Andrew James is a freelance journalist and photographer. He writes regularly for market-leading photo magazines and is a partner in FotoBuzz - an exciting online community for photographers. He also leads and assists in photography workshops and holidays in the UK and abroad.
OUT OF ALL the big cats cheetahs are my favourites. I'm not 100 per cent sure why but I think it's something to do with the fact they live their lives right on the edge. Exposed to other predators and constantly in danger of not having enough to eat, they are tough but vulnerable animals. The following sequence of images was shot in a vehicle with my friend wildlife photographer Andy Rouse. After a hectic week working in separate vehicles in the Mara, we managed a session together. A bit of banter and some wildlife spotting was certain to refresh drained batteries. Ours, not the cameras!
When we found the cubs (above right), mum was nowhere to be seen. She was out hunting. We watched the cubs constantly scanning the horizon for signs of their mother. Alone, they were very vulnerable as we'd seen hyenas in the neighbourhood. We decided to stay put and keep an eye out until mum came back. When she did finally turn up, it was clear she hadn't hunted.
Although clearly hungry, the cubs were still playful as mum lead them across the grassy plane as the sun rapidly started to sink towards the horizon line. They scampered after her, jumped on her, jumped on each other or just stopped to watch what she was doing.
She was clearly desperate to eat but there was no sign of Thompson Gazelle or smaller wildebeest for her to hunt. We watched as she checked out every bush and long grass she passed in the hope that a hare was hiding there. But nothing bolted out for her to chase. We left her and the cubs to disappear through the long grass as the light faded, hoping she would kill soon.