The Complexity of Life in Male Cheetahs

03/19/2019

Membership in a coalition provides cheetah males with significant benefits. In well-maintained coalitions which consists of brothers-littermates, males share duties and the level of affiliative behaviors is high while the level of aggression between members is low. However, by living in a group with unrelated members, cheetah males meet challenges. In such groups, leadership is held by brothers, but unrelated males compete to earn a higher rank. Membership in the coalition gives male cheetahs significant advantages. In a coalition consisting of siblings, brothers share responsibilities, the level of affiliated behavior is high, and the level of aggression between members is low. However, living in a group with unrelated members, male cheetahs encounter problems. In such groups, the leadership belongs to the brothers, but unrelated males compete to get a higher rank. In the Fast Five coalition (Tano Bora), one male has no relatives. For almost two years, he was the leader of the group, but a few months ago, he began to slowly lose his status. Within 4 months, he was attacked by other members several times. In two cases, the fight was conducted during the courtship with different females. During the fight against intruders, the males affect predominantly the anogenital area. There are known cases when males have bitten and cut off the testicles of intruders, and often a fight led to the death of a wounded male. Recently, the former leader of the “Fast Five” was seen with bleeding testicles. Dr. Limo (KWS, David Sheldrick Foundation) took action and saved the life of the male. Unfortunately, due to injury one testicle had to be removed. The male recovered well and soon joined his coalition-mates. The meeting was not friendly, two males rushed to the cured male, and one of them attacked him. The ex-leader had to act as a submissive member in order to reduce aggression. After a 6-hour rest in the shade, all the males went to the Talek River and crossed it immediately after sunset.