The occupants of a number of stationary vehicles alert us to cheetah in the grasses. With much focus we make out two dark heads framed by sun-backed grass. They’re sitting still, alert, backs to us as they watch a nearby herd of springbok wandering by, clueless to the danger just a single pronk away. One of the cheetahs suddenly breaks cover. With a panicked snort a young springbok bolts like an arrow released from an archer’s bow. What follows is utterly thrilling.
The cheetah gathers speed, easing gracefully into her stride. We see her streaking through the grasses, body taut and muscled yet streamlined, elongated. Supremely elegant, every muscle works in harmony, she moves at a speed that’s breathtaking. It’s sheer poetry to watch. It seems as if the springbok’s fate is sealed, the distance between them has closed, the cheetah is steadily gaining ground. But, abruptly, she runs out of steam and the sprint is over. None of us can speak we’re so mesmerised by what we’ve seen. Eventually, the cheetah’s partner lopes slowly across to where the first one has abandoned the hunt. They sink down and the golden grasses close around them.
Full disclosure: the photos are all by Hirsh Aronowitz
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