In a violent coup, an all-male cheetah pack attacked and killed its leader.
Because of their predominance in the Maasai Mara natural reserve, Kenya’s Tano Bora cheetah pack, known as “the Magnificent Five” in the Maa language, is regarded as a force to be reckoned with.
According to The Australian, big cat experts have been watching this alliance for years. The close kinship between the males, as well as their authority over territory, called into question what many people thought they knew about cheetah behavior.
Male cheetahs frequently form coalitions with siblings to better defend their territory. Particularly when it come to breeding, large coalitions, such as the splendid five, are extremely rare, as it usually becomes a competition for domination sooner or later.
The pack was made up of two brothers from one family and three from another. Olpadan became leader as he would initiate hunts and lead the group across rough terrain.
But the partnership was brought to an end when the members turned on the leader of the pack, Olpadan. He was found dead in January with wounds all over his body by wildlife photographer Jeffery Wu, who has been capturing the movements of the pack for several years.
In an Instagram post, Wu said Olpadan’s four former allies ran from the scene with “bloody paws.”
On Instagram, he said Olpadan had broken off from the group last year and formed a new partnership with a younger male, who the gang then had to compete with. This may have been the catalyst for January’s gruesome coup.
Wu said male cheetahs will not tolerate other males in their area to compete with for breeding rights. “Even if it’s a former mate of the group, that is the rule of the jungle,” he said.
Wu said that officially, there is no more Tano Bora, there is only ‘Nne Bora’, which means ‘The Magnificent Four.’
“Nature is cruel sometimes,” Wu said.
Cheetahs are endangered. There are only estimated to be around 7,000 left in the world, and their population is decreasing. They face extinction pressure from climate change, hunting by humans, and loss of habitat, but they also have a low rate of reproductive success.
This means that competitions over breeding rights in male coalitions can be brutal, leading to coups such as this one.
This article by Robyn White was first published by Newsweek on 10 February 2022. Lead Image: A stock photo shows a collation of male cheetah. Male cheetah’s usually stick to smaller groups or pairs. Surbs279/Getty images.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.