We were approaching Kransbrak from the south. It was a warm winter’s day around midday. None of us was expecting to see anything exciting at the waterhole. A Dutch couple flagged us down and told us that a family of cheetah were feeding on a freshly caught springbok on the other side of the riverbed. It took us a while to find the cheetah, as they were far across the valley. 

As we watched them feeding, the mother suddenly got up and started walking along the edge of the riverbed in a southerly direction. She started to stare dead ahead and seemed to be stalking. As we scanned with the binoculars to the right, in the direction of her gaze, we noticed a leopard coming out of the collection of caves, walking towards her. The female cheetah would stop every few paces and snarl, but the leopard just kept on walking towards her. When they were 80 m apart, the cheetah gave a threatening charge and turned away, at which point the leopard set off after her. With her superior speed, the cheetah only needed to do a slow gallop, while the leopard was doing a full sprint to catch up to her. The cheetah was so confident in her speed that she even looked over her shoulder as she was running. 

The leopard kept up the short chases, while the cheetah worked her way back to the kill and her cubs. The cheetah tried a few more mock charges at the leopard to scare him off, but eventually the leopard just walked right up to the kill, scattered the cubs and stood over the springbok carcass. He then dragged the carcass of the big male springbok between his front legs, all the way back to where he came from and started feeding, while the cheetah family could just watch in despair.

Photo story: Faith Savage and Jaco Powell

This photo story features in the book Kgalagadi Self-Drive – Routes, Roads and Ratings.
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