Meet Shingo and her six cubs. I followed these remarkable Cheetahs in 2010 for two weeks during which I watched enthralled as a succession of dramas and near-death situations played out on the short grass plains of the Masai Mara. But above all, Shingo was an almost perfect mother, constantly watching over her cubs and leading them from danger. On several occasions she put her own life on the line as she chased Lions and Hyenas away, even jumping on the back of a large Hyena in one encounter (missed that image!). She was also capable of moments of great tenderness and devotion to the cubs. All six of the cubs survived to adulthood, an incredible feat given that on average only 5% of individual cubs typically do so.
I took this image one evening shortly after a heavy rain shower. The light was low and even with the ISO pushed to 2,500 I was working at only 1/160th of a second. But this worked in my favour, allowing more of the spray to be visible. It’s by no means a perfect image and I wish all the cubs were looking my way, but it’s ended up being easily my best-selling photo. It was also the best-selling image in the Cheetah Conservation Fund charity exhibition in London in October 2015. A Nature’s Best commended image in 2011.
Canon 5D MK2, Canon 600mm f4 IS II lens, 1/160th sec, F4, ISO 2,500, bean bag on vehicle side