Pamushana | September 2019

The cheetah brothers came from of a litter of five cubs – three males and two females. Their mother was an amazing hunter and she managed to raise all five. When the time came the mother cheetah left her young ones to fend for themselves, and she went on to produce another litter. The cubs did very well for some months and the two females left the area as is normal to go and start their new life in new lands. The three males were fine for almost two and half years, but one morning we discovered that one of the boys was missing in action. There was no need to ask ourselves what happened because you could see the soulful bereft looks on the faces of the remaining two – they kept calling and calling for their brother until they realised there would never be an answer; their brother had died and they would never be a coalition of three again.

Cheetah have the lowest rank when competing with all the super-predators, and they have to keep an eye open for whatever they are doing to stay safe. Mother Nature has played a clever role for the survival of cheetah cubs by making them look like honey badgers. Honey badgers are small-bodied animals but feared by all wildlife because of their seemingly constant aggressive and furious attitude.

Cheetah hunt during the day to avoid encounters with other predators, and most of the time when they are not hunting they will be lying low on the ground. They are well designed to twist their necks at extreme angles to check their surroundings. When the time to be active or hunt comes they give themselves a good stretch and from there they go from tree to tree urine-marking their territory, and also sharpening their claws on trees, and this is when you see them climbing trees or termite mounds and scanning the area from their elevated position. Cheetah claws are only semi-retractable which is excellent for grip when chasing prey, but it does make tree climbing a little unsteady. Their body is streamlined and perfectly designed for speed, plus their long tails provides balance.

Our two brother cheetahs are about eight years old, and are thriving. They mainly prey on impala, zebra foals, wildebeest calves, and I have even seen them killing a female kudu.

These cheetahs seem to have adapted to hunt more like leopards because of the dense vegetation. They wait for their prey to come close and then chase them a very short distance. When they kill they share their kill very quietly to avoid detection by other predators. After eating they clean each other’s faces which helps to keep the scent of blood off them.