Yes, I admit it. I was cheeting on these magnificent cats. Experts argue that Cheetahs are actually not really in the cat family, as they can’t retrieve their claws. Well, they sure ain’t dogs either.
What they are is magnificent and graceful to watch. Being the fastest land mammal, they can reach speeds up to 100 km/h. Imagine driving along and a cheetah passes you? An interesting thought. They can’t keep this high tempo up for long and need to stalk their prey from close range.
Using their long tail as a steering wheel, counterbalancing the chasers quick turns. A lean machine. Often confused for leopards, cheetahs have a few distinctive differences.
Most obvious are their two black stripes extending from their inner eye along the nose. Cheetahs are made for speed and are therefore leaner, almost skinny built.
They can’t climb trees and prefer the open savanna, chasing medium to small Antelope. Being the only cat I haven’t seen in the wild territory on my Southern Africa adventure, I needed to change my approach. I heard of ‘Sophienhof Lodge’, who facilitate spacious campgrounds as well. Having a large grazing area for most of Africa’s herbivores, their main attraction are cheetahs. Most of Namibia’s northern section is inhabited by mainly cattle and sheep farmers. Having a hungry predator lurking around stock could be a costly affair, most farmers take drastic actions.
Brothers Kibi and Kitty were victims of such fatal incident and were brought to ‘Sophienhof Lodge’ as orphans and tiny fluffy fur balls. Not having learnt on how to hunt, these two cheetahs would have not survived in wild territory.
Kibi is the larger and stronger developed cheetah, while kitty is just a smaller, large kitten.
Keeping them in a large enclosure helps these two graceful cats to survive and the opportunity for travellers to get up close and personal with cheetahs. An opportunity I couldn’t miss. Now at the age off two years, the cheetah brothers are fed daily in the afternoon. They were seen running through the scrubs as we were driving along the fence. They knew where to go, it’s feeding time!
Anxiously, Kibi, the first cheetah to arrive, with the long tail stuck in between his legs.
When he laid down, his brother Kitty came from behind and observed us. Even though used to being fed by humans, these are still wild animals.
Tanja from Braunschweig, Germany, was the first serve. First to serve, I mean. She returned with an excited glimpse in her eyes.
I was up next, the second course. Seeing and being so close Kibi and Kitty was just a phenomenal feeling. Just wow.
I was lucky to take a few great closeup photos.
Their facial expressions, almost fearful, yet soo hungry.
Our local guide threw a couple pieces off meat, which they pounced on without hesitation and then retreated into the nearby bushes. This revolved for a few times. Just vow.
Licking the blood off, Sophienhof, Outjo, Namibia
Tanja’s mum bravely served their dessert. When all meat was gone, the blood was licked from the feeding platform.
The reason for this stone platform to be placed there, is for the cheetahs to be able to do that.
And they purely enjoyed that.
Not a drop was wasted.
One thing that really categorises them with cats is their behaviour. Licking and cleaning their fur is just as much part of their routine as any other cat. Their facial expression wasn’t as anxious anymore after being fed, their tail not in between their legs. These two just didn’t seem to get enough of each other it appeared. Brother love? ‘That too. But more importantly, is licking the blood of each other’s faces.’ Our well-known guide explained.
At times it did look as if they were smooching though.
Either way, they were very comfortable with each other.
Guess they only have each other.
Watching this two interact with each other is just indescribable. I just wanted to go over and join the cuddles. I didn’t want to scare them for life either.
I could have spent all afternoon just sitting there and watching them. Just fantastic. Our tour guide could just leave me here and pick me up on their way back. But it was time to ‘giddy up’ again, just as we did earlier, after feeding the ostrich family.
The male ostrich had one very sore eye. It is believed that he came across and too close to a Spitting Cobra. As the name suggests, these snakes spit venom with surprising accuracy into the opponent’s eyes and use the distraction to escape. This ‘distraction’ is very painful and needs to be washed out immediately. Permanent blindness is often followed if not treated correctly. But he didn’t turn a blind eye to the food pallets on offer.
He and three females were quite tame and didn’t mind to be gently stroked around the neck. Only if the food was on offer, of course. They are hatching on 4 eggs at the moment, soon there will be chicks joining the feeding frenzy.
Ostriches are actually and literally oversized chickens. They need to take in the sand to clean their stomachs. The reason why they are fed on the ground with leftover pallets.
The large property is used as photo game safari. Most common African Antelope and giraffes call this farm their home.
With the Rainy Season upon us, the cloud formation was set dramatically.
Many youngsters were seen already.
These baby giraffes were about 4 weeks old,
whilst mom ate and disappeared behind a Kamelthorn Acacia.
Many kudus lined the Kamelthorn Acacia Trees as well.
This female was playing hide and seek behind a termite mound covered tree.
‘I can see you!’
Her girlfriend wasn’t far off but just as curious.
Across the tracks stood a few more Kudu, using the spiky Kamelthorn Acacia as cover.
A large number off Dik-Dik were seen in the not so high grass area.
Being Africa’s smallest Antilope, they are usually hard to spot in the wild, for food reasons. These seemed a little tamer.
The colourful Inala bull stalking through high grass sure gave a colourful display.
The Inala are most definitely one off the prettiest Antilope in Africa.
Surrounded by green high grass gave the photo dramatic colour and depth in structure.
The sun rays broke through partially thick clouds whilst driving along, the rays beaming like torches.
Two Whiteneck Vultures were observing the area from a high tree, standing by itself. These vultures are Africa’s biggest flying birds in the sky, but also an endangered species.
Even though being mostly scavengers, they shower up to 5 times a day at the watering hole nearby.
We stopped at the ‘sunset spot’ to watch the sun sink lower behind cloudy skies.
The cloud cover intensified the orange sky like a giant fireball.
One of the many dramatic African sunsets I witnessed.