cheetah cub looking at cameraCaption: Young cheetah, one of five cubs, looking directly at camera with its siblings in the background, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Shutter speed: 1/250; Aperture: f/8; ISO: 400; Fill-in flash.

While in Mashatu Game Reserve in January this year, we found a cheetah mother with her five cubs lying in the shade of a nearby tree (below).

Cheetah mother with five cubs

Although such a sighting sounds a great photo opportunity, it was a challenge trying to find a focal point, so I tried isolating parts of the scene using a 400mm lens and, in this case, opted for black and white to minimise distractions.

But back to the cheetah mother: to successfully raise and feed five hungry cubs is an amazing achievement and testament to her hunting prowess.

Friends of mine who were in Mashatu a couple of weeks ago saw the mother, with all the cubs still alive. The youngsters are now nearly grown up, but not yet skilled enough to hunt on their own, making the job of feeding the whole family even more onerous.

On one occasion, while the mother was trying to get within striking distance of an impala, the playful youngsters alerted the prey, forcing the mother to abandon her hunt.

It’s a dangerous time for these young cheetah as they’re bold enough to experiment, yet lacking the experience to recognise danger, leaving them susceptible to attack by lions or leopards.

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