Cheetah Cubs Make Their First Kill

In August 2018, three cheetah cubs were spotted without their mum – for more than two days. Cheetah cubs stick close to their mothers until they are 18 months old and capable of executing a hunt on their own. For this reason, it was highly unlikely that the mother would have left her 7-8 month old cubs on her own accord.

Based on the “vulnerable” status of the species on the IUCN Red List, management decided to intervene. By collaring one individual in the group, management has since been able to monitor their progress and supplement meals where necessary.

But would these young cheetah cubs ever learn to hunt?

Chasing down prey might be instinctive, but the intricacies that make a hunt successful are not. A mother cheetah plays an integral role in teaching her cubs how to bring down their prey, direct a bite to the throat and hold their victim down in a successful stranglehold.

The youngsters are extremely vigilant of their surroundings and have managed to avoid larger predators on the reserve, and now they have made their first kill!

While out on drive, Site 55 tracked down the cubs, only to find that they had managed to take down an impala lamb on a narrow road next to the side of a mountain. The cubs had managed to drag the carcass a few meters off the road where they proceeded to consume the entire animal.

Coincidentally, the owners of Site 55 had sponsored the re-collaring procedure that had been conducted only days before. It is only fit that they would be the ones to witness the cubs’ first kill.

Thanks to professional guidance from cheetah specialists like Dr. Peter Caldwell and EWT, monitoring efforts by our research team, and decision making by conservation manager, Samuel Davidson-Phillips, the three young cheetah are in perfect condition and are clearly making a “speedy” transition towards independence. Well done team! And well done cubs!

Photographs taken by Samuel Davidson-Phillips, Welgevonden Conservation Manager