Most people who go on a journey to the Kruger National Park, or any of the big 5 game reserves, go there with the intention of seeing as many as of the big five as a possible. But I think in the back of their minds most the people would also like to see a predator attack and kill and yes it does happen to some but most times it is so fast and unless you just in the right place at the right time it’s something that you seldom see. I have been living in the Dinokeng Game Reserve now for more than 15 years and have yet to see an actual ambush and kill. But what I did see was the chilling death of a wildebeest that was killed by a family of cheetahs, having already caught the animal.
I was on a normal late afternoon game drive and the Field Guides and I had been chatting to one another, having seen the cheetahs in the area but then the family of cheetahs consisting of a mother and 5 fully grown youngsters of 2 males and 3 females had just disappeared into the bush.
I called up Daviid our young videographer who is also an excellent tracker and asked him to come over and come and help, to see if we could find the family of cheetahs. Daviid actually went past me and said that he would try further on and then slowly work his way back and if he found anything, he would give me a call and I slowly carried on with my game drive.
All of a sudden, I got this frantic call from Daviid. The cheetah family had actually chased a wildebeest and it had run into his vehicle and at that moment the cheetah’s managed to grab the wildebeest and pull it into the bush away from the vehicle. Cheetahs are normally quite smart that way, they will often use fences to catch their prey and hunt in the vicinity of a fence and they chase the animal into the fence and then catch it easily, because they haven’t got a huge amount of stamina in the chase. They have to be really smart when they are hunting because they are still quite slim and very fragile animals.
Fortunately, Daviid was not very far away, only about 150 m away and I was able to get there very quickly with my clients. As we got there the mother cheetah still had the wildebeest by the throat to deliver the choke hold and the other cheetahs were holding the wildebeest down, the wildebeest struggled to get away but with 6 cheetahs holding various parts of his body he really did not stand much of a chance. We stood and watched until finally you could see that she had suffocated the wildebeest and then they slowly started to eat on the carcass. Some of them were eating some of them were resting and we managed to get quite a nice video of the carcass being consumed. By this time it was dark and we were not able to do much more in the way of videos so we left the scene.
I was interested to see if they would still be on the carcass the following morning as there were a number of jackal circling around the carcass continually, while the cheetahs were eating it and every now and again one of the cheetahs would get up and rush the jackals and chase them away
The following morning I took some of the youngsters out with their cameras to go and have a look at the carcass but it had completely disappeared there was absolutely nothing just a brown mark on the grass so my assumption was either the lions that come through and finished off the wildebeest or the cheetahs had finished the wildebeest and the hyenas or jackals had polished off the rest but the carcass was totally gone.