Day three dawned bright and clear and after breakfast we headed off into new territory. As we'd seen four of the Big Five - elephant, rhino, lion (and buffalo which I haven't posted about) - the previous two days, we were on a quest to find the fifth animal: leopard. Note: The phrase Big Five was coined by white hunters now known as trophy hunters, and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. The term is still used in most tourist sand guides on African wildlife safaris. The collection consists of the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. The members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, rather than their size.
We travelled along another lesser used roads which yielded many other animals and of course, scores of birds which we regularly stopped to photograph.
Along the road we met a giraffe. This was the closest we'd been to "Miss Skinny" that I just had to show the gracious animal off again
Travelling around peering upwards into trees and through the forests near the road, to see if we could spot a leopard, instead in the distance, we saw a group of tour operator vehicles converging on one spot in the veld. Sue had told me that if we saw vehicles congregated in a place, we should go and take a look. Which is what we did. When we finally managed to get nearer to the spot, we were delighted to see two cheetahs resting on a mound. I clicked away thinking that my photos wouldn't be worth a jot (wildlife photography is a profession!) but when I downloaded them, I was thrilled to see I had quite a few very clear photos of the trademark "teardrops" and the soft, rounded features of this cat.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), the fasted animal on earth
The top speed man has run is about 25miles/40 kms per hour; the fastest dog, the greyhound, reaches a speed of 40miles/64kms per hour; racehorses have been timed at 50 miles/80kms per hour; and antelopes can go close to 60 miles /96 kms per hour.
But none of them can come close to the world’s fastest runner, the cheetah. No animal on earth can outrun the cheetah’s 70 miles/112kms per hour speed.
(to be continued)