Most mornings I arrive onto the lakeshore to find at least one, and sometimes multiple groups of impala. They are fascinating to watch, and an accurate gauge as to the proximity of the nearest predator. Their sense of sight and smell are far better than humans. They will snort and make a sound similar to a can of soda being open, a distinct alarm call to warn the others of imminent danger.
When I arrived on the shoreline early Saturday morning, the impala were out in the open, snorting and particularly attentive to something nearby. A cheetah was less than 75m away. For many prey species, a threat that you can see is safer than the one you can’t. They stood frozen, snorting and calling relentlessly, even approaching even closer to the cheetah. This cheetah did not seem phased. She continued to lounge in the grass, not in any position that would indicate hunting or stalking this prey. The impala eventually moved off. I decided to drive around to get some shots of her from a few different angles and stumbled upon the reason for her indifference…she had already made a kill! Less than 20m from where she sat was a partially eaten female impala, hidden amongst the flannel weeds. Soon she limped over with an injured hind leg, presumably from the chase, and plopped down next to the carcass. Like a housecat, she then began digging next to the impala, and covering it with dirt. This cheetah would stand no chance against a lion, leopard, hyena or crocodile, all with snouts tuned to the smell of fresh blood. This would not be good enough, she began to drag the kill into the forest, where she herself rested.
**Note: Impala are aptly nicknamed “fast food” because of the golden arch shaped “M” on their rump, and of course, because of their sheer speed.