March 16, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
The Law Of The Wild says kill only when you are hungry. Photographer Michel Denis-Huot, who captured these amazing pictures on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara in October last year, said he was astounded by what he saw:
“These three brothers (cheetahs) have been living together since they left their mother at about 18 months old,’ he said. ‘On the morning we saw them, they seemed not to be hungry, walking quickly but stopping sometimes to play together. ‘At one point, they met a group of impala who ran away.. But one youngster was not quick enough and the brothers caught it easily’.”
These extraordinary scenes followed.
The images, which ran in the Daily Mail, show the cheetahs playing with the impala and the sequence ends with the impala running away, you assume to safety and a happy ending. But that’s not the whole story. When you look at Denis-Huot’s website, he posts the entire series, which ends with the big cats eating the impala. Sorry, no Disney ending here.
The picture sequence shows how complicated the animal world really is, and how often we want to simplify it by putting our own human vision on it. Cheetahs are hunters at heart, and those in the pictures probably didn’t kill the impala right away because they weren’t so hungry, or because it was a different time of the day than when they usually hunt, or for some other reason. Many animals, though, show kindness, and even to people. There are sometimes reports of dolphins rescuing fishermen from capsized boats, and there was even one recently about a pod of dolphins helping a lost dog. Naturalists like Bernd Heinrich have written about how ravens will share food with each other in the dead of winter, and scientists Frans de Waal have studied how primates will help their sick and take care of their elders. We may have a lot in common with animals, but we also need to respect them for who they are, not for what we think they are. This is a truth that I discover, and share with you, on so many of my BigAnimals trips.