5 March

Look who's back

Two females reappear in our study area

Cheetahs are one of the world’s true nomadic species – females do not hold territories and instead, in Serengeti, have home ranges of about 800km2, whilst some males do hold territories many never do and instead have home ranges similar in size to those of the females. This means that we can often go for several months without seeing some of our study cheetahs – none of the cheetahs we follow are radio collared and so if they move out of our study area we do not know where they go. Usually individuals will disappear for a few weeks or months before returning, often these journeys coincide with the onset of dry or wet season and the movement of the gazelle herds. What is much more unusual is for one of our cheetahs to disappear for several years before returning, which is exactly what has happened in the past few weeks, not just once but twice!

Serengeti Cheetah Project first met Rosalind when she was still a tiny 6 week old cub with her mother Paprika back in 2006. She lived in and around the Ndutu area for the next few years and in 2010 she introduced us to her first litter of cubs. Sadly only one of these cubs survived, a handsome young male who has since moved up further north in Serengeti and teamed up with another young male to form a coalition. Whilst her cub was still dependent, he and Rosalind were seen several times up until early 2011. He returned to the study area a year or so later with his new friend but Rosalind was nowhere to be seen, that is until January this year. After an absence of almost two years Rosalind returned to Ndutu, this time with three young cubs in tow!

Even more remarkable is the story of Marleen. Marleen originally moved into our study area back in 2007 as a young adult, probably fairly soon after she had become independent of her mother. She seemed to like the area around Ndutu and Kusini and was seen there regularly for the next few years up until early 2010. After this time she disappeared and wasn’t seen until the beginning of this year, making her absence a total of three long years!

It’s always exciting when we get these good news sightings – now we just have to hope that Rosalind and Marleen will decide to stay around for a while!