This amazing cheetah encounter played out in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa. 4 cheetahs were not too happy to have a solo cheetah enter their territory…
Ria Van Greunen told their story: “The morning started off with us searching for lions at Sistas waterhole but we had no luck. Someone stopped next to us whilst we waited for the lions to arrive at the waterhole and told us there were cheetahs a bit further down the road. We slowly drove off to see if they were still there. The place was on the Mata Mata Road between Sistas and Craig Lochardt waterhole.
“We spotted the 4 cheetahs (nicknamed the 4 Musketeers) and one could see they were really big cheetahs. We first watched them doing their usual business of playing games, rolling around in the grass, soaking up the sun… They later lay down in the grass on the other side of the riverbed and were completely camouflaged in the surroundings.
“There were springboks in the river bed, so we waited to see if there might be an early morning kill. Another car stopped by and said there was a single cheetah on the other end of the river bend. This single cheetah is known as Corrine. At first, we thought it was one of the Musketeers who went off in chase of the springbok because it was very difficult to see them from where they were laying in the grass, but after I zoomed in with my video I saw the 4 Musketeers were still together.
“We waited but could not see Corrine anywhere. The springboks were close to where she was, so we knew if she was going to kill, it would be upwards towards the vicinity where the 4 Musketeers were laying.
“Corrine charged the springbok, but the attempt failed. The buck then ran off in the direction of the 4 Musketeers. They did not really know what was going on and tried to catch the springbuck running in and out amongst them. Clearly, they were not very happy knowing that Corrine was on their turf.
This is when they spotted her and in my heart, I knew what was going to happen next… They slowly started to walk towards her. There were already tears in my eyes.
“The 4 Musketeers then launched an attack on Corrine. You know that feeling, if I only can chase them away and help her, but she did not move away and the attack happened so quickly. When they first began to fight, she had made no effort to move and they attacked her 4 times with intervals of 2 to 4 minutes. The in-between times they were also licking their wounds not prepared to give up so easily.
“We heard calling sounds in the direction from where she started her chase. We thought maybe there were young ones nearby and assumed that this might be the reason as to why she did not move away from the fight, afraid they would kill the babies or youngsters. I asked some other people at our campsite if they also heard the calling noises and they confirmed it.
“She fought only with her upper body every time and never lifted her back from the ground. We thought they might have broken her lower back. One could see she had an open wound on her right foreleg and her mouth was also full of blood and she also had some ugly bite marks on her back.
“The Musketeers eventually left her alone. Later we drove off to Kamqua for a picnic, with mixed emotions, and I was afraid I don’t want to see how a hyena or any other wild creature rips her apart. I don’t think there was a person watching with us that was not emotionally involved.”