Let’s find Malaika

Dear friends, let’s try to find Malaika together! Here we post Malaika’s profiles, so you can check your photos and compare highlighted areas on the photos of Malaika with spot patterns on a cheetah you encountered. If you’d like us to identify cheetahs for you, please send us your recent photos and we will gladly tell you which cheetah you saw. Please note that the best pictures for identification are full body profiles, where spots on the front and back limbs are seen. For the proper identification, resolution shall be not less than 1Mb. You can send us your photos via e-mail to the Project address: mara-cheetah@mail.ru or via Whatsapp to the Project number: +254 704 361069 MMCP team

Malaika – some facts

Malaika was born in the end of 2007 from the female Serena, who died in 2012. Until late 2015, she was roaming only within the Maasai-Mara National Reserve – from Hammerkop area to Lookout and across Talek river through Olkiombo area to Rhino ridge. However, later she started exploring adjacent Olare Orok conservancy. To date, she had 8 litters, out of which she raised five cubs to independence: a male Bawa (Wing) born in 2012, a male Malik (King) and female Malkia (Queen) both born on 2014 and 2 males Dogo and Kigumba, born in 2016.
On 24 February 2018, Malaika met with the Fast Five, who kept her for 24 hours. Her 20-months old sons were also around watching behavior of the 5 males and following them every time when the group was pursuing a female. As Malaika was not in estrus, no mating occurred. However, cheetahs are induced ovulators, and meeting with excited males could have induced estrus. On 1 March, Malaika displayed typical behavior of a cheetah in heat – she was intensively rolling over and marking objects, and one of her sons was expecting her marks with interest. At that time, she did not let cubs approach close to her. In order to avoid inbreeding, females in estrus leave their offspring, and Malaika did it before. Most likely she left cubs to look for a mate. Malaka’s sons are adult enough to take care of themselves. However, they were not ready to be left by the mother because of various benefits which living in a group provides to cheetahs.

3 March – World Wildlife Day celebration in the Mara

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. In 2018, the theme is “Big cats: predators under threat”. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal, have declined in number by more than 90% and have lost more than 91% of their range since 1900 due to habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of prey base, direct persecution due to human-carnivore conflict and illegal trade. In Eastern Africa Cheetahs are known to occur in only 6% of their historical range. Today the total free-ranging population is estimated at 7100 adults and adolescents distributed across 33 populations in 19 African countries and Iran, and populations continue to decline. The species is listed on Appendix I of CITES, and in 2016, a motion was put forward for IUCN to uplist cheetahs from Vulnerable to Endangered. The cheetah was ranked 3rd of 36 wild felid species in terms of prioritization of conservation efforts. Today we celebrated the World Wildlife Day together with representatives of different organizations, including Friends of Maasai Mara, Basecamp Foundation, Narok County Government, Maasai Mara Park authorities, Mara tour facilities and wildlife conservation projects, based in the Mara. It was a great opportunity for us to spend the day with the kids from different Mara schools and share our knowledge of animals’ behavior with them. Kids were excited to watch lioness with 6 cubs, a couple of mating lions and highlight of the day – four males of the famous cheetah coalition Fast Five at a topi kill. The Day ended up with donation the “Let’s Go Wild” coloring book designed by our Project team together with The Laikipian. Talking to the kids, Dr. Elena, Founder of the Project, stressed that the future of nature and its unique creatures, including wild cats, is in the hands of young people, and urged to preserve them for posterity together with the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project

Miale’s Son found a friend

Cheetah male coalitions usually consist of littermates, who can also accept unrelated individuals. Males, who lost their brothers, have more chances to form a new coalition or join the other group, than those who have been the only cub in the litter. However, in two cases single males joined unrelated males. Interestingly, in two cases, at least one male did not have littermates by the time of separating from the mother. In one case, Nora’s son spent some time with two sons of Imani. In the second case, Miale’s son united with a male, who could have recently lost his brother. A New coalition of two young males came to the Reserve in the end of December 2017, and until the end of January 2018, brothers have been spotted in different parts of the Reserve. We gave them ID numbers M81 and M82. Miale’s son was 18 months old when was spotted last with his mother. When Fast Five (5-male coalition) encountered Miale on 14 February 2018, her son appeared in the same area in a company of M81. It is difficult to say what had happened to M82 and for how long Miale’s son (M85) and M81 will stay together, but relationship between two males are very friendly, which gives a hope that these two males will form a life-long union. It will be beneficial for these young males as they have to share territory with the Fast Five coalition.

Kisaru and Busara – independent life

Living in a coalition provides a wide range of benefits to its members, including better protection and access to food resources. Amani’s daughters – Kisaru and Busara developed different hunting strategies and one of them was simultaneous hunting for two different objects. They successfully applied it in the areas with mosaic vegetation and hyena’ presence. As a result, one kill could be taken by a hyena, while the other one could serve as a proper meal for both females. Since the middle of January, both females have been spotted separately in a few occasions (we observed them been split by hyenas in the bushland), and then together again. Since the last decade of January, sisters have been spending more time lonely. These young females remained together as long as both benefited equally.