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New Year's day with the famous Cheetah brothers of the Linyanti


madaboutcheetah

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madaboutcheetah

It was my very first visit to Africa during the New Year's period - a nice welcome to the New Year! Normally, on New Year's eve i don't do much - wake up early on New Year's day and take in a good hard morning run with the sunrise and then celebrate New Year's day with friends and family with lunch and dinner.

 

So, a green season visit to the Kwando concession in Botswana was always going to be a nice change up.

 

New Year's eve was spent at Lagoon camp. Nothing different from their normal daily schedule, but, at dinner the Lagoon team put up a song and dance performance for about 10 minutes or so! The entire staff with the guides and trackers. The camp was managed this time by Lebo and Charles.

 

My guide Mothusi and me fixed up to meet just after 5AM for morning coffee. It was going to be my transfer day to Lebala. We set up the early meeting because, we missed the wild dogs the previous evening due to a bummed radio. They were inside the mopane and the others had a great sighting with good hyena interaction, but, with a butchered radio we had no hope.

 

Hence, we took a hand-held radio for our journey ...... no sign of the dogs, however! The area around Lagoon seems to have had heavy fires during the past dry season. The whole area seemed rejuvinated after the rains with fresh grasses and there seemed to be some good plains game.

 

As we slowly moved along towards Lebala - we stopped by a very relaxed herd of wildebeest and zebra with lots of young and stayed there for some time. It was now 10AM, and for the first time in the entire trip the sun was peeking out.

 

We were maybe 10 minutes from camp - we get a call on the radio to say that the famous two cheetah boys were located at BB spot ..... not far away! So, we raced towards the two boys. They certainly looked hungry and for a desperate meal. Finally, we find them ..... they are looking much older, but, certainly still going strong.

 

I heard from the guides at Lagoon that they seem to be losing their stranglehold on their Northern most areas of their territory due to the arrival of a young co-alition of Three.

 

Here is a pic of the two boys, on the search for lunch. Mothusi and I mutually agreed, that our lunch could wait!

 

 

 

 

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madaboutcheetah

They were clearly hungry and trying to move around trying to pick a target. Plenty of plains game around and they really had plenty of options ...... there was impala everywhere, but, they had their eyes on warthog piglets.

 

By now, a couple of the Lebala vehicles had taken a quick look and had left for brunch. Another private vehicle arrived at the scene. At the wheel, was Spencer. Due to the nature of my last minute booking (i was only scheduled to go to Kwara, originally) he was unavailable for guiding, as he was pre-booked. However, it was a pretty bizarre moment, because- with him we searched high and low for these two boys the last time around without any luck .....

 

When we realized the cheetah had their eyes fixed on their target, both vehicles stayed away: so as, to not disturb their move. Suddenly they took off, but, the lead hunter in the last moment turned it's attention towards impala instead of sticking to the original target of the piglets ...... MISSED!!!

 

Back to the drawing board for them - they walked maybe another 200 metres and started stalking Red letchwe all over again ..... once again, we gave them space. This time, it was all over in one quick stroke

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Mothusi's reaction "Here's your moment"

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madaboutcheetah

It was already Noon and now, we wanted to see the bloodfest. It was amazing to see them drag the kill to a little mound with good bush cover. It took awhile for them to settle down - still tired from all the hunting. They originally kept scanning the horizon to check for scavengers and the neighborhood Hyena clan. It would be Three hours of non-stop eating for the two boys ..... right from opening the carcass, to picking their way through the organs to discarding the stomach contents to just about eating every last bit of meat ........ Both our cars stayed put and we literally had a sublime sighting ......

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By the end of it all - it was 3 PM and went to camp for brunch. Nice brunch with guests from the other car - the conversation better than the food

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madaboutcheetah

After a relaxed lunch - went back, took a shower and got refreshed. Skipped the High Tea (how could i possibly eat so soon?) but, Spencer was at his chatty best - so kept us all entertained very nicely.

