Cheetahs Of The Northern Kruger National Park – Punda Maria Region
The Best Cheetah Sighting We Have Had
Cheetahs are not a common sighting in the Kruger National Park. There are only around 250 in the whole of the Kruger, and when you see them you should consider yourself very lucky. Sightings of Cheetahs are well known in the following areas:
- Crocodile Bridge
- Lower Sabie
We have been blessed to see the African Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) all over the Kruger National Park, but this story and adventure is about our best Cheetah sighting in the Kruger National Park, and in the most unlikely area.
Cheetahs In The Northern Kruger Park?
Yes, the headline says it all. When you think of Cheetah sightings, you think about the central and southern Kruger, not the north of the Park. The north of the Kruger is heavily underrated as a game viewing area, it is more well known by birders. This is not the case in my experience. Some of the best game viewing I have had is in the northern Kruger, from Mopani up to Pafuri. I have seen a Lion kill, Wild Dogs, Leopards, huge herds of Buffalo and Elephants, Eland, rare smaller creatures and lots of Tssesebe and Sharpe’s Grysbok.
A lot of Kruger lovers like to keep the northern Kruger a secret due to the lack of vehicles at sightings and the amazing roads that are available to drive. I am making it public! The north is arguably the best area to see a variety of animals, and as a birder, this is what first drove me to stay at places like Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Sirheni and so on.
The Cheetah Sighting!
We woke up at 3.30am on a warm December morning, and got ready to leave Punda Maria Gate at 4.30am. We decided to drive the H13-1, as the day before we drove the S60 and were lucky enough to see a lone Wild Dog. But anyway, it was a quiet morning, hardly any birds and not much sign of life. We turned onto the H1-8 and a few kilometres we laid our eyes on 2 animals. At first I thought they were Impala (They were quite far away walking in the tar road), then we got closer and I though to myself, those are cats! My mind then went racing, and I thought to myself “it must be Leopard”, because seeing a Cheetah in the north is very uncommon.
To my complete surprise, as we got closer, we confirmed, that these 2 animals were in fact Cheetah brothers! We were so excited and over the moon. And as you are in the north in general, we were the only car, and the only car for the whole sighting. We watched them as they walked down the road, constantly on the move, scent marking and scaring off a few Impala, they must have eaten recently as they were not interested in hunting.
Then one of the Cheetahs jumped onto a sign at Elandskuil waterhole. A perfect photo opportunity. What a pleasure! They stuck around Elandskuil for a while and then continued down the road. They came to a private road where they also proceeded to jump on the No Entry sign, and made another spectacle for us.
We took over 150 photographs, and below you will find the video of this amazing sighting. We were with them for about 5 kilometres or so, until they ventured off the road and finished scent marking. They disappeared into the long grass and they were gone. It was an hour of pure bliss, and the situation, the action and everything will make this a sighting hard to beat, especially considering it was 2 male Cheetahs!
I love the Kruger National Park so much!
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