Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cheetah with it's six cubs...

With six hungry mouths to feed, there’s only one thing a mother can do – teach the kids to get their own tea.

This cheetah and her unusually large family seem to be making good progress on the self-catering front, even if the playful cubs sometimes forget hunting duty for a spot of rough and tumble instead.
Barely 10 per cent of cheetah cubs make it past three months in the wild, so at a sleek four months, these youngsters have already beaten the harshest of odds. 
  
A cheetah with her six cubs in Massai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, all in a row.

And they are a real credit to their mother’s ingenuity and dedication. As well as teaching them to hunt, she has to keep them hidden from predators, frequently changing hiding places to keep their enemies guessing. Then she has to put up with their rather boisterous behaviour – six times over. But the family photos, taken in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, show she is managing beautifully so far. A spokesman for the Cheetah Conservation Fund was delighted that such an endangered species is doing so well. She said: ‘It fills us with hope that a mother can successfully look after numbers like this.’ 

DOWN HERE! The cheetah led her brood up a tree for a better look at the beautiful surroundings.

She no doubt has her paws full with the rambunctious brood. But she’ll have her paws full for some time.

Cheetah cubs don’t leave their mothers until they are 18 months old. Captured on camera in October in the Massai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, by Italian wildlife photographer Paolo Torchio the little ones pestering their dedicated mum - just like excitable school kids running around the feet of a human parent. Cheetah pregnancies only last about three months.

The mum didn't have much time to prepare for her six-fold blessing. 

 There was no father cheetah in site as the cubs dashed about with their mum close by.

Their rough-and-tumble approach to play will equip them with the skills they'll need when they mature, so they can cope with a life in the big wide world and hunt successfully. Patricia Tricorache from international charity Cheetah Conservation Fund, said: 'It's an extraordinary and rare achievement to successfully rear a litter of this size, and great news for the species.'

These two cubs enjoyed a playful sibling wrestling match.

Cheetahs are easily distinguished from leopards by the black tear lines under their eyes.

The seven beautiful cats took a break from playing and enjoyed a peaceful sunset together