 

Went back to spend time with the cheetah boys - with full bellies. There was a relaxed herd of wildebeest right next to them and they were keen on keeping their eye on the boys.

 

I was content just staying there - just when we got a call from other trucks to say that the Selinda pride of lions had come into Kwando and were at Letchwe island. My mind was not fully into leaving - but, Mothusi suggested we try our luck. The grasses in Letchwe island were really tall and difficult to work with. But, really has a thriving warthog population at the moment. Quickly located the pride - Three Lionesses and their 8 cubs. Good to note that all cubs are doing well and if they can make it through the next 6 months or so - the pride would really be back on track towards their glory days ..... 5 of the 8 cubs are male cubs. Will be interesting to wait and watch!

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Within a few minutes, the Leading lioness found them a Big warhog and the pride was feeding

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madaboutcheetah

Here's a couple of pictures from 2007, taken in the Selinda concession when the cubs were very very little ..... i would think the dominant Co-alition of Milky Eye and his buddy are doing a great job at protecting the pride. They need to be absolute brutes for the survival of these cubs, i suppose ..... let's cross fingers!

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So, Two kills in one day - Hmmm can't think of a better script to welcome the New Year!

 

But, i'm sure it is going to be difficult to match the day on any other safari or during the rest of my normal day to day life ...... so, will consider myself fortunate with these amazing memories.

 

Within a day, all of these cats left the concession and it was the usual hit or miss green season viewing!

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and just want to say - Safaritalk is a great website and thanks to those involved for this great project!

 

Cheers

MadaboutCheetah

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Game Warden

Stunning photos Madaboutcheetah - an exciting day and what a way to see in a new year.

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Alex The Lion

Second John's appraisal........................those new Lagoon Cheetah are pretty skittish though

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks for all your comments.

 

Russell - Charles mentioned that they are getting more and more relaxed, especially if there are only two vehicles or so and he meant to radio us if there was a sighting of the three boys. Hopefully, once they are more secure in their surroundings and they get used to the vehicles, things will get better?

 

Rgds

Hari

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Atravelynn

I was wondering if we'd get a report on your most recent outing! You caught the cheetah boys in action with lovely shots. They can look so inviting and then so deadly. The light on the lions makes for outstanding pictures.

 

Two kills in one day is a tremendous rarity. From a missed dog sighting one day to kills by two cat species the next. Isn't Africa full of surprises!

 

Sorry you missed your traditional New Years Day early morning run. Maybe next year. ;)

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Only went once on safari during Christmas and New Year's Day (also Botswana). If reading your trip report I wonder why not doing this more often. Thanks for sharing this, Hari.

 

I only can repeat that the cub pictures are great.

 

Atravelynn, why can't I believe your last line...

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks again for all the kind words ..... very appreciative!

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Great story.

 

It helps to have a bit of luck, But you are talented behind the lense.

 

Well done.

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, DikDik!

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Geoff

Good stuff Hari.

 

...A great story with some excellent images attached.

 

I really enjoy that type of sightings report.

 

Geoff.

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Atravelynn

MadAboutCheetah, After some disappointing events unfolded on your previous trip regarding cheetah viewing, I bet seeing these guys was all the more satisfying. So you had a family gathering at Mala Mala, then you went on to Kwando alone?

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madaboutcheetah

Hi Lynn,

 

The family trip was to MM and Little Kwara in Botswana. I went to Lagoon/Lebala by myself before all of this!

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks, Geoff.

 

PS: Lynn - MM has lots of animals - but, i really didn't much care for their game drives. It didn't live upto any of the hype!

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Atravelynn

Anything planned for the future, on any continent? Is Sri Lank out there for you?

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madaboutcheetah

Lynn,

 

Africa - nothing planned out yet, likely September or October.

 

Sri Lanka - yes, end April or so! Yala National Park. Colombo is only a 45 minute direct flight from my town. Yala is meant to be good for leopards.

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