Cheetahs are best known for their antics in vast open spaces like the Masai Mara and Serengeti. The large grasslands there create ideal habitat for the world’s fastest land mammal, as they chase down prey at speeds in excess of 100 km/h. That said, we have cheetahs in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin that have made this not-so-open habitat their home. The family of three pictured here joined us about two months ago, after an absence of cheetah cubs for almost five years. Singita’s most southern areas are open grassland, suitable for this family to settle and thrive. Large herds of impala often gather on the plains, giving great opportunity for the speed queen to stretch her long legs. She has had to adapt the classic hunting technique, and with several observations we have noticed that she stalks much closer to her prey than cheetah in East Africa do. She often hunts more like a leopard, in that she uses the available cover to stalk within 20 meters, or closer. A single male cheetah has also made this area his home. He is a large and strong male and has gone unrivaled for almost a year. With the arrival of the female, mating prospects have started looking a whole lot better. The only problem for now is that she has two dependent cubs. The female will not allow him to court her whilst her cubs are still around, and this should still be the case for another eight months.
Male cheetahs are not as aggressive towards foreign cubs as their larger feline relatives. Lions and leopards often kill cubs fathered by any rival male. Male cheetahs have been observed to threaten cubs and show their dislike towards their presence, as can be seen pictured below. However, there are cases of male cheetahs actually killing cubs in order to gain access to the female cheetah a few weeks later. Only time will tell what will happen with these particular ones. From what we have witnessed, thus far, his disapproval of them is obvious in that he often spits or strikes at them in typical cheetah fashion. The female will intervene if things get too heated, and he usually retreats. The cubs are in great health and have always walked away from these interactions, unscathed.