In the daily dose of bush life, there is always an exciting tale to tell… this time it was right in camp, outside tent one, as narrated by one of Mavela’s field guides, Sam Vorster: “On a windy morning at Mavela, guests Graeme and Inge decided it was far too cold and windy to go out on a game drive and chose to rather relax and have a lie-in. Little did they know that¬†Lady Luck was determined to show them her world…

Around 6.30am, a big gust of wind blew the tent door open. Graeme got up to close it. As he bent to unlatch the door, an impala came racing past at full speed. It was shortly followed by none other than – a cheetah!

cheetah hunting at mavela game lodge in the manyoni private game reserve, Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Cheetah on the hunt. Photo: Murdoch Grant

Graeme watched, stunned, as the cheetah caught and killed a young impala right in front of their tent, barely ten meters away. Once they had recovered from the shock of what had happened, Graeme and Inge, snuck out of their tent and went to the main reception area to report this incredible experience. They were slightly disappointed to see the game-drive vehicle missing. In the meantime, I had noticed the rest of the impala herd alarm-calling and was driving around the other side of the lodge looking in the direction where the impala were looking. I returned to the lodge as the couple arrived. Both Graeme and Inge’s excitement were palpable as they passionately recounted each moment of the event.

We quickly climbed into the game viewer and drove around to watch the kill from an angle where the cheetah would not be disturbed and where we would be able to obtain optimum photographs.

luck of the draw, cheetah kill in front of tent one at Mavela Game Lodge, Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Luck of the draw – cheetah kill in front of tent one. Photo: Graeme Markham

In the Manyoni Private Game Reserve cheetah are accustomed to game drive vehicles stopping to view them and this enabled us to sit silently and watch this unique event at length. The carcass had been dragged to longer grass for better cover. Whilst she ate, the cheetah remained on high alert making sure she wouldn’t be caught unsuspecting by any other roving predator. Cheetahs are known to have a rate of acceleration faster than any Formula 1 car. This speed has come at a price and while cheetahs are incredibly fast, they are not particularly strong. This means they must always be aware of their surroundings to avoid confrontation with a stronger predator. They will almost always come off second best in one of these confrontations thus it is far better for their health to avoid confrontation all together.

We returned to the lodge and ate breakfast merely 100 metres away from this spectacular sighting. By the early afternoon, the cheetah had eaten her fill and left the rest for scavengers. This is one experience which I am sure the Markhams’ will be dining out on for years to come!”

As mentioned in the Mavela Moments, Autumn 2017 newsletter, the grass is becoming shorter in the reserve with the change of seasons and; cat sightings are becoming more frequent.

Cheetah sightings at Mavela Game Lodge in the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa by Brad Smith

In recent weeks, cheetah have been sighted frequently near Mavela Game Lodge, with this cheetah and cub kill approximately half a kilometre away. Photos: Brad Smith

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