I chose the title to be “A Mother’s Instinct” because the following blog is about looking at the mother’s role – both as the hunter and the hunted. It all started with a cool, fresh morning at the Mhondoro hide, when we heard impala alarm calling and received a radio call from Mhondoro butler, Eddie who reported seeing three cheetah right in front of the lodge. It was a female cheetah with two cubs, relaxing in a shady spot underneath a nearby tree.
Some of our staff members took some great photographs of the cheetah from the lodge deck, as they began to get more active. Instinctively the mother was looking for food as she had three to feed, and she started scanning the area. In the distance we saw another mother of two, but this time it was another species, the local warthog family – and we just knew what was coming. Warthogs are generally very defensive and aggressive animals, especially when there are piglets involved, and a female will go to extent of trying to chase away even lions from her young, in order to protect them. The female cheetah cautiously approached the warthog piglets while their mother was feeding and that’s when we really understood the “mother’s instinct” coming into play. The warthog mom had to protect her young from being preyed on, while the cheetah had to hunt to provide food for her and her cubs.
The female cheetah left her cubs in the long grass as she accelerated with great speed towards one of the piglets. Instinctively the female warthog stood her ground and charged towards the female cheetah, intending to scare her off, but at this point the cubs got excited by all the action and joined the chase. It was a matter of life and death, witnessing the hunter and the hunted chasing each other. With dust in the air this was a sight with accompanying sounds that was truly unforgettable. After a few failed attempts trying to kill one of the piglets, the cheetah finally backed off and moved on, away from the brave warthog family. Here are a few facts about the relationship between cheetah and warthog:
- A cheetah can hunt warthog up to their own body weight, approximately 45kg.
- Cheetah are very opportunistic hunters and often target warthog as both animals are active during the day.
- Warthog are known to fight off cheetah as well as lion and leopard, and will not back down if they have young with them.
- These two species usually don’t have too much contact and are at times seen together with no intent of fighting.
Once again we were able to log another successful sighting at the Mhondoro hide and it seems that the more time we spend here, the better sightings we see! It was a wonderful experience to witness the mother instinct in action, and to see both sides of the story on this particular day.
Mhondoro Ranger – Marcus Hack