Cheetah sightings have been fairly scarce over the last 6 months. The resident male that we used to see so regularly in the south-west of Londolozi has – we believe – met his maker, as there have been no recorded sightings of him for a long time. Having said that, an adult male has been viewed once or twice in that same area over the last week or two, but I doubt it’s the same male. We’ll try to confirm with photographic evidence.
With no more clearly resident male though, the way is open for prospective territorial individuals to move in, and this is exactly what has happened in the form of two young cheetahs that have been viewed consistently over the past couple of weeks.
Having moved in from the east, and originating we presume somewhere in vastness of the Kruger National Park, the pair have likely reached independence sometime over the past year, and are still in the nomadic phase of their young lives.
Cheetah siblings tend to stick together upon reaching independence. Males and females stay together for a couple of months before splitting, but males, much like male lions, form coalitions that have a much better chance of taking down larger prey as well as securing and subsequently defending a territory. Coalitions can number as large as six, but in an area like the Sabi Sand Reserve, which is rife with stronger predators, we are extremely unlikely to see a coalition like that.
As cheetahs invariably do on Londolozi, the young pair in question have made it down to the southern grasslands, where the predator density is slightly lower, and they have a better chance of hanging onto kills and staying out of trouble.
Young cheetahs like this are probably too young to properly establish territory, and ultimately if they did, it would likely only be the male that stuck around. Females tend to be far more nomadic than males, and this one might still wander far and wide before finding an older, unrelated male to mate with, assuming she makes it to sexual maturity.
Maybe they’ll get chased off and disappear back into the Kruger Park, maybe not, but either way, just knowing that the tiniest percentage of the less than 1000 cheetahs in South Africa still find their way here occasionally, dodging leopards, lions, hyenas and the occasional wild dog pack, is a rather nice thought…