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. At first, all I could see was small patches of fur on their backs using monoculars. They were hidden deep in a thicket and I was thrilled to see three tiny cubs, only about a week old.
The next day, Mom had already moved them to a new den. It took another 8 days to 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 cubs. We stayed until the dark sky opened up and it 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 flood 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 then slept. With the cubs safe and fed, Mom left to go hunting again and the cubs huddled together to stay warm. Even then, a few of the cubs shivered. The smallest cub with the big bright eyes was adorable. He was the most alert - always listening for Mom's return - 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.
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.