WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2011

Behaviour: Mammals

Paul Goldstein, United Kingdom

Family tree

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.'

Technical specification

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: latitude -1.58198, longitude 35.2451 Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya: latitude -1.58198, longitude 35.2451

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Paul Goldstein, United Kingdom

  • Taking flight