Many visitors to Mashatu Game Reserve will be familiar with the three cheetah brothers that have formed a coalition. These three boys are known locally as the Ma’wire coalition. The name comes from the most dominant of the three who was caught in a wire snare years ago and is easily recognizable by the scar he still bears.
Most sightings of these three cheetahs are of them together and working as a team. Let a female in oestrus enter their territory however and things become completely different. Each individual will go off on their own to try find the females. If they come into contact with each other they’ll show aggression towards each other.
While switching off the vehicle on drive this morning and listening, we heard the unique calls of the three cheetahs trying to locate the female from three different directions. Cheetahs do not roar as do lions and leopards which is why they are in a separate genus of their own, namely, Acinonyx. They produce bird like sounds to communicate. Finding all three of the cheetahs proved very easy as we followed each of their calls respectively.
It was quite comical watching them racing off from one direction to the next with a sense of urgency, knowing that if they don’t find her first one of their brothers would beat them to it.
At 16 years of age, these three brothers are very experienced and have no doubt fathered many offspring between them. The average lifespan for cheetah in the wild is between 12 and 16 years. At 16, the Ma’wire boys don’t look like they are at the end of their lifespan at all and I’m sure they’ll father few more litters yet, clearly passing on some good genes.
Among the offspring they have sired is a family of three brothers that are about a year old now. If these three boys stick together they will be able to form a strong coalition and carry on the family legacy for years to come.
Images and text by: Janet Kleyn
Image is by Photo Vehicle Guest Barry Miller