Crater Chase


Crater Madness
Up Close&Personal
Crater Chase
Cheetah Story

'The Crater Chase'

by Michael Wishner

During the second day in the Ngorongoro Crater we came upon a mother cheetah and her four cubs with a captured Thomson's Gazelle. This was the first cheetah sighting of the trip and what eventually unfolded would become one of the top highlights of the safari.

It looked as if the cheetahs had just started dinning when off in distance we spotted a single hyena. The hyena must have been at least half a mile away but it was slowly circling closer to the kill. The hyena's sense of smell must be incredibly powerful as it was able to locate the cheetahs and their kill. Overpowered by the larger hyena, the cheetah mother did not put up much of a fight as the hyena ran off with the gazelle in its mouth.

Needless to say we were all very depressed at this point as the cheetah mom and her cubs looked in need of a good meal. We decided to follow the cheetahs at a respectable distance to see if anything else would transpire. After perhaps 30 minutes of walking, the cubs abruptly stopped and laid down. Their mom walked away and began stalking. I looked in my binoculars and far off in the distance I could make out a small group of gazelles. The cheetah slowly stalked closer and closer to the gazelles for about another 30 minutes. All of sudden, the cheetah began to trot and than in a split second it was off at full speed. What I saw at this point was a blur due to a combination of the hi-speed chase and the fact that I was so excited the binoculars were shaking.

The ten second chase ended in a cloud of dust and a new meal for the family. After a few minutes, the mother cheetah called her cubs with a hi-pitched chirping sound. The cubs appeared from their hiding spot and scampered through the grass to their mom. Fortunately, there were no hyenas on the horizon this time.

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