This year has been very successful and fruitful for the Mara cheetahs – 10 females raised 23 cubs to independence, out of which 13 males and 10 females! It is very encouraging news taking in account global reduction of cheetah numbers, where every individual is essential for the species survival. People cannot affect natural phenomena, which change the world, but can reduce their own impact on the environment hereby enabling nature maintain all its creatures. Being adaptive, cheetah is a very fragile species. Reduction of human disturbance assists females in raising their offspring, and we will make sure to continue doing our best to keep Mara cheetah population healthy and self-sustainable.
There are only 7,100 cheetahs now left in the wild with fewer than 50 individuals clings on in Iran. The authors of a recent report are calling on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for an urgent re-categorisation of the species from vulnerable to endangered.
During the last half a year, we observed 10 new cheetah males in the Mara. Two of them – shy adult brothers appeared first in July, following the migration. Since then, they are regularly seen in the area, bordering Serengeti and sometimes are mistaken for Miale’s sons – Mugi and Mukiri. As they are sharing territory with a young female Neema, it gives a hope for a greater genetic diversity of the Mara cheetahs.
To keep a kill safe from kleptoparasites and to eat as much as possible before other predators detect it, cheetahs use different strategies: dragging kills into bushes, into patches of tall grass or into holes. Additionally, they feed on the muscle meat of the hindquarters and shoulders of ungulates without opening the abdomen of the kill. In the event potential kleptoparasites appear, cheetahs lie down huddled close to the ground concealing themselves.
Three days ago, when Hodari made a kill, hungry Malaika with two cubs appeared on the scene, watching him from a distance. After some time, she decided to pass by the male, who displayed the behavior of an unsure animal by lying down near the kill. In some cases, cheetahs scavenge from each other, but having small cubs, females choose not to, so as to ensure the safety of their cubs. As cubs learn survival strategies from their mothers, such incidents teach them how to avoid conflicts by displaying confident behavior in the presence of conspecifics.
Males in a coalition take bigger prey, and their weight and size is usually bigger than in solitary males. Coalition members share responsibilities including monitoring the area during feeding and the resting hours. Living solitary life after losing a partner means partially replacing the lost partner by performing all activities, which were shared before. After losing his brother, Martin keeps a great shape and hunts middle size and small animals like hares and fawns, reducing energy costs whenever possible. Just before the sunset, when he had almost finished the meal, hyena spotted him from the nearest bushes. This time Martin did not defend remains as it was not much left. Fortunately, he left the spot full. Travelling around the Mara, Martin periodically visits the hot spots and investigates cent-marks left by the other cheetahs, including females in estrus. When there are not many coalitions in the area, singletons have high chances to meet females and pass their genes.