Cheetah Mom and Cub, Botswana

Photograph by Chris Johns

"For a [female] cheetah the real danger is not losing a kill but losing her cubs. Ninety-five percent of cheetah cubs die before reaching independence. Hyenas kill them out of hunger, lions apparently out of bad habit. ... Female cheetahs deal with the threat by constantly moving, preferably before their rivals even know they're around. They coexist as phantom species, slipping into temporary vacancies between prides of lions and packs of hyenas."

(Text adapted from and photograph shot on assignment for, but not published in, "Cheetahs: Ghosts of the Grasslands," December 1999, National Geographic magazine)