A special sighting in this calibre only comes around once or twice a year if you are lucky…..
This was one of those sightings, and this is how it all went down……
The 4 cheetah brothers were located in the morning, and we expected them to be there when we got back in the afternoon, but on arrival found nothing… After a quick tracking session, I determined that the tracks were heading west away from the original location, and it was not long before we located them with some serious intent on hunting something down. Their mood was clear…. they were hungry and determined to catch something to eat. Well, after following them for about 30 mins with not an animal in sight for them to hunt, I left the sighting to go looking for a black rhino that lives in that area. We did not find the black rhino we were looking for, so I decided to go back to the hunting cheetahs. The sun was just setting, and then a call on the radio came… ” You can join us here “. It was not 30 seconds after the call came through on the radio, when all hell broke loose !! Zebra and wildebeest were running in every direction, kicking up a dust storm that blanketed the commotion of the crime scene. The cheetah had just pulled down a young wildebeest, and we unfortunately did not see the actual take down, but arrived there minutes after, to discover that the cheetahs were catching their breath and still strangling the last life out of the wildebeest.
After the dust had settled, they began to feed, and one of the cheetah opened up the carcass from the shoulder area, and it was not 2 minutes later that 1, 2, 3, 4, but 5 jackals appeared out of the woodwork all hoping for a scrap to eat when the cheetahs would be done feeding. But, that was not the only scavenger that heard all of this raucous, and is if he had been given the memo, a spotted hyena came in to join the melee of fresh smells of the kill. The hyena started approaching the brothers cheetah and their kill, when one of the cheetah confronted the hyena, which by the way is something that cheetahs also avoid, as they are low on the predator hierarchy.
The hyena payed no attention to the cheetahs attempt at chasing him away, and just made his way straight into the kill, and started feeding, which for me was incredible, as 4 cheetah would be able to chase off the lone hyena, but they allowed him in to continue feeding with the odd hissing and spitting attempt to discourage the scavenger.
I have never seen this behavior before, however I have seen a leopard feeding off of a carcass with a hyena before, but this astonished me, and I can only assume that the hyena must have been a very low ranking male within his clan dynamics, and was used to showing generous amounts of sharing, while the cheetah been the lowest ranking in the predator hierarchy did not want to loose their hard earned meal, and they knew that fighting this hyena would have been for naught, so they opted for a communal feed instead.
It just goes to show, that everyday out here in the bush a new rule book is written, and you can always expect the unexpected !!
Till next time…