By now you may have noticed the wonderful array of cheetah images across our social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These images are the first set in a new monthly feature we will be doing on both our social media and blog, which will share the work of some of the world’s most talented wildlife photographers and filmmakers, as well at their favourite cheetah stories. Lucky us!
A huge thank you to Richard Costin for being our first featured photographer. Below he shares the stories behind his images and why he loves cheetahs just as much as we do.
Cheetahs! Wonderful creatures that inspire every photographer, guide, ranger & workshop client I encounter. Beautiful, sleek, delicate, dangerous and of course sublimely fast. Unfortunately I will also have to add, in deep trouble to that list.
My first encounter with a wild Cheetah was in the lush Lemek Conservancy bordering the Masai Mara National park many years ago. My guide and I knew she was in the area (we believe it was the mother of the now (in)famous Malika, meaning Angel in Swahili) and after an hour or two of looking, we found her! At first light, all to ourselves in a remote part of the conservancy! She was magnificent, lit up by the bright red sun and from that instant I was in love.
Unafraid of our vehicle she moved around slowly and after putting on a good show, leapt onto our open top vehicle and sunbathed for a while (a practice I now actively discourage, but back then as as wide-eyed upstart I didn’t know any better). A few hours later, I saw my first ever cheetah hunt (a successful one at that) and my heart was racing.
Well, ever since that moment I have all the time in the world for cheetahs and for a man who has very little patience (I have to work really, really hard to stay focused doing the job I do, ironic isn’t it!) that’s saying something! My pursuit of photographing or simply observing them leads me to regularly raise at an unearthly 5am, roast in the midday sun, soak in the pouring rain and endlessly grow ever more hungry having put back breakfast again as they are always “about to go this time!”. All this with a big smile on my face.
I also love the way they can teach us all a little something about perseverance. The troubles they encounter out in the wilds are numerous and constant, whether it is a hyena stealing their meal, angry warthog chasing them away from their piglet or lions suddenly prowling towards them. They barely get a moment’s peace. So even when they are sat doing absolutely nothing, you feel privileged to see that rare moment of tranquillity.
The troubles of course extend to the human factor and I have always admired the work the CCF has done to help these magnificent yet endangered creatures, taking their cues from the very animal they are helping and refusing to give up. Whilst cheetahs are just a small part of the ecosystem, they are a beautiful and important one that needs our help. With the hard work of these organisations they can live on and thrive. Hopefully that can continue to happen and prevent their ultimate demise which would without understatement, be a tragedy.
They put a big fat smile on my face every time we spot one through the binoculars, and the viewfinder of my camera comes alive when one is in the frame. People outside of the wildlife photography circle often ask me if I get bored photographing the same animal over and over again and I always have the same reply; Not for a second, just look at them!
Fancy joining Richard for a big cat photography workshop? Well, you’re in luck! Richard is running a Big Cat Workshop in 2021
and is taking bookings now. Visit his website for more information.