Savannah's Babies

About Savannah

Savannah is a  female cheetah and she was an orphan. She was raised by the owners of Tshukudu Game Reserve, which is a private game reserve. Savannah lost her very first cubs when she gave birth in the bush. Cheetah cubs look almost like kittens and they are also very small. Therefore they are easy prey to raptors, jackals, lions, leopards and hyaenas.  When Savannah got pregnant the second time, the owners of Tshukudu decided to put her in a camp when she came at the end of her pregnancy and she had her cubs there. After they were born, she and her cubs were moved into a smaller enclosure inside the camp, where the cubs were even protected from raptors. She gave birth to 4 healthy cubs, two males and two females.

Unfortunately Savannah rejected one of her cubs and this little one is now  raised by Chris and Vicky Sussens of Tshukudu. They also have a Labrador bitch, which is also acting as a foster mother to the rejected cub.

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I was fortunate to be allowed into the enclosure where Savannah and her cubs were kept after birth. The cubs were just over a week old when I took the very first photos of them. On the left is Chris Sussens with Savannah, while I was photographing the cubs. The photo on the right is of Savannah and the three cubs she is raising herself.

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Their eyes have opened after about a week, but the cubs couldn't see yet.

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Savannah affectionately licked her cubs and she was very calm and peaceful while I was photographing them.

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They couldn't see me, but they could smell and hear me near them. It looks as if they were smiling, but actually they hissed at me! Here you can see that the ears aren't very prominent yet.
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This is the little cub that is raised by Chris and Vicky Sussens. It was bottle fed every three hours with a special milk formula. She is a female and she is called Ithobi.

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This is Dutch, the Labrador bitch that acts as foster mother to Ithobi. What is interesting, is that Dutch has never had puppies of her own and she acts as if this is her baby.

Two months later - June 2009

The cubs are about 2 months old now and about the size of a Fox Terrier.

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This is Ithobi, the cub that was rejected. She is very playful and healthy.

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The following photos are of Savannah and the cubs that are with her. She and her three cubs will be released as soon as they are big enough not to fall prey to raptors and jackals. Lions, leopards and hyaenas are always a thread to Cheetahs, but at least they have a chance if they can outrun their enemies.

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While the cubs are playing, Savannah keeps an eye open for any possible danger.

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On the photos above and below one can clearly see the manes that Cheetah cubs have.

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July 2009
The cubs are just over 4 months old now.

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They are very playful and very, very active now. I have noticed that when the cubs are playing with one another, Savannah is constantly keeping an eye open for any danger. Even thought they are still kept in a camp, their behaviour is just as if they would be in the wild. When Savannah sees something that she thinks could be a possible threat to them, she makes warning sounds and call the cubs.

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Here you can still see the manes on their shoulders, but the cubs started loosing the long hair now and in a few months from now, the manes won't be visible anymore.

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This was a very special moment and shows how Savannah affectionately licks one of her cubs.

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The two photos above and below show how well the cubs' hair colour blend in with the dry grass and how well they are camouflaged. It is quite difficult to spot them in nature.

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Last Updated 2009/09/09
Contact Elsa Goussard at : elsagoussard@telkomsa.net

Visitors since
1 July 2009