Paul caught up with this cheetah female and her six nine-week-old cubs just before sunrise. He had been following the family in Kenya's Masai Mara for the past two weeks. While the lively siblings played around a balanites tree, circling and leaping, he took a series of backlit shots. Occasionally, one would use its sharp, young claws to scramble up the tree and then down again. Then, just as the sun clouded over, something unexpected happened. 'Five out of the six cubs ended up in the tree at the same time,' says Paul. 'Then the mother, her belly concave with hunger, suddenly leapt up too. She paused just below the crown and looked around, scanning the plain for breakfast. I love the way the postures are all different - and the indifference of the cub on the ground. Over the past 20 years, I have probably spent more time with cheetahs than any other animal, but I've never seen a scene like this before.'
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 70-200mm lens; 1/640 sec at f4 (-0.3 e/v); ISO 400; beanbag.
Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya