by Shawn Skipper - Thursday, July 11, 2013
As soon as you set foot into the wilderness, you have to accept that your presence changes the balance in some way, shape or form—but it's not often that observers mean the difference between life and death, even inadvertently. That's what happened at South Africa's Kruger National Park, as an SUV's open window saved an impala from a fair of hungry cheetahs.
The now widely-circulated video, which is embedded below, shows a herd of impala cut across a road and right through a group of cars touring the park, desperate to get away from a pursuing cheetah. Things get even more interesting when one of the impala gets separated from its buddies, and winds up the target of not one, but two of the big cats. With its future looking grim, the panicked animal threw caution to the wind and leapt toward the only salvation it could find: the open window of an SUV that had stopped to watch the action.
Amazingly, it stuck the landing—earning unanimous 10/10 scores from our panel of judges, even the Russian one. With one heave, the impala found itself some safety—though admittedly at the cost of absolutely terrifying the people that were occupying the vehicle. That's still better than being cheetah chow. I can only imagine that, if the antelope could talk, it would have offered something along the lines of "Punch it, Chewie!"
The next cut in the video shows the impala casually walking away from the car after being let out the other side, at a somewhat more leisurely pace. The predators don't appear to be pursuing it, and I'm assuming that's because they were still too stunned at the turn of events. The report goes on to say that they tagged another impala a little ways down the road, anyway, so it's safe to say they didn't go to bed without supper.
I'm actually a little taken aback at the boldness of the tourist that you can see leaning out the SUV's window during the video. Kruger National Park has a strict don't leave your car policy, which I suppose he doesn't violate, but just leaning out the car that way is exposing himself to more action than seems safe. Predator and prey alike aren't going to go out of their way to avoid you just because you're a "non-combatant," nor should you expect them to. What if the cheetah to the left had tried to use this guy's window to get at the impala after it holed up in the car?
In case you haven't seen it, here's the video. Crazy stuff:
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