In this interesting video, I love the dignified cheetah but I hate the circus of gawping humans with their beloved technology that surrounds her. There is a stark contrast in behavior. I think we come off worst.
Is this cheetah experience good or bad? At the end of the video the tourists cry out with relief that the cheetah has gone yet they are there to see the cheetah. The cheetah is filmed and photographed. A long queue of mini-buses stack up behind the vehicle upon which the cheetah sits to use as a perch to view the flat grassy plain. Cheetahs like to be high up to check things out. They live in flat, grassy plains where they can use their speed to catch prey.
I am divided on this. I don’t like to see tourists gawping at wild cats as if they are some sort of freak show. If cheetahs were more abundant we wouldn’t be looking at them as if they were so special. Should we be traipsing through their habitat in buses? Does this socialise them to people and is that good?
This cheetah is completely disinterested in the people. She is habituated and socialised to people and buses and uses them to her advantage. Is this some sort of artificial and distorted environment that we have created for the big wild cats in Africa?
It seems to me that we have changed something that is genuinely wild and natural – the home of the cheetah – and converted it, in a way that only humans can, to a circus or a zoo.
I am sorry if that sounds like an old man moaning, which it probably is but I hope you understand what I am trying to say. In this video, on the one hand I see a beautiful wild cat which is quite shy and friendly and on the other hand I see the human race messing around with their digital cameras recording what is probably going to be history in about 30 years.
That is what I see. Most, nearly everyone else will see it differently. I respect that. But surely it would better if we let the cheetah just live naturally in the place where it has lived for 4 million years. Do we have destroy it all? Do we have to taint it with the human presence?
Pragmatic people will say that tourism is a way of preserving the wild cats. I agree, but it is a solution of doom and desperation. It would be far better if we just learned to live in harmony with them and to leave them alone. Is that beyond us?