The Chase

[At the end of this post is a video covering the most interesting action sequence.]

Often one spends hours scanning the bush in the hopes of sighting a big cat. Occasionally, one gets lucky and they literally come walking down the road. At first this beautiful cheetah looked like it just was taking a mid-morning walk on a sunny winter’s day in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (south of the Nossob camp). It walked with a smooth slinky grace.

Willie stopped the vehicle to allow it to walk towards us undisturbed by the noise of the vehicle engine. The cat seemed totally at ease and unconcerned about our presence.

 

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

It soon spotted a herd of Springbok who were resting in the dry Nossob River bed and left the road to take a closer look. Luckily for us it decided to do this just opposite where we had stopped our vehicle, so we really had a front seat view. It was now so close to us that we could see its ribcage moving up and down as it was breathing. The only time the cheetah seemed to take note of our presence was when Willie opened his Velcro-strap camera bag to change lenses. In the quiet of the morning, it must have been quite loud to a cat with sensitive hearing. But all the cat did was swivel its ears backwards to determine where the sound was coming from.

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

Initially it seemed to be content just to watch the Springbok and not too interested in them as a potential meal.

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

 

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

Then it obviously decided it was hungry, got up and started some serious stalking.

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

From where it started at the road, it took ages to slowly creep down the slope towards the Springbok. It took 10 minutes to cover a distance of about 10 metres before the start of the final high-speed chase. I have edited the video so that you don’t have to watch each painstaking slow-motion step!

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

The final mad dash was over in seconds. Although the cheetah got very close to its chosen target at times, in this case the cheetah was definitely only the second fastest land animal. According to WikipediaThe cheetah can run faster than any other land animal— as fast as 112 to 120 km/h (70 to 75 mph in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds.”

Shortly after the final chase, the Nossob river bed was deserted except for the cheetah (the central “blob” in the photo below) breathing hard and trying to recover.

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©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

Below, is the video of the final stalk and chase sequence. I did edit it to make the video a little shorter. If possible watch it in HD to get a better quality experience.

What you will see in the video is that the Springbok seem unaware of the cheetah until the point at which it starts running.

If you prefer to watch this video on YouTube click here.

See the most recent Kalahari posts here.

Also see: Kalahari Series I – 2009 and  Kalahari  Series II – 2011

 

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Categories: Nature/Environment, Photography

Author:lisa@notesfromafrica

I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)

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10 Comments on “The Chase”

  1. December 15, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    This is amazing footage and some brilliant close-up portraits. Well done!!!

    • December 17, 2014 at 7:10 am #

      Hi iAMsafari! Thanks for the kind comment. Would just like to point out that the cheetah really was that close initially – no cropping of photos was necessary.

      • December 17, 2014 at 9:05 am #

        Even more impressive Lisa; amazing how some animals allow to let you get so close while making a break for it at other times…
        Kind regards,
        Maurice

  2. Colleen
    December 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Mesmerizing photos and footage. They are such magnificent animals.

    • December 17, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      Hi Colleen! Thanks for your kind comment. I agree, they absolutely stunning animals.

  3. Eha
    December 16, 2014 at 5:06 am #

    Unreal! Really had to hold my breath knowing you would not have posted unless the animal had charged!! Am taking a ‘summer holiday’ but shall try to get this ‘wonderland’ in there ahead of !!

    • December 17, 2014 at 7:13 am #

      Hi Eha! Unfortunately, it didn’t catch up to the buck, but it was amazing nevertheless to watch the whole stalk and chase process. First time I’ve seen that – we’ve always only come across a kill after the actions is over.

      Hope you have a wonderful holiday! Is it very hot there already?

      • Eha
        December 24, 2014 at 7:34 am #

        Merry Christmas beautiful lady! After the horrors of last year we have not reached much past 32 C [minor for us] so far!! And there have been at least showers so we are in a ‘boring’ but relatively ‘safe’ spot!! Have a good one, you and Willie!! love . . .

  4. Estie
    December 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Wow. That is great! Well done.

    • December 17, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      Hi Estie! They are great photos, aren’t they? Willie photographed the stills, while I shot the video – with my little compact camera! (Was amazed at the quality of the video)

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