Fast Five in Courtship with Nasipai

Cheetah females can mate with different males. However, in the group of males, all individuals attempt to mount the female, which in fact, reduces chances of successful copulation. Sometimes, females manage to escape from a group of males, alone or with one partner and mate privately. Mating couple spends from one to three days, and copulation occurs usually at night. For the last few days, males of the biggest cheetah coalition – the Fast Five – split several times. There were two females in the area: pregnant Nora and Nashiai – Rani’s daughter, ready to come in eastrus. Cheetahs are induced ovulators, and most probably, meeting males induced estrus. Yesterday evening, all five together were searching for the female and today morning, have been spotted with Nashipai. During the daytime, they all were trying to mount her several times, but none of them succeeded. Previously, the split-up method gave opportunity to four out of five to mate with different females.


Pregnant Nora

To reduce energy costs, pregnant cheetah females hunt small prey: fawns and hares. However, old gazelles with poor vision and impaired smelling can become an easy target. Large prey requires more time for consuming and attracts attention of different kleptoparasites. Three days ago, pregnant Nora took down a fully-grown male of Thomson gazelle, crept up to him at 15 meters. Within half an hour, she ate a haunch, when a family of four warthogs appeared on the scene. Nora attempted to drive them away, but immediately after that, the animals turned the tables, and the warthog female chased the cheetah from the kill. Three other warthogs joined the chase. When Nora was far from the kill, the vultures, jackals and an adult male warthog approached it. Lying under the bush in 200m, Nora was watching the kill torn to pieces by vultures and two jackals sharing the piece with the male warthog. In half an hour, when nothing was left, Nora checked the spot.


Amani and her offspring

Affiliative behaviors – physical contact, joint rest of the group members and social grooming play significant role in the life of social species like cheetah. Social grooming (or allogrooming) is one the most important behavioral patterns. On one hand, it serves to remove parasites and dirt, especially in hard to reach places to help keep the animal’s health in good condition. On another hand, it plays crucial role in reinforcing family links and in forming and maintaining social bonds between individuals. Cheetah cubs demand attention from the mother by initiating grooming with her, as social grooming helps them maintain mental stability and self-confidence.

Cheetah’ life challenges

Among different challenges, which cheetah males face in the wild, injuries are not uncommon. Males get hurt during intraspecific fights, interspecific encounters and hunting. Some wounds heal, leaving no scars. Some change the life of an animal forever, limiting its physical abilities and forcing it to adapt to a new lifestyle. Once being a part of a dyad called Sopa Boys, Kisaru (whose name means The One who Helps) was always assisted his coalition-mate: he hunted and shared meals with Kingamu (Accepting one), when the latter was limping, and cleaned Kigamu’s sores until they healed up. In June 2017, Kisaru got an injury caused deformation of the eyeball with the pulled down pupil, resulted in blindness of the left eye. However, Kisaru had participated in the joint hunts until he suddenly lost his coalition-mate. Despite the fact that he has been living alone for over four months, Kisaru keeps the same way of life, performing most of the activities at dask, successfully hunting and taking care of himself.