August Rangers Digest – Cheetah edition

So much is happening at Buffalo Thorn Lodge and in the Pilanesberg. This extinct alkaline volcano is the place to be. It’s only one of three such volcanic structures in the world. It’s also teeming with wildlife. We have decided this month to dedicate our newsletter to the fastest mammals on the planet i.e., the cheetah. Speed is their strength, but that is no secret. Their real super-power is their agility & ability to make rapid changes in direction at high speed. Their gift in this regard is a heavy tail that performs the role of a built for purpose rudder. As it swishes, switches & cuts through the air, so does the cheetahs perfectly sculptured body. The cheetahs aerodynamic head & flexible spine together with all its other specialisms work in perfect synchronicity to survive & thrive. Their long legs (that would make a supermodel cry) completes the picture. With the current statistics, there are roughly 7100 cheetahs left on the African continent. To conserve them the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) started a Cheetah Meta-population Program in 2011. The goal of the project is to manage the Southern African cheetah population and to maximize Genetic diversity.

Currently in the Greater Pilanesberg there are only 8 Cheetahs of which 5 are cubs. They need vast open spaces and huge tracks of land to roam. Due to human encroachment on natural resources, cheetahs in Southern Africa are predominantly found in game reserves and in protected areas.

‘Rain’ the oldest female cheetah currently has two cubs that are about a year old. She has a track record as a very successful mother. Her life however, now hangs in the balance as she injured her back left leg. Given her age, treatment is difficult and only time will tell if she pulls through.

‘Tale’ pronounced ’tah-leh’ the female offspring of Rain’s 2/3 litter, takes after her mother as being one of the best moms, and almost always raises her cubs to maturity. She normally prefers raising her cubs on Black Rhino for its vast open plains and proximity to the mountains. These are dense areas and ideal for concealing her cubs. She currently has 3 cubs. The cubs still resemble little honey badgers. It’s a form of biomimicry i.e., they resemble something dangerous, forcing predators to think twice before attempting to attack them. There are not many creatures in the bush, that will willingly take on honey badgers. 

The two most recent independent males were Tale’s sons. They have been making a name for themselves as being hunters with a more than reasonable kill rate. These boys were destined for relocation. This is in support of the meta-population program, and in order to continue with the biodiversity in genetics.

Here are some pictures of their relocation to the Welgevonden game reserve in Limpopo. Our very own Jumari got to hold up the drip. Thanks to both rangers at Buffalo Thorn Lodge for assisting with this initiative. 

The last remaining male cheetah have been scarce. They have however been spotted in the West of Pilanesberg and are doing well. It was a coalition of father and son but got separated by a pride of lions and one has not been seen since. We can only speculate that the lions got the better of one.

So in honour of Cheetah month at Buffalo Thorn Lodge, feel free to join us and maybe you will see one of these magnificent creatures in all their seamless majesty. Visit to book directly for your stay.

Kindest bush regards

The BTL Team