ENCOUNTER OF TRAVELERS – MKALI, MWANGA and CHAI BOY

12/30/2020

While wandering through the ecosystem, male cheetahs encounter single males and coalitions, and display more or less peaceful or aggressive behavior. In the wild, there are known cases of coalition-mates killing and feeding on the carcass of the intruder, as, for example, in Phinda Resource Reserve in South Africa. For 9 years of observation in the Mara, we have witnessed numerous cases of collisions of different males (in groups or loners), which lasted from several hours to two days, and fortunately, not a single male was injured. In September 2020, we observed the interaction of a cheetah coalition of two males with a male from the three-member coalition known as the Chai Boys. Both coalitions of young males emerged in the past year: two (Mkali and Mwanga) appeared initially in the Triangle in June, and three Chai Boys in the reserve in October. In December 2019, both coalitions were spotted in the reserve, and in early 2020, the Chai Boys moved to the conservancies (Naboisho, OMC and Ol Kinyei), while Mkali and Mwanga preferred the territory of the reserve, although they also used territories of the neigboring Naboisho and OMC. At the end of September 2020, one of the Chai Boys appeared without his coalition-mates in the reserve, where he encountered a pair of males. It is obvious that the scenario of a meeting of two complete coalitions – a pair and a triplet – would be different. However, in this case, the couple trapped the lonely male, and for many hours until darkness was not giving him the opportunity to get out of the ravine. It remains unclear what had happened to the other two Chai Boys, but it was clear from the behavior of all three males that the couple was not ready to accept a new member, and the one was not ready to join the pair.
Loners find it more difficult to compete for resources with coalitions, especially those as large as Tano Bora, so they either have to travel far to avoid colliding with coalitions, or forge their alliances with unrelated males to survive and succeed.

                   



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2021

12/25/2020

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters!
This year was not easy for all of us, but despite this, you all have been helping wildlife conservation as much as was possible, and we are deeply grateful to each and everyone for your ongoing all-round support of our cheetah research and conservation project. We are sincerely wishing everyone in the coming year blessings, restoration of the lost, support and success in everything you do, prosperity and happiness, more joy each day and the fulfillment of your most cherished dreams.

With deep gratitude,
Project team



HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CHEETAH DAY

12/04/2020

4th December – INTERNATIONAL CHEETAH DAY. Today, only 7100 cheetahs remain in the wild, and their number is steadily declining. Apart from global issues driving cheetahs to extinction, each ecosystem has its own local challenges, where only the fittest survive. Most of cheetah cubs – 75% die within first 3 month, and only 7-15% of the cubs reach independence. It is critical to genetic diversity that surviving offspring are born of different pairs. Therefore, every litter is important, even if eventually only one cub survives. Last year, one of the females – Siligi, who spends most of her life in Serengeti, surprised us with appearing with her 7 cubs – the largest number documented in the Mara. In half a year, she had only one cub.
Our Project team works closely with the Narok county rangers and Kenya Wildlife Service officers, with assistance of local tour guides, doing everything to keep Mara cheetah population self-sustainable, and individuals, especially mothers with cubs, undisturbed. In the highly visited parts of the Reserve, together with rangers, we close areas with cheetah dens until cubs start following their mothers in their way of exploring the ecosystem. Undisturbed by humans, females can better perform their duties, detect potential danger and act accordingly, and cubs learn survival strategies by watching their mother’s behavior.
Mara is one of a few wilderness-unfenced areas in Africa, which holds relatively stable free roaming cheetah population, and for the species’ survival is essential to preserve and maintain the ecosystem and all its components, including local communities. Let’s do it together!



NASHIPAI – CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD (Part II)

11/25/2020

Every day cheetah cubs encounter with many inhabitants of the savanna and learn survival strategies by watching their mother’s behavior. Often, jackals and warthogs are the first to approach the prey of a cheetah. While the cubs are small, the female drives away intruders, but as they grow older, young themselves begin to drive them away. However, when the warthogs are close by, cubs remain near the mother – adult warthogs are dangerous to cheetah cubs. Encounter with conspecifics can be life-threatening. There were cases when male cheetahs killed cubs. In the Mara, the Tano Bora coalition periodically meet different females as their home ranges overlap. Over the past 3.5 months, Nashipai faced this coalition three times, and each time not all males were friendly, although they fought mostly among themselves. Interestingly, the former leader of the coalition Olpadan several times showed aggression towards Nashipai, while two males – Olonyok (repeatedly mated with Nashipai) and Olarishani (the peacemaker) stood up for her. Males showed curiosity about cubs. Every time scenario of the encounter was the same: after realizing that female was not receptive, males were losing interest in her and leaving. However, once the female was trying to escape, they were coming back surrounding her. Typically, for the third time, the males left the female completely and went far.

                                         



NASHIPAI – CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD (Part I)

10/18/2020

The size of a cheetah is largely determined by the quality of its nutrition during infancy. The more food the cubs get, the faster they gain weight and strength. For females desire to feed the litter is a priority and a powerful motivation to the hunt. Having caught the prey, the female gives the offspring the opportunity to get enough and only then begins to eat herself. If the prey is small, the female eats a little in order to maintain interest in hunting again. Milk production in females also depends on the quality of her nutrition. For 4 days, Nashipai tried to hunt, making more than 10 attempts in the same area. One ended successfully, but the hyena took the prey. Then the female decided to change the location. Within a few hours, the family covered 12 kilometers and in the evening, the female hunted successfully.
One of the factors contributing to a successful hunt is the lack of disturbance. Cubs, following their mother during the stalking, often interfere with the hunt. Therefore, it is beneficial for the female to leave them behind. After completing the hunt, the female calls the cubs, and at this moment, it is important that there are no cars on their way, and if there are any, it is important that the engines and radio are turned off so that the mother and cubs can hear each other and reunite as soon as possible.