‘Springbok to the right and me right here - Kalahari cheetah’
Pastel on Supertooth paper
Image size 98 x 54cm
In 2018 I travelled to experience some of the central Kalahari environment. I had dipped into the Southern Kalahari before but this was my first experience of that almost mythically beautiful place which has haunted my imagination since I first read about the San people as a young boy. But nothing can really prepare you for the untrammelled and wild beauty of countless sand ridges and parallel valleys that make up mile after mile of this paradoxical, mostly treeless desert country…..desert yes…but also covered in waving grasses in the cooler times of the yearly cycle.
The wildlife tends to concentrate in the shallow valleys where the only surface water is to be found between the limestone-capped, red sandy ridges and it was there we met this mother and cub…… mum focussed intently on an approaching herd of springbok and her cub simply found our vehicle and the strange creatures in it too interesting to ignore.
I was struck by the intense focus of both creatures with eyes that can locate prey 5 kms away. Natural when you consider that they are primarily sight hunters who must rely on stealth and supreme speed to secure their prey. They need to be able to scan for uneven ground and anything that could disturb the trajectory of their lightning sprint. The dark ‘tear markings’ help absorb reflected light during the day which assists them to see their prey clearly.