Monday, December 31, 2012

End of Story

Sunday morning at 5:15, Erin, Anja, and I met and drove out to where we'd been leaving meat in hopes of luring in Pride so we could exchange her radio collar for one that worked. No sign of her at the site--the meat was still there and no paw prints. We waited for about 30 minutes, walked up and down the road, called for her, drank some coffee, watched the sun rise.

Erin said she wanted to drive the area, so she and Anja sat in the truck cab while I stood in the back of the truck. We all scanned the area as we drove, and I called and called for her

We drove slowly so if she heard us she'd have time to come to the road. At 7:15 I heard the amazing and wonderful three words I'd been waiting to hear. Erin yelled, "There she is!" Sure enough, running to us through the high grass came Pride, followed closely by her two cubs, Merci and Denga.

Erin hit the brakes and bolted from the car. She met Pride halfway, crouched down, and gave her a big hug. Notice the cubs coming in the background. It was an emotional moment.

Then it was cuddle time. Pride jumped into the back of the truck and let us all fuss over her--kiss, hug, pet, and coo to her--and eventually change her collar. Through it all she purred. She seemed as happy as we were to find each other.

Her cubs were born wild, so we don't touch them. They see Pride interact with us but stay a respectable distance, hissing if we get too close. As it should be.

We spent 90 minutes with them, watching the cubs wrestle and tumble. They explored the truck, eventually both getting in the front seats. Suddenly Merci hissed--she had caught sight of herself in the rearview mirror and thought it was another cheetah!

Denga on roof
It was so wonderful. Pride and both cubs looked fit and healthy. Erin said they looked better than she had ever seen them. It was clear Pride's hunting had been successful lately.

Merci and Denga through the windshield
Finally, we felt we had to leave and take the happy news to everyone back at the lapa and office. As we drove away, all three were lounging alonside the road in the shade. Chapter closed!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't imagine a more perfect story with which to end 2012!