This month’s featured photographer is David Roberts of Alykat images, who has been photographing cheetahs for many years. Not only are Dave and his wife Liz huge cheetah fans, but they are also very valued and dedicated supporters of CCF UK, always being on hand to help us make our website, events and social media pages stunningly beautiful. Alykat also donate 100% of the profits from their cheetah prints and calendars to CCF UK, so if you purchase a print of any of the amazing photographs below, you will help support the cheetahs! Read all about Alykat’s experience with photographing cheetahs below.
One of my first, and indeed favourite images, of a family of cheetahs climbing. They do this to gain height for better visibility of the surrounding area to scan, not only for hunting opportunities, but also to give a better chance to spot predators. With semi retractable claws, it is quite difficult for them to climb, so a shot like this is very special to me.
To achieve a successful hunt, the cheetah needs to be fast, but also she needs to be clever. This female is approaching a possible target impala, but in order to get close enough to make a final attack, she must get as close as possible. She does this by stealth, silently crawling through the red oat grass, occasionally stopping to regain composure. I managed to capture this moment as she fixed her gaze on her prey.
From an early age, young cheetahs will take any chance to gain elevation. I observed this little one and her family for several hours until finally, she took a running jump at this tree. Having scrambled a few feet up, she stopped and grabbed the tree trunk as if her life depended on it, the look on her face shows her slight concern. As I clicked the shot, she jumped down and disappeared with her family.
“Before the Storm”
A storm was brewing to the North of the Mara Triangle. I had been watching this male moving slowly through a croton thicket. Eventually he came out into the fading light and gazed across the rocky terrain ahead. Though cloudy weather is sometimes advantageous to a cheetah’s hunting strategy, he knows that this is not ideal terrain for him to hunt, and the topi in the distance are too big for him alone. He watched for several minutes before slowly moving on.
It was with great excitement that I received a message from one of our camp guides that a cheetah with four cubs had taken a Thomson’s gazelle. As we arrived at the kill site, the meal was all but over, and the family was moving slowly away, leaving only scraps for the awaiting vulture army. Being very early on in my days of documenting cheetah activity, this was a special sighting. My driver Simon, had placed our vehicle some 100 metres away so as not to cause any disturbance to the cats but, as the cubs moved into cover to rest they, passed within feet of our vehicle, giving me the chance of a series of shots of these beautiful young cheetahs.
“The Eye of the Cheetah”
After many years observing and documenting cheetah activity, I was finally given the opportunity to photograph a cheetah in full flight towards the camera. “Down the barrel” as it is known to the wildlife photographer. This world-renowned cheetah was the amazing Malaika. We had been observing her for several days without a sign of a hunt, when suddenly one morning, she sprung to life and let fly at a large male impala. This was one of the longest chases I have ever seen, lasting several minutes before “the Angel” as she is known in Swahili, turned her pray towards me and took him down within a few feet of our vehicle. This image has earned accolades from around the world and is presently hanging proudly in our office.
Male cheetahs will often form coalitions with other males when they leave their mother. This group, known on the Masai Mara as the “Fast Five”, has become a formidable force on the plains, readily taking prey at will. I was fortunate enough to see them here at rest. With the cats obviously comfortable with our presence, I was able to get low down to capture them from a low angle giving a pleasing view of these fantastic animals.
“The Stand Off”
Having failed a hunt attempt on these Thomson’s gazelles, this female cheetah has given in for now. As long as the gazelles keep her in sight, they will be able to outrun her now that she is tired. Both parties seem to know this is the case, and so accept this “quid pro quo” situation and carry on their daily duties. This gave me a great chance to snap this unusual situation.
We had observed these three siblings since they were born. A mischievous trio indeed, rarely sitting still at all, let alone together. With their mother on the termite mound beside them, I was able to get a lovely low angle image of them. Fortunately, they all looked at me at the same time,which is unusual as groups of cheetahs usually look in different directions to give maximum viewing coverage.
A simple yet effective shot of a female cheetah wending her way across the savannah. With perfect early morning light, I was able to take time to get the shot composed correctly. Little did I know until editing later, that my beautiful cheetah had been photo bombed by a butterfly. Sometimes you just get lucky!
This female cheetah had decided to take a look out in the lower boughs of an ancient fig tree. Though she was not hungry, her natural instincts will always tell her to keep an active eye open. From here she can observe the activities of the ungulates around her and give her an idea of where her next meal may be found. I could not resist taking this shot of her in all her glory and of course, that amazing fig tree.
“In The Last Of The Light”
This was one of my first encounters of a cheetah in the wild. Our guide Simon had news of a young male cheetah very close to our camp. “Would we like to take a look?”, he asked! Though we were losing light fast, there was only one answer, “yes please, quickly!” After a very short and fast drive, Simon found the cheetah. It was a magical moment. As the light faded away, this wonderful young cat sat almost posing for me as he looked all around him. As the last rays of sunlight illuminated him through the branches of a nearby croton bush, I was able to capture the moment forever.
Want to make your home more cheetah-filled? Or think your relative or friend may like one of these gorgeous prints for their Christmas present?