Mother’s Courage: Brave Cheetah Protects Her Cubs from a Prowling Leopard

A photographer has captured a cheetah mother’s plucky defense of her cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya, which borders the Serengeti.

Paul Goldstein was guiding last month when he spotted the stand-off when a leopard took an interest in the family.

The cheetah, known as Amani translating to Peace, faced the threat head-on, and dramatically tried to wear the large female leopard out before it could attack.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour, and while running they can cover four strides in a second with each stride measuring up to 24ft.

Wimbledon-based Paul said: ‘Recently, in the heart of Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy, I saw something I can still scarcely believe.’

Paul was guiding for Exodus Travels when he snapped the stand-off.

The cheetah mother Amani (Peace) bravely confronts the leopard and slowly exhausts its energy Cheetah defends cubs from leopard, Masai Mara, Kenya

Cheetah mother Amani (Peace) and cubs pictured earlier in the day Cheetah defends cubs from leopard, Masai Mara, Kenya

The cheetah mother Amani (Peace) sends the leopard packing after chasing it away from her cubs

The cheetah and the leopard come face to face in the stand off in Masai Mara in Kenya

The cheetah, known as Amani (Peace), flashes her huge fangs at the advancing leopard as another big cat watches on

Paul Goldstein was guiding for Exodus Travels last month when he spotted the stand-off when a leopard took an interest in the family

Mr Goldstein said: ‘Amani (Peace) is a cheetah I am very familiar with having spent many game drives with her in this most beautiful part of East Africa.

‘She is a good mother and an excellent hunter, but this particular morning, only a few minutes from camp, something was clearly concerning her.

‘A quick check with the binoculars from my guide and friend Joseph Sengeny from Kicheche Mara Camp confirmed a large female leopard very interested in her and more importantly, her two sub adult cubs.’

‘Leopards and cheetahs, whilst not quite the mortal enemies of lions and hyenas, are still never seen together, so this was a remarkable display of territorial parenting skills by the lighter, but faster cheetah.

‘This mother lost her infant brood of five cubs last year to hyenas and she was in no mood to see her two go the same way to this powerful adversary.

‘Goaded by the cheetah’s advances, the leopard descended from its arboreal stronghold and battle lines were drawn.

‘The cheetah’s ploy was clear – get close enough to goad the opponent, but with her superior acceleration, stay just out of the way of those potentially fatal claws.

‘After around five rounds the leopard moved off and the cheetah re-united with her young charges.’

‘Joseph said, “I have never seen anything like this”, and as shell-shocked as I was, fortunately it being in a precious Conservancy it was not marred by too many vehicles.

‘Joseph has about 10,000 game drives to his name so when he says something like this it carries weight.

‘Life is incredibly tough for cheetahs for so many different reasons, from land encroachment to hyenas, jackals and lions, but rarely if at all leopards, so to witness an extended bout like this was utterly extraordinary and with a satisfying outcome. ‘

The cheetah faced the threat head-on, and dramatically tried to wear the large female leopard out before it could attack

Cheetah mother Amani (Peace) and cubs pictured safe and well a day after the stand-off with the leopard Cheetah defends cubs from leopard, Masai Mara, Kenya

Leopard surveys whereabouts of cheetah family from security of tree as the mother watches it carefully

The cheetah mother Amani (Peace) faces off against the leopard waiting in the tree Cheetah defends cubs from leopard, Masai Mara, Kenya

The leopard admits defeat and gives one last glance at its cheetah foe Cheetah defends cubs from leopard

Sia

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