Two cheetah brothers had just made a kill not far from Tintswalo—our luxury safari lodge near the Kruger National Park—and we could see the vultures circling and descending down into the bush.
As we arrived on the scene, the first vultures were already dotting down near the carcass. Their mischievous, bald heads stuck out the grass, as they eyed out the fresh meat.
We spent about 45 minutes watching the brothers tuck into the kill, and soon there were close to 50 vultures milling around. We could see the cheetahs were on edge. Other predators often watch vultures circling, as this leads them to scavenging opportunities…
Cheetahs are fairly low down on the food chain. This is why they must eat quickly.
The cheetah brothers knew that if they stayed any longer, they would run the risk of being surprised by a bigger predator—Hyena, lion or leopard—that could appear at any moment and snatch their meal, or worse: attack them.
About half-way through the carcass the vultures began to make their offensive.
Apprehensive at first, they moved towards the carcass and began to take cheeky pecks at the meat. The cheetah were not keen to leave, and one of the brothers charged the big birds and they flapped off in the cloud of dusty feathers. They were soon back, though, and the more that joined the barrage, the harder it got for the cheetah to hold their ground
The vultures kept on pushing until the cheetah had no other choice but to leave. The cats traipsed off with half-full bellies, leaving the spoiled to the winged scavengers.
It’s a tough life for a cheetah in the bush, but the harsh resistance of the African wilderness is what builds the strength and resilience they need for their next hunt.
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