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Two cheetahs eating zebra carcass in Mugie Conservancy, Kenya
Zuri and Amaka feast on a Burchell’s zebra

Written by Elizabeth Odegaard

Almost two years ago, Amaka the cheetah was found with a broken hind leg. He limped severely and, as he couldn’t hunt, his health deteriorated rapidly and we all feared the injury would be fatal.

Although cheetahs are solitary creatures, males (often brothers) form coalitions and defend their territory together. Amaka, and his brother Zuri, have done just this, and at six years old have spent their lives as companions and compatriots.

So, when Amaka was injured, because of their close bond and reliance on each other as hunting partners, Zuri was very unsettled by his brother’s injury. He was often found travelling ahead of Amaka, yapping at him to follow.

The fact that Zuri and Amaka not only continue to survive, but thrive, is amazing. Zuri carries out a hunt on his own, and then calls Amaka to the kill. The utter synchronicity with which they live is rare, and unbelievable.

Cheetah in Mugie Conservancy, Kenya
Amaka sits in wait for Zuri

There are just over 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, confined to just 9% of their historic range. This extreme decline is due to a lack of prey (from poaching and habitat destruction), vulnerability to humans (cheetahs are often in conflict with farmers because they are a threat to livestock), high mortality of cheetah cubs (as they frequently fall prey to lions, jackals, hyenas, and birds of prey), and the primary reason – habitat loss due to human encroachment and urbanisation (and drastic increases in population of human and domestic animals).

At Mugie – where we tirelessly try to protect and educate about the importance of cheetahs – we have lost several animals to retaliation by angry herders. A precious population of only a few cheetah remains at Mugie.

Cheetah sitting with tree in background, Mugie Conservancy, Kenya
Amaka sits at ‘The Sundowner Tree’

Fortunately Zuri is collared, and has given us tremendous insight into his, and Amaka’s, movements and behaviour. Satellite imagery of his travel around Mugie have shown that there are four distinct places where he and his brother cross the existing road. In addition to these places, camera traps and observations have identified four more road crossings used by other wildlife. As the road through Mugie becomes paved, it is imperative that we build wildlife corridors – the survival of the wild animals relies on it, and with dwindling populations of many species, it is vital to their conservation.

Zuri’s collar no longer works, the battery has exhausted its lifespan and the Cheetah and Wild Dog Project that originally funded the collar and the collaring doesn’t have the funds to replace it. Also, two new, elusive, young cheetahs have been spotted around Mugie, a male and a female, and we would like to raise funds to collar these animals, so as to protect them from farmers, and to track their movements.

Man standing with satellite in Mugie Conservancy, Kenya
Head guide George is silhouetted by the setting sun as he listens for a signal from the receiver

We are raising funds to support the collaring of two additional animals, as well as replacing Zuri’s collar, and to build wildlife corridors in the most appropriate locations.

Proceeds from The Mugie Triathlon in October 2018, will go toward the conservation projects that Mugie is undertaking to safe-guard the future. For more information about participation in the triathlon, or to find out how you can support this vital work, please contact mugiecamp@ekorian.com.

Cheetah walking in grasslands in Mugie Conservancy, Kenya
Clara, another of Mugie’s precious cheetah, prowls the grasslands with a safari vehicle keeping a comfortable distance behind © Ekorian’s Mugie Camp
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Ekorian's Mugie Camp

Ekorian’s Mugie Camp is based at the heart of The Mugie Conservancy in Northern Laikipia, Kenya. Ample activities keep the whole family entertained, while the conservancy boasts abundant and diverse populations of birds and wildlife. An enriching safari experience!