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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Sightings
Corinne Kendall — in East Africa Project    Share

I have had some really good sightings, especially last week when I had some visitors (a modeler from France and a biologist from London who were interested in my vulture work). We managed to see five cheetahs in one day and completely miss the leopards (which have been hiding from everyone for almost a week now). We first came upon a mother and her cub. When we arrived they were still sleeping, but soon the cub was up and playing. He started by pouncing on his mother’s head. She lifted her tiny skull up, keeping the rest of her body completely flat with the ground. The cub tried again. She stood up and pounced on him, rolling him on his back while she play-bit his stomach. Then she tried to clean him as if this would appease his childishness. He was quickly up again, attaching her twitching tail as if it were a tiny bird. He grabbed a hold of the black fluffy tip and the female batted him away with her paw. This quickly digressed into more tumbling and pawing as the two had a full out wrestling match. I’ve never seen an adult cheetah so willing to play, but I suppose with no siblings, Mom had to step in a bit more as this little guy’s play mate.

Someone told us there was a lion kill so we drove off. Clearly they hadn’t actually seen it. We arrived at the carcass of a wildebeest, which was unusual as we hadn’t seen a single wildebeest in at least 20 km. Even stranger, were the actual cats feeding on it – three male cheetah. How they managed to kill it I couldn’t imagine as cheetahs usually have to crush the windpipe, but Wilson swore that he had seen these three brothers kill prey as big as zebra and topi. They must have been eating for a while, as nearly half of the kill was gone and all three male cheetahs had blood mustaches from their nibbling. The sun fell as we drove away and a small rainbow sliver etched the evening sky as the rains moved in.

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