The Show Begins at 5…

the boys

Set at Hongonyi Game Lodge

We came across the cheetah boys (Pakisha & Gijima) on an afternoon drive (27/2) – they were lying in a small clearing among some thorn trees, relaxing with VERY full stomachs after having stuffed themselves eating the Impala ram they had brought down. Lying like typical cats, they hardly even raised their heads to look at us as we pulled up near to them.

(Am thinking of changing their names to Fifa & World Cup – with full stomachs like that, they look as if they have swallowed footballs!)

We enjoyed observing them doing nothing for a while, and were about to move off when a black-backed jackal appeared on the edge of the scene. Gijima saw him, and flattened his ears, looking at the jackal with a fierce scowl. The jackal wisely ignored the cat, and lay down under a nearby thorn tree.

After a short interval, the jackal got a bit braver, and edged closer to the carcass. Gijima was lying between the jackal and the leftovers, so he again raised his head, and gave a low growl, with his ears plastered flat on his head.

Once again, the jackal lay down.

On the jackal’s third attempt to sneak closer, Gijima suddenly leapt to his feet and ran towards the jackal, snarling and spitting, and throwing sand with a batting motion of his front paws. Once the dust had settled, we could see the jackal back in position under the thorn tree, and Gijima had again taken up his prone position by the Impala carcass. While all this was happening, Pakisha only lifted his head once to see what the commotion was, otherwise all he did was contemplate the inside of his eyelids!

A few minutes later, Gijima had to repeat the chasing business all over again – this time making sure to send a bit more sand in the jackal’s direction.

Now, with the jackal hovering in the wings, the two boys decided to have a bit more to eat. Pakisha got up and started gnawing on some ribs, while Gijima stationed himself on guard, keeping a very watchful eye on the jackal. The jackal moved a little closer, so Gijima went into a threatening crouch, and started making a pawing motion with the front leg closest to the carcass. If the jackal retreated, the pawing stopped, if it came forward the pawing increased in tempo, accompanied by a very low growling. So it went on for a while, until the jackal “got bored” and moved off.

Gijima then settled to have a nibble on the meat. All was peaceful for a few minutes, silent apart from the satisfied crunching and chewing.

Then we saw that the jackal had approached from a different angle – this time closer to Pakisha, who immediately sent him packing with a short sprint in his direction. As soon as the cheetah lay down ,the jackal came back, having seen a small chunk of meat lying separate from the carcass, but quite close to Gijima. Once again Pakisha sent him on his way with a swift run in his direction, and a swat of the paw for good measure ( the closest you see to animal sign language – a good couple of swear words thrown in the jackal’s general direction!)

Pakisha lay down, the jackal moved closer. Gijima swore at the jackal this time, then resumed eating. Like lightning, the jackal bolted in and grabbed the chunk of meat, flying off to the thorn-bush as soon as the prize was in his jaws. Both cats hurled some insults in his direction, but the jackal was unfazed.

As the cats remained focused on the carcass, the jackal tried coming in from around a different bush. No luck! Next he moved a bit to the other side, still no joy. By now he was making a grunting sound that any self-respecting Warthog would have been proud of! The cheetahs were not impressed. They both told him in no uncertain terms to “get lost!*” (* Words have been changed to protect sensitive readers!)

The jackal now nipped around to the other side, under an overhanging branch that afforded him a little more protection. He now tried a completely different strategy. He tried asking the cheetahs to share with him. He begged. He pleaded. He bowed. He yipped. He moaned. He grunted. He twirled in circles.

He danced a jig. He hopped from foot to foot. He moaned and grunted and twirled and danced. And what did the cheetahs do? Absolutely nothing! They had their own private dinner & cabaret show and they didn’t even watch!

Poor jackal. Tonight’s audience was very hard to please. Not even a scrap of applause., or even a morsel thrown in his direction. (We were enjoying ourselves immensely of course, watching the show that had been provided for us!)

When we eventually left, in search of the rhino this time, the jackal was lying patiently under the original thorn-bush, pretending that he didn’t have a care in the world, and all the time of the ages to wait his turn. Clever Jackal. He did eventually get his share, and was last seen carting a leg-of-ram off home for dinner.

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