Mashatu Game Reserve is in south east Botswana adjacent to the Tuli circle. Today, Tuli is a village in Zimbabwe which forms the centre of a circle described by a 10-mile radius. The Tuli village was the base for early poineers into the then Rhodesia. The circumference of circle was described by the radius of the canon’s firing range which was positioned in the camp at the Tuli village. The southern half of the Tuli circle stretches south of the Shashe River into Botswana.
“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Despite being a dry area for most of the year, this is an area of prolific wildlife and birdlife. We are fortunate enough to be involved in a private syndicate operating in Mashatu. One of the special features of Mashatu is its leopards but the cheetahs are also thriving in this private game reserve.
On our first afternoon game drive we found one of the female cheetahs with four sub-adult cubs. It was dusk, it was dry and dusty. The cubs were clearly tired.
The cheetah mother was ever alert. This is the the inbetween time when the day time hunters are looking for a place to sleep safely and the nocturnal hunters are just starting to get moving.
Stop for a moment and think how stressful it must be as a cheetah mother trying to constantly stay alert and keep your little ones alive. Surprises are dangerous and can be deadly in the bush. I am always so impressed with their independence and self-reliance.
“The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.” ~ Nancy Newhall
The next day, mid-morning and we found this lone cheetah male who had just killed an impala ram. It was hot and the kill was out in the blazing sun. This male was panting heavily. As all cheetahs do, they rest for a short while to catch their breath and then tuck in to their kill because of the high probability of it being stolen.
This male cheetah has started to feed and opened up the soft underbelly but he was clearly very hot and did not look under nourished so he just stood assessing what the odds were and tryed to decide what to do next.
Eventually he decided to retreat into the shade of a Shepherd tree. It was too hot and he was too tired to drag the kill into the shade. I always marvel at bush cats’ ability to lie on rough stoney ground in apparent comfort.
“The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.” ~ Joseph Wood Krutch
Wild animals do not seem to have regrets or harbour their thoughts on what might have been. They take stock of the area and start looking for the next opportunity.
The four sub-adults were in prime condition, testament to an excellent mother. It would not be too long before they would be abandoned by their mother, as her teaching would be done. True empowerment with consequences!
But for now the shade and the company would do just fine while they regrouped and waited for the next opportunity to present itself.
These sub-adults looked relaxed but they were still alert and as soon as a distinct sound was heard they all turned around to locate it.
I watch wild mothers and see how they protect their young as best they can and even more importantly they empower their young and teach them the way of the world to ensure they can survive on their own.
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
“We must not only protect the country side and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities … Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.
Have fun, Mike