In this image there are no good guys and there are no bad guys. They’re all just players in a drama that has been played out for as long as there have been living things. We all kill to eat. It’s a fact of life.
An hour earlier, these two Cheetahs were on the ridge just on this side of that dark stand of trees in the far distance. They were scouting for a meal, one that they had tried and failed to kill earlier in the day. Also, on these rolling hills there were scattered groups of gazelles, antelopes and other grazers. The Cheetahs watched for a while, becoming increasingly more attentive. They moved a little down the hill and stopped.
We were watching from a low spot just below the top of the foreground hill.
All of a sudden, one of the cheetahs bolted into a full run towards us. He covered the entire distance (nearly a quarter of a mile?) in about ten seconds, running right past us. We followed and literally in just a few seconds we saw the Cheetah with the neck of a Topi calf clamped in its jaws. Both were on the ground as the second Cheetah joined the first one.
What you are seeing here is the aftermath, about an hour later.
The young Topi struggled for a bit, all the while calling out for its mother, but was finally overcome by shock and asphyxiation. It took too long. The Cheetahs were already feeding before it died.
The Cheetahs ate as fast as they could but every few seconds would look around being very wary of scavengers or bigger predators. This is what the standing one is doing in this image. As you can see, there is little left of the calf in terms of meat and organs.
The dark animal in the distance is a full-grown Topi. She was the calf’s mother. For nearly the entire time, she had been frantically running back and forth making bleating sounds, returning her calf’s calls but unable to help. At this point she is now just watching.
The hunt and chase were thrilling but the outcome was very difficult to watch. It was however a drama that is enacted countless times each day during the Great Migration. We just happened to be there to witness this particular performance.
All Photographs © 2021 John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.