The Hunt

May 15, 2013 Unique Safaris in Tanzania

I’ve now spent 16 weeks total on safari in Africa but it wasn’t until this trip that I witnessed life’s full circle. I saw first-hand, three Cheetah kills, one near Cheetah kill, and one lion kill. Now I’m a soft-hearted guy and I don’t feel like I didn’t get my money’s worth if I don’t witness a predator drag his dinner down right in front of me.  However, I not naïve and I do realize that it’s all part of nature and that all animals deserve to eat.  Seeing the circle of life in its entirety, from life to death, unfold in front of me was really amazing. The most impressive of all the cat chases I saw was a couple of miles west of Lake Ndutu.  Making our way across the flat grasslands we came across a lone adult male Cheetah.  We stopped a short distance away because the cheetah was eyeing a lone Thompson Gazelle about two hundred yards away from him. Thanks to our driver guide we were in the perfect spot.  To our left in front of us was the gazelle and to our right in front of us was the Cheetah.  The Cheetah was definitely in hunting mode.  He stayed low in the grass and gradually got closer to the “Tommy.”  As he got closer he would freeze whenever the gazelle was looking around, and whenever the gazelle bent over to graze the cheetah would move a few feet closer.  It was an exercise in patience and somewhat surreal.  When the Cheetah got about 80 yards away he picked up his pace and by the time he was 40 yards away he was going full speed.  It only took about 2 seconds to close the gap. WOW to see that powerful animal going full speed across the Serengeti was something I’ll never forget. At the last second the gazelle saw the Cheetah and made a lighting fast move to the side. In a cloud of dust and grass the Cheetah turned just as fast to catch it. The gazelle took off like a rocket back in the direction the cat had just come from, causing the Cheetah to do a full 180. The cheetah came within just a couple of feet from taking down the Tommy, but with only one shot and the gazelle going full out in the other direction, the chase was over.  It was truly incredible!

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