This male cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) was one of two brothers hand raised by handlers of the private reserve I stayed at for six days during a two-week trip to South Africa in 2011. Their mother had wandered into this area of land that bordered on the wilds and had given birth to her boys, but sadly not long after a lion had also entered into the area and killed the lady cheetah. Fortunately the lion remained unaware of the young cubs, which were rescued and became part of the reserve’s surrogate family.
These two brothers have free run of the place and are not at any time restricted to an enclosure, being that they are very well habituated to human contact. Though they are free to head off into the greater wilds they seem to prefer staying close to camp.
On a few mornings where I headed out for photography sessions with a couple of lion cubs and their handler, this cheetah and sometimes his brother would always tag along, and on the morning I captured this image he'd suddenly taken off to chase down a Guineafowl (a large African game bird), which he did with success, then brought it back to where we were to settle down for breakfast! I captured this frame moments after he'd finished it off.