By Shannine O’Neill
THIS FUNNY cheetah who appears to be laughing at a joke was in fact enjoying what could be the African savannah’s longest and most indulgent yawn.
One image captured the 100-pound cheetah stretching into the downward dog yoga pose to release the tension of the day.
Another image shows the cheetah giving a big yawn to show off his 30 sharp teeth and to signify he is ready to find a cosy place to rest for the night.
Photographer Adi Karthik from India captured a moment of trust between him and a Cheetah in Masai Mara, Kenya using a 600mm lens and the powerful 1DX Mark II.
Adi was on his third day of his week-long trip to Masai Mara when he spotted the cheetah.
As soon as Adi came across the cheetah, the graceful animal suddenly stood tall, staring at Adi.
But instead of an aggressive or even vicious reaction that some may expect from one of the biggest cats in the world, the cheetah stretched forward and gave a big yawn as if aware that his relaxation spot had been invaded.
The cheetah stretched for what felt like three-minutes straight to Adi, who was engrossed in the animal’s relaxed reaction to him invading his space.
Each stretch resembled a yoga pose to Adi, who had never seen such a relaxed wild animal in his presence.
It was closely approaching sunset, so Adi snapped his images as quickly as he could of the stretching cheetah before darkness would set between him and the big cat.
Once the cheetah had reflected on his day through stretching and yawning, he simply looked at Adi and walked away, completely aware and unbothered by his presence after such an apparently exhausting day.
“As soon as I arrived at the spot, the cheetah stood up, as if aware of my presence,” he said.
“It began to stretch and yawn, as if bidding farewell to the day that was slowly fading into twilight.
“The sun, on the verge of dipping below the horizon, cast a warm, golden glow across the landscape.
“The cheetah‘s yawn seemed both invigorating and agitated, as if releasing the remnants of a day filled with both calm and excitement.
“I couldn’t help but feel privileged as I witnessed its movements. Each stretch appeared reminiscent of yoga poses, as if the cheetah was embracing the tranquillity of the evening.”
As Adi captured the images, he was amazed at how he had captured one of the most feared animals on earth in such a relaxed and eased state.
“With each click of my shutter, I captured those awe-inspiring moments, freezing them in time,” he said.
“It felt as though the cheetah had chosen to share this intimate ritual with me, acknowledging our connection in this serene evening.
“Just as the cheetah completed its stretching routine, the sun bid its final farewell, and darkness began to blanket the savannah.
“In that ethereal moment, I not only captured a photograph but also a story—a tale of a cheetah‘s serenity and power, my patient pursuit as a photographer, and a profound connection forged between two souls immersed in the untamed beauty of the Masai Mara’s twilight hour.”