Cheetahs of Maasai Mara National Reserve

Cheetahs of Maasai Mara National Reserve : If you don’t go to the Masai Mara for Safari, your trip to Kenya won’t be complete. The Maasai Mara National Reserve, which located in the southwest of Kenya, has boundless plains and a wealth of species.

The huge wildebeest migration and the presence of big cats are two of the reserve’s most well-known features. Leopard, lion, and cheetah sightings are common and can be seen anywhere within the park because they are in plenty. One of the most sought after animals in Maasai Mara National Reserve  is the Cheetahs, They can be easily seen in the reserve since they are well adapted to the flat plains of the Maasai Mara. One of the highlights of safari tour lovers is seeing a cheetah in action hunting its prey.

The five cheetah brothers who hunt together are famous for the Maasai Mara. What makes these cheetahs unique, and why are they the star attraction in Maasai Mara?

The Maasai Mara Cheetahs

The fastest animal in the world has a comfortable home in Maasai Mara between the lion pride and gorgeous leopards. Cheetahs can run at speeds of up to 110 kilometres per hour, while not being as powerful as leopards or as threatening as lions.

One of the best sites in the world to see cheetahs in their native environment is the Maasai Mara National Reserve. They can occasionally be seen sitting on a car bonnet as well as atop termite mounds and trees. These predators scan the savannah for prey with their keen eyes.

A cheetah kills in a way that is exclusive to its species. They approach their prey slowly before seizing the opportunity to dash for it and pursue them. They suffocate their prey until there is no longer any life in it by grabbing it by the throat. This wonderful hunting skills by the cheetahs is a frequent event for visitors on Kenya safari tours to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

Cheetahs are sprinters, hence they are unable to keep up a fast pace for very long. Therefore, they stop up the pursuit if they haven’t captured their victim in about 100 metres. Cheetahs only consume fresh flesh and because of that, if a hyena or vulture begins to consume their food, they retreat and begin searching for other prey.

How cheetahs hunt

Unless they are in a group, cheetahs hunt alone by nature. Typically, brothers from the same pack get together to establish these coalitions. They hardly ever join forces with another cheetah pack. When there is only one male in the litter, this frequently happens.

At 18 to 23 months, a child reaches sexual maturity. The average litter size is three to six cubs, and the gestation period lasts roughly three months. Although there is no specific breeding season, most births take place in the wet season. Cubs weigh between 250 and 300 grams at birth. During the first few months of life, its dark fur is thought to provide better camouflage and increased protection from high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night. Its fur also has a thick, yellowish-grey mane along the back. In the wild, mortality rates for newborn cubs can reach 90%, frequently as a result of other predators.

An adult cheetah measures 44 to 56 inches (112 to 142 centimetres) long, weighs 75 to 140 pounds (34 to 64 kilogrammes), stands approximately 30 inches (77 centimetres) tall at the shoulder, and has a tail that measures an additional 26 to 33 inches (66 to 84 centimetres) in length. Compared to females, males are slightly bigger. Cheetahs are occasionally mistaken for leopards, but you can tell them apart by the unique black stripes on their faces. When they sprint, the black lines that run down their faces and behind their eyes serve as glare-reducing devices.

Male cheetahs engage in cooperative hunting to capture larger prey. Female cheetahs hunt by themselves, unlike males, with the exception of their offspring. When the cubs are 20 months old, the mother cheetah abandons them. However, the siblings remain a unit for months. The female and male cheetahs separate after they achieve sexual maturity. A male cheetah can choose to hunt alone or in a pack with other male cheetahs.

Cheetahs of Maasai Mara National Reserve
Cheetahs of Maasai Mara National Reserve

Famous Five Brothers of Maasai Mara National Reserve

What makes the Maasai Mara’s five brothers so renowned and their family so unique? The five young male cheetahs were originally spotted in Maasai Mara in 2016. It was noted at the time that the group consisted of two distinct components. Two of the guys were initially bigger than the other three, according to Africa Geographic.

The Tana Bona alliance, which in the native Maa language translates as “The Magnificent Five,” was given to this striking and formidable group. Additionally, each male member of the group has been given a local name:

  • Olpadan, which is Maa for “Great Shooter,”
  • Olarishani, which in Maa means “Judge,”
  • In Maa, the name Leboo means “one who is always with the group.”
  • Winda – Kiswahili for “Hunter”
  • Olonoyok is Maa for “the one who works hard to get better results.”

The amazing quartet has gained not just international recognition but also fame throughout Africa. A coalition guarantees a larger territory, access to favourable habitat and prey, the sharing of patrol and vigilance obligations, and finally, stronger defence against competitors.

The tough hunters

After separating from his sister, Olpadan grew and became recognised as the dominant male in Tana Bona within a short period of time. He frequently took the lead and proved to be a skilled hunter.

By the middle of 2017, Olarishani shared leadership of Tana Bona with another male, and the two males alternated in deciding how to travel and approach their victim.

Olpadan’s leadership, sadly, was short-lived because his own two teammates forced him to take a catastrophic injury. Olpadan dropped from first to last after being ranked first. Olapadan was replaced by Olarishani and Winda, who took over as the group’s leaders.

Olpadan was desperately trying to join another coalition by the middle of 2019. He attempted to work together with a younger group of two cheetahs, but this was unsuccessful.

When his three teammates Leboo, Winda, and Olonoyok showed up the following day, he gave up on his efforts. Olpadan was slowly accepted by the three participants before they all started hunting together.

Olpadan joined Tana Bona’s activities as the very last participant. Oddly enough, Olonoyok, who was frequently intimidated by Olpadan when he was the leader, ended up being the one who tolerated and even trained Olpadan!

The Tana Bona alliance, which is four years old and still going strong, experiences dynamic changes in their connection. The cheetahs are between five and five and a half years old and continue to travel in a pack.

One might compare witnessing the well-known five brothers in the Maasai Mara National Reserve to seeing celebrities. Make sure you see the Tana Bona brothers the next time you are in Maasai Mara!

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