Pretoriuskop may not have the highest concentration of animals in the park, but you always get quality sightings there!
I checked the Sightings Board in camp regularly (in spite of the lack of coloured pins), and the very effective one at Phabeni Gate. It was obvious that there were 2 male cheetahs near the gate, a female cheetah near the crossing, and a male on the S3, just after the open plain with the dry waterhole, up to the Phabeni intersection.
So I got up very early, drove down that way at 4:30, and found the male cheetah on a cool, drizzly day. I should have done this the previous day, because he put up a lovely show of marking his territory. I told our neighbours about him, and early the next morning they found him in the same area again!
He was obviously hunting, or looking for other cheetahs, because most of the time he was staring into the distance…
He crossed the road (about 5 cars) between us, and then started marking his territory against a rock…
Then he jumped onto a fallen log, sniffed it for a long time, and kept staring…
Amazingly, he returned to the road, and started walking ahead of us. The tourists were very polite and all followed him at a very sedate pace, so he could even stand in the road and stare…
The highlight of the show was when he reached a forked tree. It was about 2m above the ground, but he sniffed and sniffed and started spraying this tree too!
After about 40 minutes the show ended as he slowly walked into the bush.
The S7 is such a short, nondescript little road that most people would tend to bypass it. Don’t! Do it regularly, and include Shabeni hill loop too.
Old scarface was peeping around the bush, trying his best to look sweet and attractive…
No wonder he was trying so hard, because she was so cute! He tried to smile, and fortunately her eyes were closed, because only a mother could love that face!
She was fascinating, and a very good specimen, very attractive.
After the games, she had to keep him at bay, because he was rather a nuisance!
That face says it all!
Meanwhile the lady was preening herself so that she would look at her best for him.
He stood around, angry and frustrated, and even the tail showed it!
We left them to the rude tour operator who cut in front of us and parked his vehicle within 2m of them. Fortunately not all of them are like that. The other operator (Eric) parked at a reasonable distance, and even told me where to look for cheetahs the next day!
Next morning everybody was sleepy, but by 4:30 I found myself on the S7 again. About 1 km from Shabeni hill the same lions were in the road again!
She was wide awake and as pretty as ever. In fact, I felt like stroking her! That alert look came when she heard the styrofoam balls rubbing against each other in my bean bag! It was long before sunrise, and I had to shoot with the 18-105mm lens @ 1/25 second.
She couldn’t help listening to me when I told her how lovely she was, but didn’t like too much eye contact, and averted her eyes shyly, just like my staffie Jock always used to do…
They crossed the road and she marked her territory, which he found very exciting to smell…
She would have nothing of him anymore, so he got dikbek and scowled at her!
That didn’t help, so he stood around in the grass, staring angrily at her. Look at those eyes!
She still couldn’t care, so he hid behind a few blades of grass and scowled some more!
Boooooring! She replied…
Like a good husband he confronted her for a little ``you and me’’ time, but her reply was another rude yawn!
Fluit-fluit, my storie is uit!
Hope you will have even better sightings at Pretoriuskop on your next visit!
Friedrich von Hörsten