The cheetah is a specialized felid that feeds itself exclusively with living preys, mainly small gazelles and antilopes. These preys are becoming more and more scarce in the areas where farmers live.

The cheetah, which used to wander on limitless territories, has now no other choice but to hunt within the very limited area of the reserve. It then finds itself in fierce and direct competition with other competitors. Very often the big African predators such as the lions, the leopards and the hyenas above all steal the leopards catch.

As the cheetah cannot take the risk of being injured during a fight it would lose for sure (the injury would weaken it and prevent it from capturing its preys and condemn it to a certain death) it quickly abandons the fruit of its hunt to its opportunistic rivals. On top of that, the females which are solitary and living away from any social organization, breed their offspring on their own. As a result, the cubs lose their way and are often found and killed by such predators as lions, hyenas, chacals, baboons or pythons and sometimes even by stray dogs. One litter, usually made of six cubs, can be killed in no time !

The reasons for the fall in the number of cheetahs are complex and the causes multiple. It would be risky to try to find them and to name them with certainty. However, with 25 years of on the ground observation and experience we can assert the following elements :

  • The young cheetahs are victims of a high and worrying mortality rate that has no equivalent among other species and that is far too high to allow the survival of the species.
  • Once very wide, the reserve is now limited to a very small surface of 1500 km2 where one can find most of the great fauna.
  • The pressure of human activities has tremendously increased inside and outside the reserve.
  • The intrusion of increasingly bigger herds of domestic cattle by day or by night is an important factor of disturbance.
  • The cheetah is a fragile species , it cannot compete with mightier species.
  • The disturbance caused by certain careless actors of the tourism industry is conspicuous.
  • The age old ecosystem of the Masai Mara shrubs has transformed into wide areas of grassy plains because of uncontrolled land burning. The bushes that were necessary to hide and protect the young cheetahs have dramatically been reduced.
  • The unusually high number of spotted hyenas, which are the predators of the very young cheetahs and the competitors with bigger cheetahs is a factor that is weakening the species.
  • Litters of young cheetahs " disappear " sometimes overnight without any trace of natural predation being established (poaching.... trafficking of young cheetahs.... ).