Don’t be fooled by the title.

When there is only one lone cheetah who patrols the land, the addition of a single extra animal automatically means a 100% increase in population size.
A 500% jump was certainly unexpected, but when two males moved in from the south, and a mother and two cubs from what we presume was the east, the boost was certainly welcome.

The female and cubs were the biggest surprise, and in an unusual twist of fate (that seems to be happening a lot these days), they were discovered in the same area as the last female with two cubs, who many will remember as the one who raised those two offspring successfully a couple of years ago.

Female Cheetah Cubs Jt 2

Termite mounds provide vantage points for many species in open grasslands, but cheetahs are probably the most iconic. The mother and cubs keep a look out on a chilly May morning. 

The males look young and are therefore most likely nomadic. Their initial skittish nature suggests that they originated in the Kruger National Park, and are therefore not as habituated to vehicles as cheetah raised in the Sabi Sand Reserve might be. With a single male already in residence – the same one that has been around for about 5 years now – there is limited space for these newcomers, but being a coalition of two, anything could happen. They’ll need to grow a bit first, as their size indicates that they are probably only recently independent, but coalitions of males, as in lions, stick together to better their chances of a territorial takeover and in hunting, so we’ll watch this pair carefully.

Male Cheetahs Kp

The two young males, almost certainly brothers, scan the new area they find themselves in. Photograph by Kevin Power

Females are generally nomadic, as we saw when the last female drifted in. She raised her cubs for many months before eventually taking them all the way back to the Kruger Park, then again returned with them. When the cubs were finally independent, she moved off once more.

Both this new female and the two males, being new to the area, will most likely spend some time moving through the rest of the Sabi Sand, trying to establish whether or not there is a good place to settle. The open grasslands in Londolozi’s south west have been popular with cheetah before, but other factors like rival predator activity could determine whether or not these five cats stay.

Female Cheetah Cubs Jt

The two cubs keep an eye on a herd of impala on a nearby crest, but probably realise that they would be out of their depth in attempting to catch one. Their mother can just be seen, out of focus in the background.

Personally my money would be on the female and cubs sticking around, purely because of females’ non-territorial nature. They moved off Londolozi to the west quite soon after they arrived, but that’s the beauty of an open ecosystem like the Sabi Sand Reserve. Here one day, gone the next. Neighbouring reserves have reported their movements, if not from sightings then from their tracks. Our hope is obviously that the female raises the cubs in the area, and we can enjoy more spectacular viewing like in 2013 and ’14.

Male Cheetahs Kp 2

One of the two young males was chased up a marula tree by a pair of hyenas, and had to wait patiently before he felt it was safe to climb down…

Male Cheetahs Kp 3

…which he did with as much grace as he could. This Photograph and one above by Kevin Power.

The males I don’t think will stick around. There is certainly room for them, but the presence of the resident male might be enough of a deterrent, causing them to seek life elsewhere.

As fantastic as it would be for the cheetah population of the greater Londolozi area to sit at 6 for the foreseeable future, optimistically I think 4 is what we should hope for, but we should have our expectations remain at 1, just so we don’t get too disappointed if the new arrivals head back into the fastness of the 6 million hectares of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.


Filed under Featured 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 ...

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on Londolozi Cheetah Population Rises 500%

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Marinda Drake

Great news that the cheetah population increased. The two males look very young.

Joanne Wadsworth

Excitement and spectulation is on the rise with the arrival of these cheetahs! Let’s hope they choose to stay at Londolozi a bit longer for everyone’s enjoyment. These images are truly stunning!

Darlene Knott

Interesting movement by the two groups of cheetah. They are such beautiful animals. It is always a plus for any area to have them since their population is so low. The other predators may make it hard for both groups to survive. Keeping my fingers crossed that both groups stay in the Sabi Sands area! Wishful thinking!

Callum Evans

Fantastic news!! It would be amazing if the female decided to settle on Londolozi for a while. And who knows, maybe the males will decide to come back and establish themselves on the reserve.

Susan Strauss


Mary Beth Wheeler

Love to see that cheetah are back! Hope they stay for awhile!

Denise Vouri

How wonderful to see more cheetahs in your Reserve. I’m with you in the thought process, guessing the males will travel back to Kruger to avoid conflict and to perhaps settle back into a more familiar territory. The subsequent arrival of mom with her two sub adult males, could make for great viewing if they’re not spooked by the vehicles, nor the resident male. More information to come, I’m sure.

Ian Hall

Sounds good, looking forward to some photos (if the cheetahs hang around)

Ian Hall

It makes a change to have a cheetah in a tree story…

Judy Hayden

They are beautiful. This has been a good and a sad year. But the balance of life is a look into the future. Ostriches, lions, leopards and now cheetahs. Can’t wait to hear more about all this new news.

Wendy Macnicol

This is SO interesting. Loved the pics and the story of the Cheetahs! Will be following this with the greatest of interest. Wendy M

Ginger Brucker

Cheers for Cheetahs indeed! Would love to see one-guess it means I will be forced to make another trip to Londolozi-such a hardship 😀

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