Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dogs and cats are thriving in southern Hwange!

Cheetah HNP013 with her litter of cubs earlier this year

Following on the amazing story of Cusp the wild dog, Imvelo Safari Lodges reports that the five cheetah cubs born in May of this year are thriving! Female cheetah HNP013 (we're still waiting for a proper name!), born in 2011 and who is regularly spotted on game drives from Bomani and Camelthorn Lodges, has turned out to be a "super mom" to her litter of 5 cubs on the Bomani Concession!

The cubs are regularly spotted on game drives and walks
Although litter sizes can range from 1 to 6 cubs, the average litter size is 3, so 5 is quite a large litter! Cheetahs give birth to cubs in a lair and will regularly move them to different lairs until the age of about 2 months, which is when the cubs will start following the mother and feed on solid food. Cubs are born with a mantle of fur running from the back of the neck down to the rump. This clever disguise aids in camouflaging them (making them look like honey badgers) in the high grass while they are following their mother. This mane-like feature begins to disappear at the age of 3 months, but still remains visible at 2 years of age.

The fur color of a newborn cub is medium gray, which gradually evolves into the adult colors by the age of 4 months. Now 8 months old, the cubs in HNP013's litter are still doing exceptionally well and we are so happy to see them thriving! They will stay with their mother until they are 15 - 24 months old before dispersing. Sadly, new born cheetah have a very low survival rate, so the fact that all 5 of these cubs are still thriving speaks to the success of this female at raising cubs and guests have loved sharing in this experience on their game drives and walks from Bomani Tented Lodge and Camelthorn Lodge.

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