Elena Chelysheva - cheetah warrior 

Maasai Mara 

Kenya

05.2022

Conservation of cheetahs through the story of Elena Chelysheva. A Russian researcher that moved to Africa more than 20 years ago and is now recognized as one of the greatest specialists in cheetahs. In 2002, Elena created and published a new approach to Cheetah identification, now widely used.

 

Her routine has been almost the same during all those years. She wakes up early in the morning and gets packed with her camera, binoculars, microphone, notebook, and ID Catalogues, then, she begins the search for the animals. Her HQ is based in a small town called Talek, from where she starts contacting the park rangers around Maasai Mara to track the animals.

 

Personal report: "I received a text message from Elena on the 3rd of May 2022 asking me to meet her on the Mara Triangle, almost two hours from where I was based. It was 11:00 am on a Tuesday and Elena told me she was tracking two cheetahs and she would like me to document her work. I got extremely excited about the possibility to shadow the most prominent expert on those animals. By the time I arranged a car to get there, it was 14:30, and making it to the Mara triangle seemed to be utopic by that time. Anyway, I gave it a shot and started this journey. I crossed the mara river, full of hippos, on a small boat and then got a car. The driver Joseph and I headed close to the border with Tanzania. A massive storm started to build in her direction, but we could not come back from that point without documenting her work. Crossing the stunning plains from the Triangle, we were almost getting to Elena when we got stuck for 1 hour, just around 500m from her and there was nothing she could do to help us by herself. After calling park rangers for help, we could make it to the cheetahs at 5 pm. I had 10 incredible minutes to document her work and photograph the animals. Things didn`t end up the way we planned that day, but fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend a few more days with her".

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