By Anne Hilborn, Apr 18 2016 12:48AM
With the unseasonal rains, the herds of zebra and wildebeest turned up in the Seronera area again. The zebra came first, and suddenly the place smelt like a horse barn. Now I've always considered yearling wildebeest to be the largest prey that cheetahs go for, but an afternoon spent with two young males exploded that idea. These are two young but hunky males that suddenly turned up south of Apollo and Bacchus's territory. They were in long unburned grass and they took advantage of the cover to bring down a zebra, and not a small zebra either, but a 3/4 size one. The next day they were almost obscenely fat, and the when I found them they were sitting on a termite mound, being stared at by a semi circle of wary zebra.
Zebra staring at cheetahs full of zebra
The wildebeest turned up a bit later, providing a bonanza for Apollo and Bacchus. I spent a couple of days with them and learned a bit about their routine. It started with a lot of sleeping. Then at some point they would rouse themselves and start walking slowly towards the river, peeing on every tree that happened to be in their way.
Bonding through coordinated scent marking
. Once at the river a whole cluster of cars would inevitably surround them and I would curse to myself about my blocked view, about animal harassment and any other charge I could think of to lay at the feet of the tourists. However the cheetahs were fairly undisturbed, making their slow way across the river and up to the plains on the other side where they sat and inspected the available wildebeest offerings.
Crossing the main road in Seronera to get to the wildebeest on the other side
I watched them take down an adult wildebeest one afternoon, and a hell of a fight it was. One of them was doing all the hard work at the dangerous front end. The end with the horns and hooves and the real risk of trampling and goring. Meanwhile the other one was nibbling daintily and unhelpfully on a back leg. Eventually he figured his brother might actually need some help, so he moved around and grappled with the front end as well. The wildebeest succumbed fairly quickly after that.
Apollo and Bacchus got to eat a decent amount of the carcass before a hyena came in. They surrendered it without much of a fuss, being pretty fat already.
A nice easy meal for a hyena.