Cheetah Chase Images | Fast as Lightning
Posted by Liam Rainier
Apex field leader, Liam Rainier, shared his reflections along with these remarkable Cheetah chase images from a recent Apex safari in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve.
“Every day spent in wilderness is special, but it’s these halcyon days that stick forever in your memory!”
A once in a lifetime experience
As expedition leaders, we are fortunate to experience many incredible encounters with some of the most extraordinary animals on Earth. In fact, it’s the chance of these encounters that keeps us returning time and time again.
While visiting South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve in December last year as part of a private family safari arranged through Apex Expeditions, we were fortunate to experience one of these phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime encounters, in an afternoon of high drama. In all my years guiding through South Africa’s wilderness areas, nothing could ever have prepared me for this!
Summer storms at Madikwe Game Reserve
Summers in the northern provinces are hot, and this particular afternoon was no exception. Despite a late departure, the thermometer still knocked on 100 degrees Fahrenheit! Searing heat with warm gusts of wind blanketed the thorn bush and, in the distance, dark clouds developed on the horizon. Our destination was the reserve’s northern sector, in search of open habitat. With these powerful gusts in a semi-arid environment, we soon found ourselves immersed in a full-blown sand storm, forcing us to take refuge in some dense Acacia thicket. The storm disappeared as swiftly as it arrived, leaving us covered in sand. But instead of dampening our spirits, we were excited and full of energy!
Our persistence was rewarded soon after when we spotted two Cheetahs, a coalition of brothers, resting beneath a white-barked Shepherd Tree. We were thrilled to have located these graceful predators and settled in to await softer light for images. Soon we were interrupted by yet another storm, this time one of rolling thunder, sheet lightning and eventually a torrential downpour! The cheetahs quickly bolted for cover, but with some deft tracking skills, we stuck with them, being absolutely drenched in the process. Fortunately, these dramatic afternoon thunderstorms dissipate quickly and soon the sun peered through, casting the entire scene in breathtaking golden light.
As if on cue, our cheetahs became active, strolling beneath a full rainbow that had burst onto the landscape. Soon, they encountered a bachelor herd of Blue Wildebeest. I turned to my guests, to explain: “There’s no chance these Cheetahs have what it takes to bring down one of these large animals.”
As fast as lightning
How glad I was that these apex predators proved me wrong! No sooner were the words out of my mouth than their shoulders dropped and they started stalking, ever nearer, using the scattered shrubs for cover. As the closest wildebeest lowered its head to graze, both brothers exploded in a full speed chase. We watched, spellbound, from the outset to the climactic finale, this fastest of felines finally tripping its prey in a cloud of dust. We arrived at the scene to witness the culmination of an age-old battle, the risk and the fight, for survival. What an extraordinary experience that I hope to have captured in these Cheetah chase images.
Every day spent in wilderness is special, but it’s these halcyon days that stick forever in your memory. These encounters with nature bring us back, over and over again.
Learn more about field leader Liam Rainier and his upcoming expeditions.