Channelling Elton John, the impala is still standing even as five cheetahs try to tackle it to the ground. Mediadrumimages/KevinRooney

By Alex Jones


A FORMIDABLE impala is still standing strong after managing to shake off FIVE cheetahs who launched a coordinated attack.

Remarkable photos, captured by a British photographer in Kenya, show the exhausted cheetahs numerous attempts to bring the beast to its knees – all of them in vain. In one sensational shot, it even appears that mother cheetah, known as Selenkei, attempting a wrestling move to bring down the 160-pound antelope but to no avail. Another shot shows all five cheetahs clinging to the Impala to little effect before it made its escape.

The extraordinary sequence was snapped by Cheltenham-based photographer Kevin Rooney (53) who was on his annual photography pilgrimage to Africa to capture the continent’s jaw-dropping wildlife. These amazing shots were captured in Naboisho Conservancy in south-west Kenya.

Selenkei, the mother cheetah, bears down on the startled impala. Mediadrumimages/KevinRooney

“We were with our wildlife guide who seemed to have a sixth sense for when animals would attack,” explained Kevin, an aeronautical electrical engineer.

“We managed to position ourselves so the impala was between us and our truck and then the mother cheetah, Selenkei, started stalking the impala. She crept up until she was within attacking range and then pounced, catching the antelope after a few powerful strides.

“After catching the impala, which was a large male buck, she attempted to bring it down but had no luck. Her four cubs were soon on the scene and they all started pouncing all over the poor impala who just seemed to stand there.

The mother cheetah tries every which way to drag the large impala down. Mediadrumimages/KevinRooney

“Amazingly, after a few seconds, the impala managed to shake off the five fearsome predators and fled – leaving them in the dust. It was an amazing sight to see.”

According to National Geographic, impalas are fleet runners who are able to leap distances of up to 33 feet. They use this technique to escape predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves. The impala can also clear bushes and other obstacles by soaring some 10 feet in the air. Typically, a running impala will simply jump over anything in its path. Fully grown impalas can weigh over 160 pounds and stand at around four-fout-tall, not including their elegant, spiralling horns.

High tackle: a cheetah throws itself at the stoic antelope. Mediadrumimages/KevinRooney

Although Rooney was delighted to capture his once-in-a-lifetime picture, his work does have a serious message.

“I like to show people what’s really happening – to show the animals that are endangered at their best,” continues the 53-year-old.

Against all the odds, the impala frees itself and manages to flee, using its powerful legs to spring away. Mediadrumimages/KevinRooney

“Elephants, lions, cheetahs. They’re all at risk and if we’re not careful we’re going to lose them forever. Their numbers are dwindling. Never take them for granted.”

More of Kevin Rooney’s work can be found on his Instagram page.