For almost a year now we have been enjoying wonderful cheetah viewing on Londolozi. Although the female and her two offspring may disappear from time to time, they always pop up again. Recently were slightly more concerned after they had been reported heading east into the Kruger National Park, but lo and behold, they were back within two months.
When one considers that there are, we think, two (not one as originally thought) male cheetahs roaming the area, and operating in a similar part of the reserve to the family of three, you have three chances of seeing cheetahs. They can be very hard to find, particularly in the long grass of Summer, but the fact that they are there somewhere (usually) is at least something.
Now, however, the chances of seeing cheetah may have increased. The two sub-adults of the female have been discovered by themselves at least twice in the last few days, prompting speculation that they may be on the brink of independence, and their mother is putting pressure on them to leave her. If that is the case, we may now have an increased chance of finding these often elusive cats, as if they are on the property, the mother and her two cubs will be operating separately from each other.
The young cheetahs were found alone a day or two ago, then back with the mother, then this morning they were found alone again. Both young cheetahs were heard calling for their mother, who did not return, and neither looked like they had the faintest clue what to do next. The worry is that any continuos calling in a predator-rich area like the Sabi Sands will bring unwanted attention to the young cheetahs from rivals like lions, and with their inexperience, this could prove deadly.
Cheetahs are unlike leopards and lions in that from a young age they accompany their mother everywhere. I have never seen the female without her cubs, or the other way around, and so to be suddenly alone in this dangerous environment must be a scary reality to be faced with. Now that they are at an age where they are proving capable – or at least almost capable – of hunting for themselves, there is a good chance that the mother thinks them ready to strike out on her own, and we may well see her seeking new mating opportunities within the next while.
It is still early days, and maybe extenuating circumstances separated the mother from her offspring, but they certainly are at an age when independence has reared its head.
We will follow the young cheetahs closely as much as we can, while we can, to monitor their progress.
Watch this space…
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell