When Roddie Watson radioed in a few weeks ago that he had found a female cheetah with two cubs just north of the Sand River, nobody took him seriously. Maybe the rangers thought they hadn’t heard correctly or that he had made a mistake. After all, he was on Sasekile Ingwe clearing, near the territory of the Ximpalapala female leopard and her two remaining cubs, so a Freudian slip was most certainly what had happened, and it was the leopards that he had in fact found. No cheetah cubs had been seen on Londolozi in around 5 years.
After what seemed like an eternity of radio silence, Roddie, now slightly perplexed, radioed in again, “Uh… Stations…did anyone copy my last update?”.
After initial disbelief, it became clear that Roddie had in fact come across a female cheetah with her youngsters, but everyone else was operating in the furthest corners of the reserve, so it was only Jess Boon who was able to move in to confirm this wonderful discovery.
Reports had been filtering in over the previous few weeks that there was a female cheetah with cubs to the east of Londolozi, but this was the first time anyone on our side had seen her.

My first sighting of the female and cubs was an incredibly exciting experience. This was the morning after they were seen for the first time.

My first sighting of the female and cubs was an incredibly exciting experience. This was the morning after they were seen for the first time.

Sadly, initial reports seem to indicate that she originally had four cubs, so two must have been lost somewhere in the wilderness, whether to hyenas, lions or leopards, it remains unclear.

Impala watch warily ifrom the background as an approaching storm sends one of the cubs scampering towards its mother.

Impala watch warily from the background as an approaching storm sends one of the cubs scampering towards its mother.

What is incredibly exciting for us is that the female and her two cubs (which we estimate to be around 8 months old) seem to have settled in the same area that until now has been solely occupied by the single male cheetah. The south-western grasslands, inhabited by white rhinos and large herds of buffalo, have a lower density of other large predators than some other parts of Londolozi, and as such provide a far safer environment for cheetahs, especially a mother with young cubs, as cheetahs are at the bottom of the large predator hierarchy; the whipping boys of the big cats.

Climbing everything in sight, the cubs and their mother constantly provide wonderful photographic opportunities.

Climbing everything in sight, the cubs and their mother constantly provide wonderful photographic opportunities.

So far, interactions between the two adult cheetahs has been hostile on the part of the female, as the male is most likely a danger to the cubs He is unlikely to be their father, and therefore has no vested interest in their survival. He seems to have learnt his lesson though, as the last two times I have witnessed him approaching the female, he has decided against it at the last minute and gone on his own way.

Never far apart, the two cubs constantly mirror each other in whatever they do.

Never far apart, the two cubs constantly mirror each other in whatever they do.

Ideally, these four magnificent cats will remain in the area for a long time to come.
Who knows, when and if the young cubs are old enough to disperse, the resident male cheetah may mate with the female and new cheetah cubs, born on Londolozi, could be seen for the first time in many years…

Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile

13 Comments

on The Female Cheetah and Cubs

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Kate Neill

So awsome that they have hung around for longer than we thought they would! Love the pictures as usual JT!

Beatriz
Guest

Amazing pictures and such wonderful news!!

Rich Laburn

This cheetah and her cubs are amazing to view. Fantastic photos James!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest

Awesome photos and even more awesome that they seem to have found a new home at Londolozi! So looking forward to seeing them later this week!

Cynthia Thurlow
Guest

We had the opportunity to see the female, her two cubs and the male last month…culminating in the cubs running away and the female cheetah making it abundantly clear to the male that they were all off limits! Bennett and Alfie were stunned to see this all transpire last month. I recall Bennett remarking that he hadn’t seen four cheetah in one location in 15 years! Just incredible!

Louise Taback
Guest

So Awesome!!!! Thanks James… amazing photos!!!

John Holley
Guest

Well done James!

Trevor & Colleen
Guest

Hi James this is really fantastic. Are they down near the Castleton intersection? We have only ever seen Cheetah down there…. apart from one chap who popped in for an Impala meal not far from Airstrip. Great photos!

Evette Hartig
Guest

During our visit in May 2012 we had no sightings of cheetahs….we are excited at the prospect of viewing these magnificent cats when we visit the end of August (can’t wait). Thank you for the update, please keep them coming.

Ian MacLarty
Guest

What lovely news and what great pics. I hope that Jess brings her pictures to Malawi next week.

Ian

Wendy Hawkins
Guest

Once again you have excelled yourself with the story & the pictures! Thanks a ton for sharing

Stephanie Peduto
Guest

I love the pictures. I was at Londolozi last week and was able to see these beautiful cheetah. So precious!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
+
Add Profile