WHAT WE DO


ON THE GROUND

The cheetah is a highly appreciated animal. It is no doubt one of the most charismatic animal species on earth. This appeal for the cheetah, which is a magnificent ambassador of the African savannah fauna, has brought about the development of a respectful eco tourism even if there is a fragile balance between the touristic pressure and the requirements of a species that is particularly sensitive to disturbance.

The female cheetah leads a solitary existence during all her life. Far from any organized group, she hunts and breeds her offspring alone. The young cheetahs ( litter varies from 4 to 8 cubs) are given birth to hidden among bushes that are becoming rarer due to decades of uncontrolled land burning. This vegetation being highly sought after by big predators looking for shade when it gets hot.

When it goes hunting, its quest for preys takes it far from its offspring. Often miles away and for many hours. The cubs which are unable to move during their first weeks of life are then particularly vulnerable. The lions for instance, when spotting a litter, force the female to flee and then kill all the cubs. The mother herself is killed when trying to courageously and desperately defend them.

The Masai farmers also scare the females when they illegally enter into the reserve at night, forcing them to flee away from their offspring. It then takes no time for the dogs which come along with the herds to locate and kill the young cheetahs. Finally, one hyena alone is enough to kill a whole litter when the mother is away.

 

THE FIGURES PROVIDED BY SCIENTISTS ARE QUITE TELLING AND REQUIRE NO COMMENTS : THEY SHOW THAT ONLY ONE CHEETAH OUT OF 20 WILL BECOME AN ADULT. IN THE MASAI-MARA IT SEEMS THAT THE FIGURES ARE EVEN MORE WORRYING.

 

From this fact, we figured out that a simple surveillance by day as well by night of the females raising their cubs with the help of brigades and of vehiculed Masai rangers could significantly limit the predation or the destruction of the litters.

 

This active surveillance is limited to a period that goes from their birth to the moment when they are 5 or 6 months old. This is an age when they are able to follow their mother and then to run away more easily from a possible predator.

 

The vehicle of the monitoring teams can be used to defend the cheetahs or to fend off potential predators or poachers. Sometimes, these sworn in agents can leave the vehicle as the mere human figure is enough to frighten and cause to run away even the most powerful felids.

 

The same agents can easily prevent the confrontation between the domestic herds and the litters.


Besides, the surveillance teams that are present twenty four hours a day limit and put an end to the acts of the poachers and traffickers as well as to the disturbance caused by unscrupulous tourist guides (this disturbance can for example hinder the cheetah's hunt).


In no case physical contact is established with the cheetahs nor any capture , veterinary acts or collar use carried out. In case veterinary care is needed, it depends only and exclusively on the authority and responsibility of the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service).


With these teams we hope to limit the mortality of the young cheetahs and to significantly raise their chances of reaching adulthood.

 


Given that an only cheetah, prematurely deprived of its siblings is much less armed for its future survival.

- The games of early life are paramount for its education and for efficient learning. They allow early learning of the indispensable hunting techniques as the cheetahs exclusively feed themselves with living preys that they must capture.

- The males gather in hunting groups when they are adults, which significantly improves the rate of successful hunts.

- Furthermore, siblings can more easily protect their preys as they are often stolen by rival species. Being many allows a better surveillance when for example a group of lions is approaching.



This program is accepted, approved and monitored by the authorities of the Kenya Wildlife Service, by the Narok County government and by Maasai Mara University.

The second part of the program, which was anounced more than two years ago, deals with the education of the young Maasai kids who live in the neighbouring areas of the reserve.

A library was built and offered to the village of Mararianta which is right along the park. It is run by the Maasai community itself but financed by the program. Its strategic location, in the immediate vicinity of one of the most attended schools of the village, allows us to already work and collaborate with the authorities and the teachers. We have equipped it with a solar power production unit and with audio-visual devices which will allow, among other things, to show entertaining and educating as well as wildlife documentaries. Some of them will be produced by our team and are being edited right now.


This adapted teaching is first of all aimed at dealing with environmental issues as well as with the conflicts between men and wildlife within the ecosystem of the Maasai Mara. It highlights the sometimes irreversible damage its biodiversity suffers from, the rapid and programmed loss of big felids and the multiple causes of their vanishing and its consequences for the community in the short or long run.


The foowing activities are regularly organized for the school children : educating outings, safari visions, collecting of plastic waste, plantation programs of local trees...