Cheetah charges at photographer
This is the heart-stopping moment a wild cheetah came within five feet of a photographer when it CHARGED at him in the South African bush – but veered off at the last second.
The mammal mock-charged at snapper Clint Ralph in Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Pretoria, sprinting right towards his camera before veering off at a right angle only feet from him.
The father-of-two admitted his heart skipped a beat as the rapid animal shot towards him – but he was more than pleased with the resulting pictures.
The 53-year-old was with a park ranger watching cheetahs, buffalo and hyenas as they roamed the 3,800 hectare park.
Clint said: “It was an exceptional sight to behold. Usually you can tell when they’re only mocking but it’s still pretty frightening.
“She was probably about 10 feet away and out of nowhere she came directly at us. With about five feet to spare she turned 90 degrees and that was the end of it.
“It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. It was tricky enough to keep the camera still and push the shutter and keep the cheetah in focus.
“I just hoped for the best really. We had gone a little bit off the beaten and track and that’s when we saw the female coming towards us.
“I’ve been taking pictures part-time for about five years but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Clint, who runs his own cycling and waste management business, said the cheetah managed to look right down the lens of his camera as he backed away.
He said the stunning images that followed were the ‘highlight’ of his photography career.
Clint said: “I’ve taken a lot of pictures in the wild but you always want something that stands out. There certainly do.
“Part of me was thinking ‘bloody hell, I need to run away’ but part of me knew that really she wouldn’t harm me.
“They don’t really bother you if you keep your distance and don’t disturb them too much.
“I don’t know what it was that set her off this time, but I’m glad she turned away when she did.
“They’re marvellous animals and it’s a privilege to be able to see them up close.”