Monday, December 03, 2012

Leopards and Cheetahs don't share . . .

She was sleepy. She was grouchy. She had supper stashed in her tree.

Our jeep had just stopped. Ombeni explained that the leopard, like the cheetah, didn't like to share her food. In fact, a leopard commonly drags her kill (this time, a Thomson's gazelle), into a tree to hide it from other predators. She can run as fast as 40 mph to catch her prey. Apparently, it's quite difficult to see leopards in the wild as we did on our first day in the Serengeti, for these animals are silent and nocturnal, and they hunt by stealth. No wonder she was grouchy. We interrupted her nap.

Later, we spotted two cheetahs resting in the grasslands near a herd of wildabeest, just enjoying the sun. Notice her uptipped ears. She doesn't miss much as she lolls lazily on the ground. Those black tear marks on her face actually help her see long distances (just as footballers put black marks under their eyes to avoid sun glare).

The cheetah uses speed to bring down her prey and can reach 70-75 mph during her short chase. Smaller than the leopard, the cheetah may not keep her catch as more aggressive lions and hyenas will chase her away. The cheetah doesn't share willingly.

Poor baby.

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