Starting with the most amazing scenic flight over the rock desert to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, you can’t help yourself but take dozens of pictures of the intricately patterned landscapes below. We arrived at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and went on an afternoon drive down the spectacular Hoanib Riverbed. We caught up with two of the desert lionesses just before sunset, had great sightings of giraffe, springbok, oryx, desert elephant and Augur buzzards and spent a few intimate minutes with a young spotted eagle owl.
We were making our way slowly back to camp when we spotted a female cheetah with her cub. Observing them we could see that they clearly had interests in the nearby springbok. The female cheetah had been collared as part of a new research project to find out more about the elusive desert-adapted cheetah that survive in this stark and unique environment.
The cheetah proceeded to stalk a herd of springbok but had been spotted already, so they ran across the open and around the back of an outcrop of rocks to get a bit closer to the herd unseen. We didn’t think she would even attempt to hunt as the springbok were on full alert and still very far away. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon she decided it was time and streaked out into the open towards the springbok herd. She singled out one large springbok ram and quickly closed ground, chasing him in a wide loop and then closer towards the vehicle.
Photography was challenging due to the extremely low light conditions but amazingly they kept coming towards us and the wind was blowing the dust in just the right direction. She brought down the springbok about 100 m from the vehicle and then her cub joined her and had a bit of practice killing the springbok for a second time and playing with it for a while. We decided to leave them to their dinner and headed back for ours, now with huge smiles on our faces… Hoanib Skeleton Coast… what an incredible place!
Written and Photographed by Kai Collins, Group Conservation Manager, Wilderness Safaris