A daylight robbery
Out in the wild, the drama is constant. Every minute is a sequence in the never ending dance for survival. You win some, you lose some. In some cases, the loss will be final. In others, you lick your wounds and move on. There's no place for ego here. Its just a simple policy. Move on.
You miss most of these incidents.
And witness a few unusual ones. Here's the story of one such incident.
It had been a long and tiring day.
A late night arrival at Nairobi. An early morning flight to Mara which got badly delayed. And to make me even more frustrated, due to a simple lack of communication from my side, my second camera body and lens was on its way to our camp along with my luggage and I was restricted to only one lens. The start couldn’t be more inauspicious.
The ride, however, started in a promising fashion even if it didn’t give too many photographic opportunities. Later, rather late in the evening, we came across two ageing lions, famous warriors in their prime. The light was getting to be bad and to make matters worse, one of the typical Mara rains started.
The rain pounded away without respite, and I was nervously poking my lens into the torrent at the lions. Got some magical images though.
We finally decided to call it a day and head to our camp and I heaved a sigh of relief. I desperately wanted to get into a warm shower, eat and crawl into a comfortable bed.
‘ Cheetah with a kill! ’
And there she was.
The cheetah had tucked into a hearty meal. A couple of occasional snarls were enough to keep the opportunistic jackals away.
Through the pelting rain we could see a cheetah with a gazelle next to her. It was a fresh killed and she had just started her meal. A pair of jackals nearby were, as always, trying to sneak in to get a bite or a morsel, backing off at every angry snarl from the cheetah.
The light was lousy, the rain was increasing in its intensity, we had a distance to cover, and, most importantly, all the action of a hunt had obviously already happened, so we decided to move on.
Right then, through the pouring rain, a hyena came running in !
It was a golden opportunity for it to steal a meal and there was no chance it will miss that.
I love the way the water is flying as she jumps back in surprise
Maybe the cheetah too hadn’t seen the hyena till it was right at the kill and she leapt back, snarling at the hyena, but as is always the case, the cheetah had to back off. All her efforts in getting herself dinner were wasted. She had barely got a few nibbles in.
Through the pelting rain, we noticed one last thing as the cheetah walked away.
The swollen belly told a tale
Both the dead gazelle and the cheetah were pregnant.
Two lives were lost and two will go hungry.
As we moved away, this was the last image of the cheetah I took.
Chances of a successful hunt are slim. To lose the prize after a rare good hunt is painful. But life moves on.
Its tempting to ascribe human emotions to animals and I try to avoid doing that, but I do like to think that its a cheetah looking rather sad and wistful at her loss.
What do you think ?
If you enjoyed reading this and would like to regularly read my fortnightly posts on my experiences in the wild, hop over to the Subscribe tab and fill in your details