Cheetah Cubs (Updated): Precious at 2.5 Weeks (New)
Shot on Location:
Ndutu Safari Lodge, Tanzania, February/March 2019 with the 1Dx II and 500mm f/4 II with a 1.4x III; and,1Dx with the100-400 IS II.
This was my most exciting cheetah sighting in 15 years because the 2.5 week old cheetah cubs were so little, yet had so much personality.
At first, all I could see was small patches of fur using a monocular. They were hidden deep in the thicket but I was still thrilled to see the 3 tiny cubs at about a week old.
The next day, Mom had already moved them to a new den. It took another 8 days to finally find them - in the woodlands closest to the western Serengeti border - further away from the lions. After waiting for hours, we finally saw Mom move one cub across the opening inside the den followed by two precious wobbling cubs. We stayed until the dark sky opened up and started raining hard. We got back to camp right before a monsoon-like storm. I worried about the cubs all night because Mom had already left to go hunting. I was concerned that their den would get flooded and envisioned the vulnerable cubs shivering in the rain and cold, just like in the movie African Cats.
The next morning, we raced back to the den before sunrise and were ecstatic to see that Mom had returned. On top of that, there were 5 furballs, not 3. Heart be still. The cubs nursed and slept. With the cubs well fed and tired, Mom left to go hunting again. The cubs snuggled together to stay warm but even then, a few shivered. The smallest cub with the big bright eyes was adorable. He was the most alert - always paying attention to new sounds and smells - and he always seemed to be at the bottom of the pile.
The young cubs couldn't see clearly yet, so they strained their ears to hear what was going on. Only 2 of the 5 cubs were confident enough to walk and explore inside the den albeit only when Mom was around and still unstable.
We peered through a very small opening into the den, so there was a lot of foliage in the way. Still, every glimpse of the adorable cheetah babies was magical. Each cub already had its own personality and my heart still pounds just thinking about them.
All images © Christina J. Prestegard 2004 - 2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.