By Jacob King and Sophie Norris
A photographer has captured a mind-boggling snap of what appears to be a two-headed cheetah.
The perfectly-timed shot was taken by Yaron Schmid who captured the exact moment two cheetahs lay down one in front of the other creating the stunning optical illusion.
The ‘two-headed cheetah’ is in fact an 11-year-old big cat relaxing with her 16-month-old son.
Yaron, 48, was out on safari with his guests in Kenya, Africa, when he saw Malaika and one of her cubs eating lunch.
Anticipating the perfect angle, he waited patiently as the big cats finished munching on an antelope before taking the snap.
Yaron, from New York, US, said: “This sighting was truly magical.
“I was thrilled to land in Maasai Mara with our guests and find Malaika and her two cubs, Dogo and Kigumba, right away.
“We saw them as they were eating a small antelope. After they finished their meal, they started grooming each other and then just stood there looking around to see what else there was.
“That’s when the two heads were perfectly aligned to one body. I was very excited as I felt it was a unique moment.”
Yaron owns a safari company with his wife, Amy Montminy, and is no stranger to the regulars in Maasai Mara and said he recognised Malaika as soon as he saw her.
Something of a local celebrity, the svelte predator has frequented the area for several years and he claims she is ‘very dear’ to the hearts of safari staff.
Yaron said: “Malaika is a very famous and beloved cheetah in Kenya. Her name means ‘angel’ in Swahili.
“She’s known to be a great mother as she successfully raised many cubs to adulthood. We’ve been following her for years and she’s very dear to our hearts.
“I actually anticipated this moment and waited for the right moment to click.
“One of the services we provide to our guests is taking pictures for them so they can put down their cameras and just be in the moment with the animals.
“We especially try to capture special moments like these.
“We love bringing guests to Kenya, especially Maasai Mara. It’s one of our favorite places on earth because it’s so beautiful and so full of animals.
“It’s definitely one of the best places to see big cats so when our guests asked for us to plan a safari for them, this was a natural choice.”
Since speaking with guides at his safari, he discovered the ‘very clever and skilled’ Malaika has been missing for two months.
He has vowed to return in July to check up on her young and search for the cheetah with a new group of tourists.
Yaron said: “Now, the image is even more special to me as Malaika has been missing for two months.
“Some people think she drowned in the Mara River though I haven’t given up on her. She’s a very clever, skilled cheetah.
“I’m hoping she just separated from her cubs now that they are mature, and is waiting out the heavy rains in a nearby conservancy and will reappear with the sun in June.
“I’ll be back in Mara in July with another group of guests and hope to introduce them to my most favorite cheetah.
“Otherwise, this will be one of my last sightings of her.”