Anne Hilborn

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Fieldwork 2014

September 2014, again


There has been a fair amount of unexpected rain, and with the burning done by the parks staff, this has led to incredibly green swards.  The gazelle and zebra have flocked to them, making Seronera in August look incongruously like the short grass plains in February.





The high density of prey was good for me because I was short on data on cheetah hunting behaviour in high prey density areas.  Usually they are asleep in the long grass with not a gazelle to be seen.  Recently, I was meandering around the short green grass of Boma kopjes when I found Cooper.



Cooper surveys the desolate emptiness of Boma Kopjes without Bradley



He contact called a bit, thought about chasing some gazelle, then lay down under a tree to sleep off the sadness. A bold black backed jackal came up to investigate.  I was impressed as I have seen cheetahs chase jackals with much determination and joy. In fact they love to chase any of the carnivores that are smaller than them.  I blame it on being in the middle of the pecking order, cheetahs have to duck and dive to avoid lions and hyenas, so they take out their frustration by chasing jackals, servals, and anything else that is small and furry.  



I once watched Apollo do nothing about Bacchus’s bloody face for hours after eating. Hours I tell you!

However recently I found Apollo and Bacchus and there was a gratifying amount of bonding between them and I softened my harsh assessment of their behavior.

However Cooper evidently couldn’t care less about the jackal, who having sniffed his full, wandered off.

Bradley and Cooper are very devoted brothers ( I have great series of pictures of them spooning and grooming), and finding no Bradley worried me.  But I cheered myself with the thought that he was probably out on the shag.  Cheetah brothers will sometimes approach females togeather and sometimes one of them will sneak off to get a mating to himself.  The other explanation for his absence was that he was dead.  An explanation I wasn’t keen to consider, so I was very very pleased when Dennis found both of them together and fat about a week later.




The other pair of brothers in the Seronera area are Apollo and Bacchus.  They may have been godlike once but now they are mangy and cross looking and if it wasn’t frowned upon to rename cheetahs (special cases being made if the cheetah is named after someone you now hate like an ex boyfriend or his mother), I was very tempted to rename them Preserved and Killick after the character in Patrick O’ Brian’s nautical historical novels (which I listen to ad nauseam while on follows).  As well as being physically unprepossessing, they display a distinct lack of brotherly affection towards each other that I find troubling.

Richard and Armitage would never let that happen

Neither would Bradley and Cooper

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