Photographing cheetah 

Photographing cheetah 

Sara • 02/16/2024


Going out on a photographic safari differs a lot from doing a normal safari as it is all about timing, all about light and all about getting the best photo possible! Recently I drove a photographic group that were staying at Little Bush Camp for 6 nights and the sole purpose was to explore our amazing reserve and try and capture the essence of the wildlife, landscapes and birds we have to offer. Every year this particular group comes through and we have an absolute ball of a time as we spend many hours in the bush trying to get the best shots possible.  

On this particular day we knew that the male cheetah was sitting in the south of the reserve and our goal for the afternoon was to photograph this amazing animal. The day had been extremely hot, about 45 degrees Celsius, and we knew that he wouldn’t get moving till it started cooling. As we got our approach to see him the sun had started to set and cast a beautiful orange glow over the bush.  

He was moving through a lot of thick bush and instead of following from behind I tried to make a big loop around him to get the guests in the best possible position to photograph him. With the sun setting in the background he approached an small clearing where we were able to get low enough to get a good angle and as he came through the tree line it sounded as if World War 3 had broken out as the photographers aimed and released their shutters at 10 frames per second. The combined photo tally between the guests and myself must have been 500 photos in a minute. It was complete chaos as everyone tried to get the settings just right as he moved towards us. The sound of the bush came filtering back into our ears as the shutters stopped clicking and he walked past the vehicle. 

He was now heading to a much larger open area and we moved around and over a drainage line to once again head him off. As he got to the open area he settled down and lay looking around to see if there was any potential meal as if posing for the photographs. After lying next to vehicle for a while he then moved a little further away offering us a different perspective of this beautiful creature.  

About 5 minutes later something caught his interest in front of us and he suddenly started to crouch. As we searched through the bush to see what he had seen we got a glimpse of a duiker moving toward the open area. The cheetah got as low as his long legs could get him and started moving toward the thicker bush.  

Once he had got in there we saw the oblivious duiker moving into the open and we were now waiting for the chase to begin. In a split second the cheetah was sprinting toward the duiker that in panic started to make a break for it. They ran into thick bush and then suddenly the duiker had made a 180-degree turn and was heading back toward thicker bush. The sharp turn seemed to have allowed the duiker the chance to slip away and the cheetah that once again settled to catch his breath had abandoned the lightening attack. What an incredible sighting!