By Naboisho Camp Guest, Chris Swindal
Please note: The following blog post contains images which some readers may find distressing. All images are credited to Chris Swindal.
Naboisho Camp is a very special place. And you and all of the staff make it feel like a home away from home. Absolutely top notch! And special thanks to Daniel, for superb tracking and guiding, and for spending very long days with me out in the bush as we searched for big cats, concentrated on photography, and sometimes spent hours and hours simply sitting with and observing the cats. We saw some amazing things.
Just before arriving at Naboisho, while I was in Nairobi, I met someone who had seen a coalition of five male cheetahs in the Mara a few weeks earlier. Once at Naboisho, Daniel told me all about these five cheetahs, that they were first seen at Naboisho in December 2016, and remained in the Naboisho Conservancy until a few months ago when the migration arrived. The prospect of seeing five cheetahs together was too much to pass up. So on my last full day at Naboisho, Daniel and I decided to try our luck and head to the Mara before sunrise to see if we could find them.
On the way to the Mara, while still in Naboisho Conservancy, we got briefly distracted by some lion cubs stalking a herd of wildebeest. The wildebeest saw them, and the cubs had no chance, but they couldn’t help themselves. The cubs eagerly tried their budding stalking and hunting skills. It was great fun to watch.
The lionesses just stood back and watched their cubs play but the scene would foreshadow what we would soon encounter.
A bit later, to our astonishment, we spotted the coalition of five cheetahs almost as soon as we entered the Mara. There they were! The five boys, all together.
And even though I dared not hope for it, they actually seemed to be in hunting mode! We observed the cheetahs from a distance and followed them as they moved from one plain into thick brush. At that point, Daniel positioned us on the far side of the next plain, where there was a large herd of wildebeest. After a while, the cheetahs moved up to the edge of the brush line. But the wildebeest spotted the cheetahs. As the cheetahs retreated, the several other vehicles that were there drove back to the previous plain thinking that the cheetahs were going to double back. Daniel thought that the cheetahs would try again and recommended against following the other vehicles, which included a Nat Geo Wild film vehicle. So we stayed put and continued to observe from a distance. After some time, all five cheetahs emerged from the brush and boldly advanced on the wildebeest herd. They were coming toward us since Daniel put the wildebeest herd between us and the cheetahs. The other vehicles were caught off guard in the wrong location and scurried to return.
The cheetahs split up and boldly walked into the wildebeest herd causing panic and chaos. Daniel had us in the perfect position. It was chaos. Each cheetah was picking out a target. It was difficult to know which cheetah to train my camera on. The action was all around. I have never seen anything like it before. It was nirvana for a wildlife photographer!
One of the cheetahs picked out a target and quickly accelerated to a full-on sprint. After finding his mark, the cheetah wrapped his front arms around a young wildebeest.
In no time at all one of the cheetahs suffocated the wildebeest, and all five were feeding peacefully together. All five shared their prize together, in contrast to when lions feed together and tempers flare. The cheetahs quickly finished off their meal and then started to move on.
As they headed to the edge of the Reserve and into thick brush, we watched them go. A coalition of five cheetahs is a very rare. To see that and to watch them all engage in a hunt from start to finish is something I will never forget. I really want to thank Daniel for his superb tracking skills in finding them, and to have put us in a perfect position as the action unfolded. Simply outstanding!
Chris had quite a number of unbelievable experiences while staying with us at Naboisho Camp. Luckily for us, he captured them all on camera and shared his stories with us! Have a look at his stories here:
Naboisho Camp is set in the 210km² private Mara Naboisho Conservancy, a true wildlife haven. The real magic of Naboisho is its sheer exclusivity – you’ll experience a level of safari solitude and serenity simply unheard of in the busy Serengeti and Masai Mara reserves.
We would love to welcome you to Naboisho and share some of these incredible moments with you.