We’ll start with three raptor photos from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, and then proceed to the cats.
First we have a Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni):
Then a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis):
And a Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus):
Reader John sent some cheetah photos and notes (indented):
Following your recent call for photographs I decided to dig out some of a feline variety. The attached were taken in 2004 in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The Kruger is SA’s largest ‘park’ at 20,000km2 – about the size of New Jersey. Its size means that it doesn’t have the feel of a park and if you wander of the beaten track, you can spend many hours exploring the bush or siting by waterholes without seeing many other visitors. The trip was not long after I made the switch to a Canon 300D, an early digital SLR; up to that point having been reluctant to discard traditional film. The sharp eyed will notice I hadn’t quite got to grips with the auto focus.
This Cheetah crossed a dirt track in front of our vehicle and then spent some time in a small tree sharpening its claws whilst also keeping a watchful eye on us.
It then wandered into the scrub, which was quite lush because it was December and the rainy season. Shortly afterwards it reappeared from the bush and walked slowly alongside the track as we inched our vehicle along and took photographs.
It was clearly mindful of our presence but otherwise carried on as usual including regularly marking its territory.
Later during the same holiday my daughter was lucky enough to enter an enclosure and spend some time petting a Cheetah!
(Professor Ceiling Cat doesn’t ever get to do that. . . )
I’ve been lucky enough to see wild cheetah a number of times but sadly, on a trip to the Okavango in 1988, I have also seen the darker side with Cheetah skins hanging in a tannery in Maun. I’ll spare you the depressing image.