January 6: There is very limited satellite data for the female this week, although the most recent point is from this very morning and places her much closer to Keerweder than before. It would be nice to see her back out in the pan, but only she can decide that.
The boys on the other hand have been running all over the place during the last few days. There are no points suggesting that they may have met the newly returned female, but they did move briefly north to the base of the mountains, and most recently headed up to the vicinity of the Bushman Koppies.
The following is a report from the wardens at NamibRand that might explain the limited data:
We had 19 mm of rain on 1 January (this maximum was measured at Keerweder, Bushman Koppies and Jagkop), and after that all the VHF collars stopped functioning, although the males have been seen since (e.g. 07h00 and 18h00 on 4 January at the cheetah camp). Fortunately the transmitters are working again today, Christine and Lars picked up the males’ signals this morning and we all saw them near the cheetah camp at 08h00.
Neither could a signal be obtained from the VHF transmitter of the female. We tried again today at Draaihoek and Toskaan but no luck; then as we were driving NW of the Toskaan house, we suddenly spotted two cheetahs bounding off – both appeared to be cubs. Then an adult moved into view – with a collar. More likely that this is “Mom” than Shanti? (the GPS position on the road 500m away was -24.87132S 16.08524E, time 10h15). Very exciting! It would be interesting to combine the recent sightings for the males and the female.
It is puzzling why none of the VHF collars were working after the rain – is it possible that they could have been affected by the moisture? There were some very heavy downpours on 1 January.
NamibRand female cheetah
I don’t have the best of news for you. Our female has returned to Hammerstein, to the east of the reserve. As of the morning of the 13th, she was over 5 km outside of the reserve boundary.
Whether she felt threatened by the presence of tourists/vehicles, the five boys, or simply preferred the hunting on the farms is impossible to tell. Perhaps she will return again in the future, but either way I’ll be continuing to monitor her movements.
PS from Laurie: Cheetahs just roam – and females will be using a lot more area than the males will – once she begins to take her cubs around, she will go a bit further regularly. It will be very interesting to see how she moves vs other females!
Since leaving the reserve the female has moved deeper onto Hammerstein and across the border into the Eastern segment of the farm. As of Tuesday afternoon, she was 7 km from the reserve boundary (see map).
Meantime, the boys have also been moving around quite a bit recently, with (presumably) hunting trips to Toskaan, the Bushman Koppies and the south. They also appear to have drunk from Porcupine and Sandgrouse waterholes and on the morning of the 12th, visited Keerweder.
The female has moved again, and I find myself learning a little more of the local geography around NamibRand NR. She has crossed the C19 and left Hammerstein behind. She may have briefly spent time on Swartmodder, but is now on the mountainous looking farm of Omkyk. As of late last night (23:29), she was 16.5 km from the NRNR boundary.