Photo: The Great Swim

I found the following photo in a piece from Live Science ( and couldn’t resist sharing it. Below I have excerpted the article about the photo.

‘A stunning photo captures a group of cheetahs, the world’s fastest land sprinters, struggling to swim through a raging river in Kenya.

The group of male cheetahs was fording the Talek River in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in an effort to access better hunting grounds. The striking photo is one of the highly commended entries in the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Buddhilini de Soyza, an investment banker and amateur photographer, took the photo on a trip to Kenya in January 2020 while with her husband and a Maasai guide, after spending several hours watching the cheetahs pace up and down the river bank. Suddenly, the lead cheetah jumped into the water, and the rest followed.

“I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” de Soyza told Live Science. “I don’t actually remember clicking [the photo]. I obviously did because I’ve got a good 50, 60 shots of them crossing. All I do remember shouting is, ‘Oh my god what are they going to do? They’re going to die!”

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are strong swimmers, but like many cats can be hesitant around water. The river in the photo was rough following heavy rain and flooding, but the cheetahs needed to cross it to reach the larger side of their territory, which had more prey, according to de Soyza. She took the photo as the cheetahs hit the most turbulent part of the river. 

“I feel like the lead cheetah is talking to me,” de Soyza said of the photo. “He’s looking straight at me, so it almost feels like he’s just saying, ‘Put down that camera and help me.'” The river’s current dragged the cheetahs about 330 feet (100 meters) downstream, but they successfully made it across.’

What a wonderful capture!

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