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Savannah's lost litter

By 6 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

Savannah, one of the two female cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) on Karongwe, has recently lost her litter of cubs. Of the original litter of three that were born in mid-May, only two made it out of the den. The two survivors followed Savannah across the length and breadth of the reserve as she sought after prey and safety. At one point, a motorist on the adjacent gravel road reported that one of her cubs had managed to escape the reserve. However, it wasn’t long before GVI responded and helped chase the cub back in through an open gate to rejoin their visibly distressed mother and sibling.

On September 2nd, Savannah was seen by GVI again, but with only one cub in tow. Cheetah cub mortality is naturally very high. The Africa Wildlife Foundation (www.awf.org) puts it 50% – 75% for cubs under 3 months old.

Savannah was spotted again on the 13th of September, along the Northern fence line. Surrounded by lion tracks, the carcass of her last cub was found lying in the road where Savannah was pacing. The pride of lions had passed through the previous night and quickly dispatched of the 4 month old cheetah. Savannah, it seems was able to escape without injury. While Savannah was seen pacing and contact calling in the area for two more days, we are pleased to report that she moved away and killed a Bushbuck on the 16th.

While it is sad for us to witness the demise of yet another cheetah litter, we must remember that this remains a very natural process and it will not be long before Savannah will be ready to mate again. In contrast, Ketswiri, our other female is proving to be very successful in her fifth attempt. Her two remaining cubs are thriving and are growing fast at nearly 6 months old. While there is the constant threat from lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), Spotted Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and the various other predators on Karongwe, the longer these cubs survive, the greater their chances of evading enemies.

Andreas Fox, Base Manager, Karongwe