Having lost two members, three of the Tano Bora carry on with successful hunts and courtship with females. After two days spent with Nashpai, the males left her because the female was not receptive. The last to leave her was Olonyok, who had mated with her before. Hunger forced him to follow his coalition-mates. If the males are full, they stay with the female and make sure that she does not disappear, but Tano Bora were hungry, whereas following the female did not promise anything positive. While the males were sniffing the place where female has rested, she carefully slipped into the thick grass. When the males noticed her absence, she was already running toward the Talek river and soon crossed to the other side. After searching for her without much enthusiasm for a few minutes, the group went hunting. Recently, leadership has been shared between Olonyok (“The One Who Tries to Become Better” in Maa) and Winda (“Successful hunter” in Swahili). On that day, both males justified their names, masterfully putting down a half-adult zebra. Moreover, Olonyok suffocated the prey all the time, Winda helped, and Leboo at that time did what Olpadan – the ex-leader of the coalition had done before: he gnawed the inguinal area. That presumably causes a pain shock in the victim, and possibly, partial anesthesia due to the release of the Catecholamine. Zebra neck muscles are tight and strong, and it took two males 13 minutes to put the zebra to sleep. After 5 hours, there was almost nothing left of the carcass, and the males eaten enough for 4 days.




Of all predators, lions and hyenas pose the greatest threat to cheetah cubs in the wild. It is especially difficult for cheetah families during feeding time, because kleptoparasites, for example, hyenas, can appear at the spot at any time of the day. Spotted hyenas are successful hunters, but do not miss the opportunity to snatch someone else’s prey. Moreover, they can kill and eat cheetah cubs. Therefore, female cheetahs use different strategies to survive. They drag a kill sometimes for over 100 meters to the thick bush. In the open area, they hide a kill in tall grass or in a shallow depression in the soil, and open abdomen last. If a female with a kill notices a hyena in an open area, she prefers to draw the predator’s attention to her food and sacrifice it in order to save the life of her offspring. Hearing mother’s growling, cubs usually crawl or run away to a safe distance while the mother deals with the intruder. Three days ago, Selenkei had almost finished eating Thomson’s gazelle when she spotted a hyena in the distance. She sat down and began to howl along with the cub, and then made loud calls, which quickly attracted the attention of a hyena at the other end of the field. When hyena began to approach, the cub ran away, crouching and remaining unnoticed, while the mother continued to sit, drawing attention to herself and food. Only after the hyena grabbed the carcass and carried it away, Selenkei rushed to her cub. While the hyena was busy eating prey, a family of cheetahs walked safely across the field.




