At noon on our third day at Serengeti camp, we found the cheetah family that we had seen two days earlier, just before the thunderstorm. They were in the acacia woodland earlier. Now they were on the savanna about a mile from the acacia woodland.
The mother cheetah had killed a thomson’s gazelle, and the safari land cruisers found the cheetahs. In this photo, four safari vehicles are very close the the cheetahs, and there are more vehicles. The mother cheetah is reacting to the tight circle of vehicles surrounding her four cubs. The short grass provides little cover. This photo was taken at 100 mm focal length.
Right after this picture was taken, our lead guide radioed all the guides to give the cheetahs more room. Remarkably, every vehicle except one moved back. Because we moved back, most of the remaining pictures were taken at 400 mm, four times the magnification of the first photo.
The cheetah mother tried to drag the gazelle, but she was too exhausted to drag it far.
The cheetahs stopped feeding. We had watched for an hour. We drove back to camp for lunch.
Back at camp, our lead guide told us what happened that morning. Another guide had watched the cheetahs before we arrived and told our guide. The cheetah mother went hunting. She couldn’t take the cubs while hunting, so she left them in the woodland, where they could hide from predators. After killing the gazelle, she went back to the woodland and brought her cubs to the kill so they could eat and she could protect them. She had dragged the kill toward the woodland but she was too tired to drag the gazelle the remaining mile.