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!