The end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 were marked by dire events – the death of 4 cheetahs of reproductive age. This was a big loss not only for the population of the Mara, but also for the entire wild population of the species. On December 12, 9-year-old Kiraposhe, one of the most successful females of the Mara, who raised 9 cubs to independence, died at the Olarro Conservancy. Together with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Olarro Conservancy rangers and Elephant Aware team, we managed to capture a 5-month-old Kiraposhe’s cub and transfer it to the Sanctuary. A week later, in the Mara Conservancy (The Mara Triangle), a 19-month-old female Namelok, the only daughter of Nashpai, died. On January 26, 7-year-old Olpadan (“Sharp Shooter” in Maa), the former leader of the largest coalition of males known in the Mara, was found dead in the Reserve. On February 13, almost in the same place, his coalition-mate, 7-year-old Olarishani, died of fatal wounds. In all 4 cases, there was not a single witness to the tragedy (Kiraposhe, Namelok and Olpadan died at night, Olarishani was attacked at night, but died the next day). Together with the rangers, we conducted a detailed examination of the place of death of three cheetahs (Kiraposhe, Namelok and Olpadan), as well as a complete autopsy of the female Namelok and a detailed examination of the corpse of Olpadan. We can rely on animal behavior patterns (relationships in the Tano Bora coalition, which we have been following for more than 5 years since its formation) and physiological parameters, such as the stages of rigor mortis at the moment each carcass was found, and the nature of tissues damage. Namelok’s autopsy showed that she was attacked while eating or immediately after eating prey with her brother. Deep lesions on the bodies of all four animals in similar places imply that they all died from mortal wounds inflicted by a large and powerful predator, most likely a lion. The fact that Olarishani lived for a day after the attack could be the result of the intervention of his coalition-mates. When a lion approached, the males of this coalition often made maneuvers that distracted the predator from the intended prey. The males attracted the attention of the lion by approaching from different sides, this embarrassed the lion and helped to avoid the attack during daylight hours. After the separation of Olpadan, Olarishani was often the leader of the group, alternating with Winda. He was avoiding fights and, a week before his death, while courting the female Nora (with whom he had previously mated), he kept aloof from the males who fought among themselves. “Olarishani” meaning “Judge” in Maa was a male who always played a role of a peacemaker, protecting the attacked coalition-mates, especially Olonyok. He was a decision maker, good hunter and successful in mating. In all likelihood, Olarishani, like Olpadan, had no relatives in this coalition, while Olonyok, Leboo and Winda are related to each other. After the loss of Olarishani, the rest of the Tano Bora coalition males changed their behavior. Leadership is now shared between Olonyok (“The One who puts efforts to achieve better results” in Maa) and Winda (“Good hunter” in Swahili). Olonyok was in the lowest position in the group, often attached by Olpadan and protected by a “peacemaker” Olarishani. From a low-ranking male, Olonyok turned into a group leader. He is a good hunter and successful in mating. Not many males in the wild manage to reach the age of 7 – most die before the age of three. Of course, there are successful loners – like 6-year-old Olchorre and almost 10-year-old Hodari. For Tano Bora, life in a coalition has its benefits and challenges. On the one hand, males continue to hold the territory and alternate in vigilance. On the other hand, with age, it becomes more difficult to get food. Slow and large prey require a lot of force to put it down and suffocate, but provide enough food for all three members of the group. Medium sized antelopes require speed and agility to catch and don’t provide enough food, so the group has to hunt again. Unsuccessful attempt, interrupted pursuit and loss of food to kleptoparasites (lions and hyenas) – takes away strength from elderly cheetahs. Three males of the Tano Bora often make unsuccessful attempts to chase and miss prey, and often give up to hyenas. By getting older, animals sleep longer, and in order to survive, Tano Bora males sleep longer during the day and hunt at night, and the next day after a successful hunt, they hide in the closed areas of the Reserve. Now they need more time to recover and more space to hunt. Now every member of this coalition is more vulnerable than ever before. Each successful hunt by Tano Bora is an achievement for each member of this coalition, and each unique strategy is an aid to survival, such as sharing prey with a hyena. For both species, this provides advantages – instead of wasting energy on a fight and a new hunt, it is more profitable to consume what is available. The less anxiety the males experience, the longer this unique coalition will last in the Mara and the more interesting moments it will share.




Females with adolescent cubs come into estrus and can mate with one or more males. Since the territories and home ranges of males and females overlap, they have opportunity to meet numerous partners. Some single males are more successful than others and manage to mate with different partners. For example, Olchorre mated with Neema and Sila this year. In 2022, 7-year-old Neema raised her first litter to independence. Being a responsible mother, she spent two days with the male, mating with him, while not forgetting to feed the cubs. At the end of January 2022, during the 2-day courtship with Olchorre, Neema successfully hunted. This turned out to be beneficial for the male as well. During the period of active courtship, partners do not hunt: females do not hunt because males hold them, and males do not leave the female, apparently so as not to lose the opportunity to mate with her. When Neema caught the prey, at first Olchorre was only concerned with mating with her, but eventually succumbed to hunger, and the family shared a meal with him. Usually, females leave their offspring a month before parturition, but Neema left them earlier. While Neema is in her second trimester of pregnancy, she hunts medium sized prey like gazelles or Impalas like today. One of the challenges of hunting in the evening is the encounter with predators that can take the prey. Tonight, 4 jackals approached the female first, and one of them distracted the attention of the female, constantly attacking her from behind, and biting the tip of the tail. Neema turned out to be patient and experienced – she only slightly scares away the annoying jackal, not moving away from the carcass. This helped the female save food. However, the loud constant barking of the jackal attracted the attention of the hyenas, and they immediately ran to the carcass from afar. The female did not resist and calmly left the carcass, because she had eaten enough to not be thriving for two or three days, if there was no suitable opportunity.