About this book
This charming autobiographical tale from Princess Michael of Kent tells of a girl growing up and the incredible bond that can exist between people and animals. Beautifully written by a natural storyteller and packed with fabulous photographs, it is also a wonderful portrait of Africa - the cheetah version of Born Free - and will delight readers worldwide.
In the early 1960s, Marie Christine von Reibnitz (who would later become HRH Princess Michael of Kent) lived with her father on his farm in Mozambique. Then just a teenager, Princess Michael was entranced by the African landscape, by the wildlife and by the people she met. It was one of the happiest times of her life and she recounts that it was an orphaned cheetah cub (called Tess) who played a huge part in making it so. The relationship between the young Princess Michael and Tess, whom she hand-reared and later successfully released into the wild having trained her to hunt and survive on her own, will touch every reader's heart.
The events of that period have remained with Princess Michael for the rest of her life and in A Cheetah's Tale she recalls not just the tale of Tess, but also the realities of life in Africa: from waking up in the middle of the night to find her father had just shot a lioness that was about to eat her to discovering a deadly Black Mamba curled up inside the loo!
Tess was the inspiration for Princess Michael's lifelong interest in cheetah conservation and the epilogue covers some of her work as Patron of the Endangered Species Centre in South Africa and of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.
‘What makes this book stand out is the princess’s very personal account of her own young life, re-connecting with an estranged father and meeting a loving step-mother, and adopting this small lost animal which she nurtured until the time to release it back into the wild. It is a window into her own world, as much as a really comprehensive study of cheetahs. Beautifully written and vividly recalled, this story is immensely touching and illuminating: her descriptions of Africa are fresh and painterly. I loved it.’
Joanna Lumley - Actress, author and activist
‘A cautionary tale of Africa’s most beautiful and rarest of big cats.’
Wilbur Smith - Novelist
‘As we follow cheetah Tess’s journey from her rescue as an orphaned cub to her return to the wild, Princess Michael of Kent explores the very human struggle between head and heart as she prepares to let go of Tess. Through her story we come to realise that cheetahs are not ours to possess, but belong to the wilderness from where they came.’
Dr Sarah Durant - Conservation scientist and cheetah expert
‘This tenderly written account chronicles a story that is long overdue to be told: the survival of the graceful cheetah is at crisis point, yet again. Princess Michael’s passion for this bewitching creature, originating from evocative teenage experiences in Africa, has inspired a lifelong commitment to support the cheetah in its natural habitat. This deeply moving tale will surely hearten others to follow her inspiring lead at this critical time.’
David Shepherd - Artist and conservationist
‘I’ve always felt that the world should hear Princess Michael’s own story of adventure, derring-do, heartbreak and struggle. Here, in this tale of love, reflection and sadness, lies the person I know who never lost her connection with nature and what it meant to her and now wants to share it with us all. …An informative and touching book which gives us pause for reflection.’
Tony Fitzjohn - Field director, George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust
‘An enchanting glimpse into a world which has gone – a young woman’s love of an orphaned cheetah cub and a happy ending – the young woman grew up to be Princess Michael of Kent, and the cheetah grew up to run free. This is a surprising and moving account of a girl growing up in a wild and beautiful world.’
Philippa Gregory - Novelist