: 3 adult males, one slightly younger than the other two, and a mother with a subadult
  • we decided to check out the coalition first, from a distance they looked restless and hungry, while the female was obviously trying to sneak around the males
  • we spent appr. 2 h with the 3, during which they tried to hunt gazelles twice, without success

During our time with the cheetah we also saw hyenas running with full speed across the Plains. What to do? Stay with the cats or follow the hyenas? Tough decision but in the end we held our position. Later we found out that the hyenas had just killed a baby eland. 

 

 

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Edited by ice
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With the coalition seemingly being bad hunters, we went back to the mother and the subadult. On our way we spotted another (lone) subadult cheetah. I thought this must be the one we had seen earlier that day, now calling for its mother whom he might have lost when she went hunting. However, Hamisi was sure it was different a different cub. Quite confusing, but that was only the start of it. 

 

For the next few hours we circulated between the coalition of 3, the lone subadult and the mum with the other subadult. In the end mum started making contact calls, too, so Hamisi must have been right: Mum had at least two subadult cubs.

 

One our way back to the lodge we found

  • another single lioness, most likely also looking for the rest of her pride (the lioness was later identified as being a member of the Big Marsh Cousins Pride)
  • another cheetah coalition, consisting of 2 males
  • two male lions, later identified as Larmasi and Loseyay

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Edited by ice
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Love the video you made of the cheetah with the kill feeding so close to your vehicle. 
Good to see it has been so successful with Youtube viewings.

 

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madaboutcheetah

@ice- are there a lot of resident gazelle in the dry months ? 
 

 

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3 minutes ago, madaboutcheetah said:

@ice- are there a lot of resident gazelle in the dry months ? 

 

depends on what you consider "a lot" - on a typical day in the Plains we would usually see two or three dozen groups, anywhere from 2-3 gazelles up to probably 50 - 60 in one herd (usually a mix of Thommies and Grants)...certainly not a lot when compared to the migration season, but just as certainly more than wildebeest and zebras

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Monday August 31st - Afternoon Drive

 

After all the animals we had seen during our morning drive

  • a coalition of 3 adult male cheetah
  • a female cheetah with a subadult male cub
  • a lonely subadult male cheetah cub
  • another coalition of 2 adult male cheetah
  • a coalition of 2 adult male lions

I was wondering which ones we should concentrate on during our (naturally much shorter) afternoon drive. However, I need not have worried: except the male lions (which we hardly ever stopped for on our way back to the Plains), all the other cats were gone - that's nature for you. It took us almost two hours to spot cheetah again - 3 cats.

  • theory #1: the coalition of 3 adults -> when we got closer we noticed, though than of one the cats was a female
  • theory #2: mum had reunited with her 2 subadults -> not possible, this female was noticeably smaller than an adult female

And while we were still discussing possible explanations, the confusion was increased when all of a sudden a third male appeared from behind a bush (we had kept our distance because these cats were obviously stalking gazelles). Since Hamisi was sure that we had seen 2 of the 3 males in the morning, our final theory #3 was: 3 brothers and 1 sister, who had just been abandoned by their mother (literally around lunch time), so our cheetah counter of the day had just risen 10! I'm too lazy to check my notes from 2014 and 2016, but if 10 individual cheetah over the course of one day was not a record for me, it comes damn close.

 

Now we all know how slim the survival rates of cheetah cubs are, especially in the Serengeti Eco System - according to my research on average only 5% of the cubs survive to become adults and have their own offspring. So if what we surmised was true, that mum, raising four cubs to adulthood, deserves a lot of respect. And she obviously taught them to hunt as well - minutes after we arrived at the scene, they had made their (first ever?) kill. It was "only" a baby gazelle, but so what? 

 

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Edited by ice
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Less than 15 minutes later the first vultures showed up and in return probably attracted a hyena. Now from my own experience I would say that hyenas in East Africa are extremely wary of vehicles. We were sure it would only close in on the carcass after we had driven off a bit. Thus we let the cheetah eat what little meat there was and only then (shame on us) increased our spacing. Sure enough the hyena came running and then left with a few bones.

 

 

 

23 Fotos Klaus Tanzania 093.JPG

 

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Edited by ice
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To get back to an earlier question I believe @madaboutcheetahasked: this particular hunt and kill I did manage to film. It was a rather long chase, +/- 30 seconds. Unfortunately the grass was very high again, when the cat wrestled the gazelle finally down they both disappeared from our view. Nevertheless this kill and its feeding frenzy will certainly be among the clips I plan to my upload to my YouTube Channel sometime later this year.

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