TANO BORA AND HYENAS. WHEN FEAR DRIVES YOU UP A TREE

03/18/2024

Interspecific territorial competition with successful and stronger predators forces cheetahs in a coalition to employ different survival strategies. For example, do not hunt if a lion, leopard or hyena is spotted at a distance, kill two antelopes at the same time so that if one prey is taken away by kleptoparasites, the other will be eaten by the hunters. Or share a meal with a hyena, saving energy for the fight, in which in any case the hyena will emerge victorious. Having noticed resting adult cheetahs, hyenas approach to check if there is anything to profit from, and usually leave for good after a while. However, some individuals attack adult cheetahs, driving them away from their resting place. A hyena’s display of aggressive behavior ends in the hyena’s victory, increasing its self-confidence. Although such phenomena are rarely observed, such events occur frequently in nature. A year ago in the evening, we watched two hyenas persistently chase Nashipai, and on March 16, a hyena chased two males – Winda and Olonyok. With age, cheetahs’ hearing weakens. Perhaps the January injury to one ear (despite treatment) could also be the reason why Olonyok did not hear the approach of the hyena and the preemptive hiss of his coalition-mate in time.

In search of salvation, some cheetahs climb trees and spend hours there, not deciding to come down even when the hyenas have left the place. This was the case with the female Miale, who was fleeing from a group of hyenas, and Kisaru’s son, Lekisaru, who waited out the night after the death of his mother, sitting high in a tree. And it appears that Olonyok didn’t just climb the tree on March 16 to mark or inspect the area. He looked anxious, and only came down at 18:15 to join Winda, with whom he finished the fawn of Thomson gazelle. When the hyena reappeared on the spot, the cheetahs had already finished eating and were resting nearby. Having finished eating the rest, the hyena drove the cheetahs away from the resting place and immediately after that left, thus showing its superiority. These two males from the Tano Bora coalition are now 9.5 years old, and every day they find it more difficult to survive. Living as a couple helps them share vigilance and food. Considering that the average lifespan of male cheetahs is about 3 years, Winda and Olonyok are doing well.



ENCOURAGING EVENT – OLBARIKOI MEETS NEEMA

03/03/2024

Home ranges of male and female cheetahs overlap, and, on the one hand, different males encounter each other, but on the other hand, males have the opportunity to meet different females. Meetings between males often result in fights, in which some cheetahs may get injured. On January 26, Mpaka, who is roaming mainly in the Triangle and Serengeti, encountered two males from the Tano Bora coalition on their territory in the Reserve. Both Winda and Olonyok attacked the intruder, but eventually Mpaka was the only male who wasn’t hurt! Both coalition-mates, were limping after the brawl, and Olonyok’s ear was seriously damaged. In conditions of fierce competition, especially with coalitions, some lonely males not only manage to survive, but also to reproduce. One of these males was Olchorre, who, having lost his littermate, once created a temporary alliance with the son of Miale, and who at the at the age of 7 years, managed to mate with two different females in the territory of two male coalitions within 2 weeks! In early February, 2024 another single male, approximately 4-year-old Olbarikoi (on Maa “light color”) came from conservancies to the territory of the Reserve and also managed to successfully mate with an 8.5-year-old female Neema (daughter of Rani, granddaughter of Shakira). Neema also had the opportunity at different times to meet with coalitions (Milele and Mbili, Tano Bora) and different floaters including mating with both coalition males and singletons – Olchorre and Olbarikoi. With productive mating, different males have a chance to enrich the genetic pool of the cheetah population. And in some cases, it is even easier for a single male to mate, since he is not disturbed by his coalition partner. Early May will reveal whether mating was successful.



OUR DEEPEST SUDDEN LOSS

02/13/2024

Maasai Mara and we have suffered a great loss – on February 12, our colleague and friend Tipayo Mpoke Oloisuya, our dear Jonah, suddenly passed away of a heart attack. As a true Ranger, he died at work, while monitoring cheetahs to whom he was devoted wholeheartedly. Johnah has become the Chief Ranger of the new Cheetah Monitoring and Protection Team formed by Narok County, which we have been working with since day one. Thanks to the hard work of the team, and to a large extent to Johnah’s uncompromising, strong character, his responsibility and passion for cheetahs, Nashipai saved all four cubs, which happened in the Reserve for the first time since the 2020 lockdown. Jonah always took animal welfare matters to heart, caring deeply for every animal he monitored. The last month has been especially difficult. At first, the female Kisaru, with whom the team spent many days, died, and Jonah participated in the rescue of her cub Lekisaru, sincerely rejoicing that the cub remained in the Mara. And since yesterday, he has been tirelessly monitoring Olonyok after treating his injury. Jonah was very worried about the future of the male. In his big and kind heart there was enough room for everyone, man and animals. And it’s impossible to believe that this wonderful heart has stopped forever. On behalf of our team, I offer my deepest condolences to Jonah’s family, relatives, colleagues and friends. I am proud and grateful for the opportunity to work with such a wonderful person, learn, share and experience victories and sorrows together. And keeping the bright memory of you, we, together with your colleagues, will continue to preserve the cheetahs of the Mara, whom you sincerely loved and to whom you devoted so much effort and care. Blessed memory of you, you will always be with us.



CHALLENGES OF HUNTING

01/17/2024

Cheetahs are opportunistic hunters. They hunt any available prey, in any weather conditions and at any time of the day, including night. The reason for this is that even when the environmental conditions are favorable, and prey is available, hunting may be hampered by the presence of food and territorial competitors (i.g. baboons, lions, hyenas). In most cases, they hide at a great distance, trying to be unnoticed, and patiently wait for the cheetahs to hunt. Some hyenas in the Mara have developed an advantageous strategy – to follow the cheetahs and lie down 25-30 meters away watching cheetahs. Sometimes cheetahs try to escape from unwanted pursuers, and then they go away for several kilometers and even cross the river. If there is a camp on the way to the most convenient crossing, some cheetahs will eventually develop the optimal route and fearlessly pass through the camp area to the river bank. Several times we observed Tano Bora males entering the gate of the Julia’s camp and soon crossing the Talek River. Less often hyenas lose interest and leave after a few hours. If this happens at dusk, cheetahs may begin hunting as soon as competitors are out of sight. It is easier for a coalition to catch and kill large game, and this requires the cooperation of all members of the group. Rarely does an adult male manage to take down an adult Wildebeest or Topi alone. In the Tano Bora coalition, Olonyok often started and ended the chase alone, but success was ensured when Winda helped him. For a successful hunt, males evaluate environmental conditions, and in rare cases, when circumstances interfere, one partner is unable to take part in the hunt in time, and both lose the prey. Moreover, strong ungulates (Zebra, Wildebeest, Eland, Topi) can begin to chase an unsuccessful hunter or injure a cheetah with their hooves or horns from a turn. This happened when Winda chased after the Topi alone, while Olonyok slowed down behind. Fortunately, no one was hurt.



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

12/25/2023

Dear Friends, Colleagues, Partners and Supporters, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for being with us for all these years, for your comprehensive financial support that contributed to our great achievements, and for all the wise advice and inspiring words that have given us strength in our daily tireless work in cheetah conservation! We sincerely wish you happiness, joy, success, peace and prosperity in the new year!