Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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After the collar stopped transmitting Nataanywe was seen with 4 cubs in late August. The cubs were already following her when they were seen, making them at least 5 weeks old. In October two of the cubs were killed by lions.
She has been a good mother to the remaining two cubs and to data the one male and one female are still travelling with their mother. Cosmas and I spent time in the Samburu and Buffalo Springs Reserves looking for her to project a de-collaring date. On the first day we heard that she had been seen by tourists the previous morning, so we scoured the area of the "wire bridge" near Larsen's Camp. We had no luck in finding her.
The next morning we received word that she was seen across the river in an area called "Sainai." When we arrived we found a mother cheetah with one cub... but it was not Nataanywe. After speaking to some drivers we were told that this mother was the only one in the area, so we returned to the Samburu side. In the evening we dined with other drivers at the Sopa Lodge and were told that Nataanywe and her two cubs were seen, but a bit higher along the Sainai ridge.
We returned to the area in Bufflo on the third morning, and again found the first mother and her single cub. In the coolness of the morning the new mother killed a dikdik (snak-a-lope) but refused to share it with her son. I found that an odd behaviour because I have always seen cheetahs generously sharing their meals with eachother.
This time the drivers alerted us to where Nataanywe was seen. We scoured the area for several hours that morning without success - in the afternoon we returned just before the tourists came out for afternoon drives. Vultures were circling in the area we had searched earlier in the day. Under a large acacia tree we found the vultures on the remains of a large impala. The cheetahs had to be in the area! And well fed they should not have gone far. Sure enough we were soon alerted that tour drivers had found Natanywe again. A short distance off of the road lay three cheetahs with bellies that looked about to explode. Nataanywe was alert - so we could clearly see the fit of the collar. Shee and her cubs mus have eaten nearly the whole impala. She is a good mother.
Once the cubs are old enough we can remove the collar from Nataanywe. Although she has remained within the park boundaries most of the time there are still months at a time where she has been out of sight. from the first tracking data it seems that she remains within the sanctuary, but out of sight most of the time. We will meet with KWS and with the county council wardens prior to making the decision on re-collaring.
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