Life in a coalition gives benefits to its members. Two males, who first showed up in the Mara in July 2016, are a good example of constant care for each other. When one of the males had an irritation on the skin, the second male was patiently licking the area. In a month, the skin completely recovered. Recently we observed one male limping, and his brother was hunting and sharing meals with his partner. It is a good time for naming the brothers. One of them deserved to be called Kisaru, which means “The one who helps”. You are welcome to suggest a name in Kiswahili or Maa with a positive meaning.

Cheetah cubs learn surviving strategies from behavioral adaptations displayed by their mothers. Cubs raised by the mothers tolerant to high human activity (i.e. tourism, grazing, motorbike transportation etc.), tend to be relaxed in such areas.
We observed Malaika’s daughter Maikia curiously watching two men walking in front of their camp. Malkia spotted them while heading to the river, and after observing each other for 5 minutes, two species moved in different directions and soon disappeared in the thick bush on two sides of the camp. Another cheetah – daughter of Rani, recently was patiently waiting for a motorbike and a car to pass by her before crossing the road to the other side of the field. Her mother Rani spent half of the time bringing up her cubs in the areas with grazing and motorbike activity, and did not display any discomfort in such situations. Such adaptation is beneficial in the areas where humans are tolerant to cheetahs, as it provides the opportunity for the species to roam within the ecosystem. On the contrary, in the areas where cheetahs perceived as problematic, close encounter with humans can cost them the life. Therefore, community education on conservation issues plays a significant role in promoting human tolerance to cheetahs.

Today is the World Wildlife Day, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013. This year it is celebrated under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices” to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife. Today, we were happy to celebrate it in partnership with Friends of Maasai Mara (www.friendsofmara.org), who organized screening wildlife documentary films to children in the local schools and taking pupils from three schools to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. We took this opportunity to donate to the kids the coloring wildlife conservation book “Let’s Go Wild”, which we produced together with the Laikipian (http://laikipiaonline.co.ke/). After that, Dr. Elena Chelysheva (the head of the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project) accompanied pupils and their teachers on their safari to the Maasai-Mara National Reserve. It was for the first time in their life, that they could observe elephants, lions and highlight of the day – cheetahs up close and learn about their behavior and habits from Joseph Kan’ethe and Vincent Nkai – experienced and dedicated guides from the Mara Intrepids camp (http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/tented-c…/mara-intrepids/) and from Dr. Elena. By emphasizing the uniqueness of African wildlife and importance of its conservation, we hope to encourage in kids a sense of pride in owning such a diverse wildlife. Emphasizing the uniqueness of African nature and importance of its conservation, we hope to encourage in kids a sense of pride in owning such a diverse wildlife.

This year began with a nice surprise – a male coalition of five males appeared in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It consists of 3 pasts – two older males and three younger. The most interesting thing is that one of the younger males had a sister, with whom we observed him in August 2016. By November, he split with her and started independent life. By December 2016, he united with the other males and soon became a member of the largest cheetah male coalition ever observed in the Mara. Living in a group gives many benefits – from occupying and holding a large territory to bringing down large prey. Usually, cheetahs give up when encounter other predators, like leopards, but not this group. Recently, we observed them chasing away a female leopard, who resigns in the area. Being young and curious, males explore unusual objects they come across, like mating tortoises.

Usually after cheetah mother leaves her cubs, they stay together for up to half a year. In a sibling group, brothers strongly rely on their sisters, as they are known to be more successful hunters. Rani (also known as Musiara area female) was among 10 Mara females, who have successfully raised cubs to independence in 2016, and one of the two 8-years old females, who have brought up cubs for the first time in their life. In the middle of December, the family members split, and all three cubs (one male and two females) started independent life. One of them is a young female Nashipai, whose name means Happy in Maa. Unlike cubs of the other females, cubs of Rani were roaming in the same area, splitting and reuniting for several times. Nashipai demonstrates hunting strategy typical for young cheetahs – after unsuccessful chases, she is checking bushes for hares and fawns.