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Newsletter #1 from Cheetah For Ever
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Cheetah For Ever

newsletter #1

 

First steps

Cheetah For Ever website
Cheetah For Ever Facebook page

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This first issue is a bit special, a little longer than a traditional newsletter, as it traces the beginnings of the Cheetah For Ever association since May until end of October 2015. Cheetah For Ever has initiated and raise funds for our cheetah monitoring program in Maasai Mara in Kenya. Our kenyan partner Or Mara Eramat implements the program on the ground with a 4X4 vehicle in which take place a brigade of two scouts and a park ranger.

In early July, the monitoring program can start on the ground thanks to your donations and our first significant partner "Beauval Nature" from Beauval Zoo

The "Cheetah car" is ready early July, monitoring can begin ...
Prior to July ...
 
First quarter 2015
 
- First meeting of the Cheetah For Ever founding members, to define roles and tasks.
- Creation of the name, logo and website of the association.
- Drafting of the association statutes.
 

May 18, 2015

- Official statement of the association in the «Préfecture» (Police Headquarters) and published in the «Journal Officiel».
- The website and Facebook page are on line.
- The first members join us ...
In the field...


July 8, the program "Cheetah For ever" implemented by the Kenyan association "Or Mara Eramat" started. Thanks to your donations and financial support from Beauval Nature, the "Cheetah car" was purchased and arrived at Maasai Mara. Two first scouts, William and Edward, were recruited and trained at the end of June by Jackson Naurori. The time to become familiar with the topography of the reserve, and especially to get the information of the presence of a breastfeeding cheetah females or followed by cubs, which may benefit from close protection, the monitoring program could begin.

Monitoring starts with Malaïka ...

The first female cheetah to get watching of the brigade is none other than Malaika, a non shy female, then in charge of 4 one-year-old youngs (three males and one female). She is known for her behavior that pushes to confuse 4x4 roof with termite mounds when she wants a high vantage point to locate her prey. She forward this risky behavior to her descendants for several years, and the last four babies are not an exception to the rule!

One of the first concrete action of the brigade was to inform the reserve management, that the small female seemed to suffer from his right front leg, and maybe need a monitoring of the Park veterinary services (because we don't operate in case injury, only the reserve is responsible and decides if or not to intervene). The Watching team especially helped to limit the harassment of Malaika and her youngs, due to too many cars, often too close to the family. The presence in the vehicle of an armed ranger of the reserve with two scouts, brings legitimacy to enforce the regulation distance between vehicles and wildlife.

A second small mom: Imani ...

Mid-July, filtered the information that a mother cheetah has been seen with young cubs in the Look-Out area. But the tall grass makes its location very difficult, and it was not until July 23 that the brigade manages to locate and identify the family. Imani and his 4 cubs then became the favorite family of the team! But Imani was moving a lot, and headed to Keekorok, to the south of the reserve and even Tanzania. She was also harassed by vehicles. The brigade managed to limit the pressure around the family. On August 6, Imani and cubs crossed the border with the Tanzanian Serengeti, and the brigade only had to cross the fingers that nothing happens to them!
Nora ... or third young mother to watch

August 13, at Kifuko Topi the brigade spotted a third female cheetah, Nora, who showed all the signs of a recent birth, but cubs were not visible. The day after, they learn that Imani and family are back from Serengeti. August 18, they found her with 4 little cubs. Rangers then began alternating monitoring between Imani and Malaika, both families are relatively close to one another.
On August 21, Nora was finally spotted with 4 small cubs. The brigade was trying to find her, but in vain, and continued to monitor Imani alternating with Malaika. Coming back from one of these Imani monitoring periods, William and Edward found Malaïka with only 3 youngs. No one knows what could happen to the fourth: no visible body, any large predator spotted nearby. Fortunately Malaïka youngs are large enough to escape using their exceptional qualities of sprinters in case of danger.

We have since learned that the young disappeared is alive: he returned once with his family for a few hours, then left. Maybe he decided it was time for him to be independant, which is not a common behavior for a family with several young males. Indeed, when they are lucky to have brothers, males remain together and form coalitions that usually provide their high efficiency to hunt. Moreover, they don't leave their mother, but she leaves them one day, when she decides that they are ready to face life in the savannah, and especially when she wants to become mom! So he is a young male with a strong personality. It would be very interesting to follow him.... But the males move so much and have no assigned territory, making their monitoring impossible.
Trial by fire ...

August 25 the brigade wanted to proof - and how - and demonstrated the effectiveness of close protection.

