After my day-to-day activities of patrolling my area to collect data on wildlife, l usually take a few minutes to interact with my community members. I get updates on unique sightings encountered while they graze their livestock. These after-work conversations help inform me on what areas to prioritize during my random walking patrol the following morning.
One evening, a herder called and narrated how he saw small spotted babies but he wasn't sure if they were cheetahs or leopards. The herder seemed very content with his report and had marked the location where the spotted babies were. The following morning, the herder guided me to where the babies were. It was quite a distance and we approached a gulley, the herder pointed down only for me to see a beautiful female cheetah. The female cheetah was nursing six cubs that were nicely hidden from the brutal sun. The experience was unique as I had never seen a cheetah with so many cubs before.
Great moments are only captured by good photos. Therefore, I was concerned about capturing a good photo of the mum and the babies without scaring them away. It was difficult but the first of its own and no one in our area has ever captured cheetahs in a photo due to their shyness.
The report by the herder was very fulfilling not only to the community but also made me proud of my work as a field officer. We continue to raise awareness about the cheetahs in the area to promote the conservation of predators in a shared ecosystem.