Article by Arthur Edward Ahrens
A student photographer since September 2018, I regularly visit the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Pretoria to take photos. Although it’s not a recognised SAN Parks Reserve, it’s well known for having a variety of wildlife, among them cheetahs: An adult female cheetah (and later a male) was introduced to the reserve. Later, four cheetah cubs were born and raised to a point where they could hunt for themselves.
On 21 February 2019, I headed out to the reserve once more. It was a typical Gauteng summers afternoon with high humidity and threatening thunderstorms. As I arrived, several visitors were fleeing from the heavy rain.
After a 2 km or so drive, I found the four young cheetahs sheltering under a nearby tree. They were wet and huddled together for warmth. Occasionally, they licked each other and tried shaking off excess rainwater.
I myself struggled to keep dry and resorted to covering my lens with a plastic sleeve and opening my car window only slightly. The rain eventually stopped and the young cheetahs stood up, yawned, stretched some and began to move around. They made little effort at concealing themselves from the wildebeest, blesbuck and zebras on the high ground behind them.
I made a U-turn and went up a side road catching only glimpses of one cheetah. At a long distance, I could only watch a young cheetah stalk and chase a blesbuck, but the cheetah was unsuccessful. A few minutes later, three cheetahs moved back towards the location where I found them first. I immediately drove back and managed to take photos of them before settling down in the long grass. I kept wondering where the fourth cheetah was? I kept my camera ready and rechecked my ISO settings (since the light kept changing due to overhanging clouds) and reviewed my previous photos.