Part 4…Cheetah Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“A cheetah’s food tastes are not as broad as that of the leopard, and it concentrates mostly on small and medium antelope. The cheetah’s diet comprises of the young of larger animals, as well as warthog, ground birds, porcupines, and hares, as well as the smaller antelope.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Stretching cheetah!  

Note:  Most of today’s captions have been taken from this site.

It’s almost 1600 hours (4:00 pm), and I’ve just begun to write the text for today’s post. We’ve had a hectic day. This morning after the four of us was showered and dressed for the day, we jumped into the little car and headed to Komatipoort and Lebombo to shop and have breakfast at Stoep Cafe.
“While the lion and the leopard rely on getting close to their intended prey before breaking cover, the cheetah’s speed gives it an advantage in the more open savanna. Cheetahs are slightly taller than leopards but not as bulky, probably weighing between 40kg and 60kg. Although cheetahs are members of the cat family, they have dog-like non-retractable claws. This limits their tree-climbing ability but gives them a speed advantage when charging.”
We were excited to share the great experience and good dining at this special little place located shortly upon entering the town of Komatipoort. Plus, the trip down the road to Lebombo is culturally enjoyable, as is Komatipoort, jammed with locals, mulling about their day.
“Typically, a cheetah will start a charge 60m to 100m from an antelope and, within seconds, will be racing at full tilt. If the buck is alerted in time, it will attempt to throw the cheetah off its trail by zigzagging and dodging between trees and shrubs. Using its long, heavy tail as a stabilizer, the cheetah will single-mindedly pursue its intended prey, trying to anticipate which way it will turn.”
It appears that most of the local’s activities center around selling and purchasing various foodstuffs, including that which may consist of bartering, negotiating and generally striving to make their purchases affordable.
“At the right moment, it will knock the antelope off balance and grab it by the throat as it falls. Because of the relatively small jaws and teeth, cheetahs are not as effective in killing their prey as quickly as lions or leopards, and it can take between five and 25 minutes for its prey to die.
After the excellent breakfast, we drove to Lebombo to purchase carrots, apples, pears, and eggs for the wildlife. We didn’t have room in the car to acquire more pellets, and with almost two 40 kg bags left, we could have enough to get us through the next several days.
“The element of surprise in hunting is as important for cheetahs as it is for other big predators. While its speed gives it an edge, the cheetah’s vulnerable point is its stamina. It will manage to run at top speed for only about 250m before it needs to catch its breath.”
Tom and Lois appear to be having the time of their lives. It couldn’t be going any better. These past few days, we had the most wildlife visits on the weekend than we’ve had on any weekend since we arrived in Marloth Park last February.
“After a high-speed chase, the cheetah desperately needs to rest for about half an hour – even before it eats its prey. This is when cheetahs are at their most vulnerable. They are often robbed of their kill by lions or hyaenas during this recovery spell. If the cheetah is unmolested, it normally devours its prey at the kill site.”
The animals have been coming in droves in the most literal sense, one delicate species after another. We only need to wait for a short period, and another herd, dazzle, band, flock, harem, etc., will magically appear, leaving us all squealing with delight, cameras in hand as we make the sightings memorable.
“The cheetah’s body is built for speed. Its legs are relatively long compared to its greyhound-like body; it has a big heart and lungs and wide nasal passages. It is the fastest land animal, timed running at speeds of up to 114km/hour.”
Besides all the fantastic companionship, conversation, and laughter, part of the fun of having them here with us is the unmistakable joy of seeing their delight and enthusiasm in having these exceptional experiences one after another.  
“The cheetah’s kill rate is hard to determine, but the consensus is that each cheetah kills between 30 and 150 animals a year, depending on its size, hunting frequency, and the condition of the area. Experts believe a single cheetah ideally needs between one and three kilograms of meat a day to stay in shape.”
We’ve yet to be disappointed in anything we’ve done, except one unpleasant dining experience in a local restaurant/bar on Friday night after our perfect day in Kruger National Park, where we sighted the “Ridiculous Nine.”
“There has been some scientific discussion as to whether they should be classified as part of the dog family because of their non-retractable claws, but they exhibit too many cat-like features, including the ability to purr loudly. Cheetahs cannot roar but growl and spit like a cat, and sometimes they make a peculiar chirping noise.” 
And now, as we continue sharing photos from our outrageous safari, today we focus on Friday’s sighting of two cheetahs that added so much to our breathtaking game drive.  
“Unlike lions and leopards, cheetah don’t define a territory to defend. They have a home range that they mark with urine but will not actively fight off other cheetahs. Socially, cheetahs are somewhere on the scale between lions and leopards. They do not form prides as lions do, but small groups of between four and six cheetahs can be common, particularly groupings of brothers. Cheetah probably lives for between 12 and 15 years in the wild. Unlike most other major carnivores, they hunt during the day.”
This week, we plan to do a self-drive in Kruger, most likely on Wednesday, with a relatively early start to the day once again. This time with no time constraints, we’ll be able to spend more time dining at the Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie and focusing on the wildlife we find most interesting.
“Despite their speed, cheetahs still rely heavily on the element of surprise. Experts believe that a cheetah has a one-in-10 chance of catching an animal that isn’t taken by surprise and that this rises to a one-in-two chance if the quarry is caught off-guard. Cheetahs are the timidest of the big cats, and there is no record in southern Africa of a cheetah ever having attacked a human.”
After we returned to the house after today’s outing and putting everything away, we parked ourselves at the big table on the veranda. At the same time, each of us focused on our photos and documenting our experiences.

Tonight, we’ll dine in, having pizza and salad one more night, a dinner everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, I can no longer eat pizza due to lactose intolerance, so I’d made myself a big mackerel salad consisting of canned mackerel, chopped hard-boiled eggs, onions, celery, red and yellow bell peppers with a homemade dressing. It was delicious enough to keep me from drooling over the smell of the pizza.

May you have a pleasant evening!
Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2017:
The hydrangeas in the courtyard of the Costa Rica property were gorgeous. For more photos, please click here.

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