Ever wonder what a cheetah’s visit to a playtree looks like? This video was captured while monitoring two males that CCF released into Erindi Private Game Reserve. In addition to leaving their own scent in the form of scat and urine (and maybe even from scratching), you can see how interested these males are in the other scents left by previous visitors to the tree, including other cheetahs and even leopards.
Playtrees are very important for cheetah social behaviour. As cheetahs aren’t strictly territorial like leopards or lions, they must effectively communicate with other individuals living within the same area to avoid unexpected encounters (which between unrelated males or coalitions of males, could result in a fight to the death). So, playtrees and other scent posts provide cheetahs a way of communicating with one another without having to risk direct contact.
When investigating a playtree, the cheetah can learn who else is in the area, what their route of travel likely was (and thus areas to avoid), and if anyone is available for courting. Afterward they leave their own scent to communicate the same details to the tree’s next visitor.