We spoke to Emmy award winning wildlife cinematographer Bob Poole about his thrilling new documentary Man Among Cheetahs - part of Nat Geo Wild’s Big Cat Week.
Here’s why he thinks you’re going to fall in love with mother cheetah Naborr and her litter of young cubs.
It’s a tough life out there for cheetahs
Cheetahs may be the fastest land mammals, but their lives can be incredibly tough. Bob discovered this first-hand when following Naborr and her cubs.
“With cheetahs they are one of the big cats but also one of the underdogs. They have a hard time defending their prey – which includes other cheetahs and bigger cats like lions. Lions will take the food they’ve hunted off of them, hyenas are a big problem, they not only take the cheetahs food but they will kill the cubs as well,” Bob told us.
Cheetahs make fantastic mothers
You’ll have a newfound appreciation for cheetah mothers says Bob.
“I learned just how dependent and vulnerable the cubs are, they depend completely on their mom. The cubs will be having a great time, playing together, and suddenly a super danger is introduced. But as soon as the danger is over, they are back to playing. They would be absolutely helpless out there without their moms.”
You’ll find yourself rooting for them
Even a seasoned wildlife cinematographer such as Bob found himself becoming emotionally attached to Naborr and her babies, but of course he knew that as a documentary maker he couldn’t intervene.
“It’s so hard! When you are following an animal like this cheetah, this mother with her cubs, you get so attached to them. You are following them and ultimately with them all the time and there are lives are in peril. It’s crazy!
"I became so attached to them, especially these cute young cubs. When you see them getting into deep trouble you think wow they’re lives are threatened and in danger- but you have to remind yourself there is really nothing you can do.”
They’re a vulnerable, endangered species
Despite their power and speed, cheetahs are vulnerable to both humans and other predators, says Bob.
“Only about 5% of cheetah cubs make it fully grown. Most of them get killed along the way, so her and her job is so difficult.
"Cheetahs are a highly endangered animal. Their chances of survival are really up to us, but I think people will see what a fascinating animals they are!
"Viewers will learn what their lives are all about. It is one of those rare shows where you will get to know an individual animal’s character. Meet this cheetah mother and see what her life is all about.”
Naborr’s journey is far from over
Bob’s commitment to Naborr’s journey hasn’t stopped since filming the documentary, and he says he’s been back to Kenya’s Mara Naboisho Conservancy to check on her wellbeing:
“I was back out there recently and saw her again and she was really pregnant. So her cubs have moved on. They were getting close to moving on by the time I left them, they had learned a lot from her. So now she is raising a new litter of cubs.”
Man Among Cheetahs airs Monday at 9pm on Nat Geo WILD, and is part of Big Cat Week
Big Cat Week starts Monday March 12 on Nat Geo WILD
Nat Geo Wild is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, Discovery and many more.
Photo Credit: National Geographic