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Stories from the Kenyan bush

23 August 2013 - Cheetah Kill - Lewa Safari Camp

lewaWhen Kara and I had arrived back at Lewa Safari Camp we were both surprised to find out that Norman, the assistant storekeeper had been promoted to guide and that, even with this being peak season, both Festus and Laban had been given a week off.... And to top it off, so had Albert, the head storeman, leaving just the new guy, Francis, to run the stores!

Oh, and with it being end of month, we had bulk orders and stock takes to sort out as well!

Kara had no option but to pull Norman from guiding for one day in order to catch up on the stores and ensure that the stock take was done correctly. This allowed me to head out into the wilderness with guests and strut my stuff!

lewaHeading off to the airstrip with a group of guests who were catching a private charter, we met one of the other LSC game drive vehicles headed back to camp. I was informed that they had just found a cheetah on a fresh kill at "Bomb Campsite" - an unusually named clump of fever trees near the swamp. Based on recent "wildlife sightings sheets" I suspected that this was the mother and her cub. We arrived there to find a dead but otherwise untouched Grants Gazelle. After driving around for a short while we found the mother and her cub relaxing under a tree, some 100m from the kill.

Whilst watching her, a Sirikoi Landrover arrived at the scene. The cub immediately jumped up and walked over to the Landie and clambered up on the bonnet - wow! After checking out the guests through the windscreen for a few minutes the cub jumped down and scampered after its mum, who was now walking back toward the kill.

lewaThe Sirikoi vehicle left and we drove over to the kill and got into position. When the cheetah and her cub arrived the cub bounded up to the kill and rolled around on the dead Grants for a short while before moving to the tail and began to chew on the hide. The mother just sat back and watched - this was obviously the next step in life lessons for the cub.

lewaOver the next 30 minutes we watched as the cub finally, with the help of mum, broke through the skin and began feeding. Whilst one ate the other would keep guard and it was only for short periods when both feasted together. The mum kept looking over towards the main road as if there was something concerning her in that direction.... As I had seen enormous and very fresh lion footprints there the previous day it is possible that she could smell the lion?

We eventually left the cheetahs and headed to the airstrip for the guests flight. 10 minutes later two wonderful guys flew up for three nights. We returned to the kill and watched the pair! Alternating between eating and relaxing in the mid day heat, for almost an hour. Randomly, not once did I spot a vulture!

It was only two days later that I managed to get out of camp again and, after a little searching, found the same cheetahs watching Grants Gazelle less than 2km from where we had seen them previously.

lewaThe background on this mother is that she originally had three cubs, but one was killed by lions early on, and the second was killed in early May. She has since moved from the "Wilderness Plains" where she was frequently seen, and for the past few weeks has been hanging around the area between "Bomb Campsite" and the swamp.... A dangerous territory as the formidable female lioness with young cubs hunts in the same area.... Lets hope that this gorgeous young cheetah survives to adulthood!