A few weeks ago, the Lion Guardian team was out on a report following the tracks of two females and one male lion. We were slowly traversing the golden bushy landscape of the Selenkay Conservancy on the Eselenkei Group Ranch when out of the tawny grass we saw an ear flicker. CHEETAH! Two Cheetahs were lounging in under a small bush.
As they picked up their heads and noticed us, more spotted bodies began to rustle in the grass next to them. Soon we counted three cheetahs, four cheetahs, five cheetahs and up to eight cheetahs!!! They were all large and it was hard to tell how many were adults and how many were sub-adults. The habitat was perfect for cheetahs, plenty of open grasslands and termite mounds to perch on.
We see cheetahs here regularly, but never this many together! We sat watching them for a while before the sun dipped low and five got up and trotted off to the east and three to the south.
What makes this all the more amazing and special is that this is not a government protected area, but a communally-owned Maasai group ranch. The abundant wildlife is due to the conservation efforts of the Eselenkei community members and the Selenkay Conservancy, ran by Porini Gamewatchers. Just as lions live and thrive on these community lands, other large felines do too. Large groups of cheetahs are an unusual sighting, even in protected areas such as Serengeti NP and Maasai Mara Reserve where cheetah are seen with regularity, so we feel extra special to have spotted (pun intended!) eight cheetahs here in an area where people and wildlife share the same land and resources. Just yesterday the Guardians came across the tracks of the eight cheetahs in the same area. The Guardians are working to keep the cheetahs safe by warning local herders to keep their livestock away from the area to avoid any unpleasant encounters between the special spotted cats and livestock.