The Cheetah Boys (Bhaifunda)

“Half the time when brothers wrestle, it’s just an excuse to hug each other”

James Patterson

When you think of (male) cat fights, the first one that comes to my mind is Scar and Mufasa from The Lion King. A legendary sibling rivalry over territory and kingdom, much like it is in the wild’life’. Although, as seen above, these cheetah brothers aren’t just twinning and posing for the photo, but they are quite the whole and soul for each other. A concept that was initially foreign as an only child, but later familiarised through ragging (hazing) during my undergrad. Bhai funda (or brotherhood) as it was called, was apparently a natural way to survive the wild.

Cheetah’s unlike most cat species hunt in the day, and hence through evolution have developed speed and tear lines (black lines on the face to reflect the glare of the sun while hunting) but lost out on strength and endurance. It’s almost like the maker of beings was creating a Sims character where if you topped out speed you lost out on other traits.

This lack of strength meant, a constant threat from bullies of the jungle, the lion, for territory and food, where disobedience meant death. Much like in college, where nine of us from my home state were picked on by our seniors to remain restricted to college grounds, eat mess food and bow in respect to avoid getting slapped. Some might say two hundred and sixty-seven slaps are better than dying, and we didn’t complain. What it did, however, was brought the nine of us together forming a brotherly bond, one that protected us and comforted us in adverse times.

This cheetah coalition had come off the back of, losing their mother and being pushed against the fence by a pride of intrusive lions. The cheetah boys were strong and at the same time displayed a lot of affection towards one other, a feeling that comes when you grow through trying circumstances together.

Their survival depended on their brotherhood, which is what brotherhood really should be defined as. My college brothers, were not my sole group in college, but a soul group that certainly made college more survivable.

Back at Thanda, we spotted these cheetah boys a few times through the month and every single time we’d capture them on camera they’d have some of the most photogenic poses for us. With such few of them left in the wild (and the biggest bully of them all, humans, after them), it was as if they were wanting to leave behind a legacy and memory of brotherhood through these photographs

“Brother in paws, brother in jaws in a spot of bother, despite the present flaws,

coalitions and camaraderie, to fight the foreign, regardless of species, nature’s universal laws.”

-Infinite Explorer

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