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Brave mother tackles two male cheetahs as she tries to save her piglets

Cheetahs are used to being at the top of the food chain, but in the wild even the hunter can quickly become the hunted.

These pictures taken on the plains of the Savuti channel in northern Botswana show two male cheetahs who got more than they bargained for while feasting on a young warthog.

Preparing for a post-feeding nap, the two predators were startled into retreat as a mother warthog determined to protect her young launched an attack on them. Guide and photographer Lee Wittham, who was leading a tour at the time, said: ‘The mother warthog had three piglets to start with and the cheetah managed to get one.

‘Cheetah are rather timed and as soon as something challenges them they usually retreat for fear of injury. ‘If they injure themselves they cannot hunt and will die as a result.’ Lasting around 15 minutes, the sparring match produced a rare sight as the diminutive warthog tried in vain to save the doomed piglet.

‘The images are interesting because it shows that the tables can turn on the predators and they don’t always have it their way as is the common perception by most people,’ Mr Wittham said. ‘The cheetah will regularly hunt small warthogs but it isn’t often that you get to see the bravery that the mother shows whilst trying to defend her offspring.’

Despite the mother’s frantic efforts, the cheetahs eventually returned to finish their kill. Mr Wittham added: ‘Eventually the cheetahs got their reward and the mother had to resign herself to the fact that she had lost one of her piglets. ‘The mother warthog remained in the area for some time and actually returned to the site of the kill later that day and sniffed around as if looking for her missing piglet.’

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