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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great news that the cheetah population increased. The two males look very young.
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!
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!
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.
Love to see that cheetah are back! Hope they stay for awhile!
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.
Sounds good, looking forward to some photos (if the cheetahs hang around)
It makes a change to have a cheetah in a tree story…
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.
This is SO interesting. Loved the pics and the story of the Cheetahs! Will be following this with the greatest of interest. Wendy M
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 ?