It was worrying news. In the past few days, just before our visit to the Wilderness Safaris Hwange National Park Linkwasha Concession, the two local cheetah brothers had parted ways. These two were great friends, brothers and they loved one another. The one left behind, so to speak, was the one who had nursed a sore paw for a very long time. In that time, his brother led the charge in the hunts and was successful in keeping his injured brother well fed so that he was able to make a full recovery.
It was reported that the brothers had a brotherly ‘tiff’ that caused the stronger one to peel off, leaving a fairly distraught cheetah brother behind. He moaned and cried for nights on end. I have never heard the sound of a cheetah wailing – it sounds similar to a bird chirp, almost impossible to associate it with this spotted cat. Of course, the real cause of the split was totally, 100% to do with a woman. Somewhere a cheetah female must have been on heat and the strong call of nature that sends its message on the scent of a breeze to reach the dominant male caused the big brother to respond. For a couple of days one brother was nowhere to be seen.
But then, one day when we were on our way back to camp, around 11h00, on the road between Back Pans and Linkwasha Camp, the silhouette of two cheetah heads in amongst the tall grass was unmistakable. Very close to the side of the road we saw them clearly as they relaxed in the shadow of the large leadwood. We rolled into camp with the good news of brothers reunited, a very happy update to broadcast.
Another remarkable cheetah that has to be mentioned here is the Mother-of-Four. Actually, she was the Mother-of-Five, but one of her cubs did not survive. She has raised four strapping, handsome, strong and regal cubs just shy of full adulthood. Guests spotted her when she was walking through the teak forest area between Ngamo Plains and Back Pans. The guests were heading back to camp after a morning of activity at Ngamo that had been totally thrilling, so to round that off with five cheetah in the road was just remarkable.
Later that afternoon, we went in search of the mother but were distressed to hear that a troop of baboons had chased her back from her intended route. Angry at the baboons, we changed direction and headed back to Ngamo, only to be called by camp to say that this incredible female cheetah had made her way, as intended, despite the baboons’ attempts to scare her off. In a dry sandy pan at the back of Linkwasha Camp, in the dappled golden light, we eventually found her and her young family lying in their typically cheetah-like way, on their sides with their heads awkwardly raised to look around. We stayed with them until the light faded and then left her to tuck in for the night, and keep herself and her impressive family safe for another day, another night.