Patsy the cheetah tastes freedom…but not without some coaxing!
Picture the scene: A slightly sunburned, blonde Brit crouched in the back of a pick-up truck (or a bakkie if you come from around here) holding both a DSLR with a weighty lens and a Canon PowerShot with a hefty zoom in one hand and a rope in the other hand. You know those 20m or so plastic type ropes? Well, one of those – green and white if you are wondering – that has been looped through a cut in the hind-leg of an impala carcass.
Now, I can almost hear you wondering how on earth I (or indeed anyone) had found myself in this situation. The answer, of course, is that together with the team, I was trying to tempt a female cheetah we were set to release whilst also hoping to document this exciting moment!
The outcome was not exactly what we had hoped for. Things started out well. We had got the attention of the female cheetah, Patsy, to her friends, and I had managed to catch a few shots of her as she started to follow us around the enclosure.
Sure, we hit a couple of bumps along the road when the impala carcass got stuck on all the citrus trees in the enclosure (and there are a lot of them). But all round we felt positive about how things were progressing. At one point, Patsy even picked up the impala in her mouth but on discovering she couldn’t simply drag it away she became an increasingly suspicious cheetah. Undeterred, we inched ever closer to the open gate and to Patsy’s freedom.
For the fastest mammal on the planet, Patsy followed us agonizingly slowly, stopping to rest in the shade of her favourite orange trees and continuously assessing our intentions. We passed her inspections, barely, and finally, we (and our sad impala comrade) were through the gate! We deposited our hairy friend about 7m from the gate and snuck off into the distance to watch Patsy take the bait. Or, as it happened, to watch Patsy lie in the shade about half a metre from the gate and show no inclination whatsoever to go through it…
Find out what happened next on the Garonga blog: https://www.garonga.com/blog/2018/09/11/patsy-the-cheetah-tastes-freedom/