That day, the scouts monitored Imani and cubs. While Imani was hunting, the youngs were alone when a hyena attacked them. Three of them succeed to escape, but one took refuge in the branches of a lean tree and became trapped by the hyena. Demonstrating a great self-assurance, he spat, but it was obviously ineffective. William, Edward and the ranger Kiok, made a lot of noise slapping the car, and yelling to try to drive away the hyena. But she didn't! She finally fled only when the brigade got out of the car and threw jackets on the hyena. The cub was saved!

When Imani came back from hunting, she took them away from the scene, in a part of Mara less exposed to predators, where small family remained hidden for several days.

The brigade was then looking for Nora, and found her August 27.
Imani reappeared with her cubs on 1 September.
Then the brigade monitored both families alternately.
Alternating monitoring Nora / Imani ...

During one of these alternating monitoring periods, occurred the first blow for the brigade. On September 2, the brigade began to watch Nora and her 4 cubs about 7-8 weeks. Everything was calm and without apparent danger when the scouts decided to leave her and check the health of Imani and family. Unfortunately, once back to Nora, they found a cub missing. The brigade took a long time to find the small body lying down at the foot of a tree, apparently killed by a martial eagle.
This sad episode underscores the urgency to acquire a second car and hire another brigade to increase the monitoring efficiency.

The brigade then demonstrated its essential role, even vital, in several episodes.

On September 8, Imani and her cubs were saved from certain death by the scouts. As she was leaving hunt, followed by her cubs, her steps led her straight on four lions lying in the tall grass that she had not seen. The brigade was first attempted to intervene with the car, but Imani, still unconscious of danger, continued to advance toward the lions while they had seen her. The Scouts called to help to a tourist car. The sound of two cars ended up alerting Imani who fled. Both cars also protected cubs as they returned to their mother.

September 11th...

... Was almost a sinister date for Nora and her cubs. Two hyenas attacked them, the first driving away the mother while the other one focused on the little ones. Here again, the brigade managed to intervene to protect cubs and scared the hyenas. Nora left the area and found refuge elsewhere in a devoid of predators place.
In contrast, the other three followed by cubs females are quite close to each other and on a territory infested with lions, prompting the brigade to prioritize the monitoring of these three cheetah mothers.

On 16 September, when the brigade came back to check Nora, they were only 2 cubs. Nobody knows what happened to the third. That same morning, Nora was seen with her three youngs. But two hours later, there were only 2. Some casual observers searched unsuccessfully the small disappeared: no dead body, no predator'tracks who might be responsible for the disappearance.

Musiara and her 3 cubs
Musiera appearance of ... the fourth watched female

During September, Rani, alias Musiara added to the list of female monitored by the brigade.

On October 24, while the brigade was monitoring her feasting with cubs over a good meal, the scouts noticed a Musiera behavior change: her hair stood on end, she became nervous. They saw in their rear-view mirror a male lion approaching. They decided to back the car in his direction for deflecting his trajectory. But instead of fleeing, Musiara followed the car, using it as a screen to hide and approach the lion then jumped him! With skill, but with much luck, she managed to avoid the lion's claws. The lion pursued her. Rangers managed to intervene and discourage the lion to continue his run...

Less than one hour later, while we could think that Musiara had abandoned her prey, as occurs in most cases in such attacks, she came back with her cubs to finish his interrupted meal!
That day the courageous or unconscious Musiera's cubs had a debt of gratitude to the team.
Positive results for our brigade!

No less than four attacks involving lions or hyenas were foiled. They could, for some, be fatal to all small litter assaulted.

Each time, the guards managed to rescue all the cubs. Both babies whose disappearance we deplore (on 15 cubs monitored) disappeared while the brigade was busy monitoring another family. 

This underscores the urgency to acquire a second car quickly and to hire additional brigades to monitor more efficiently the females and their youngs.


Meanwhile, in France ...
 

... Since March, the founding members (Sylvie and Tony Crocetta, Agnès Escriva, Sophie Gandrille Catherine Oye and Farid Radjouh) met a few times, have chosen the roles of each, and established the statutes of the Association before filing the Prefecture and the publication in the «Journal Officiel» dated May 18.
 
Jean Papillault, a talented young graphic designer, created the association logo from an adorable photo of Nicolas Vaulx who did not hesitate for a second to give his permission.
 
Once the website (thank you to Eric Le Go) and Facebook page finalized, we launched the donations and memberships campaign of the association.
 
End of June we received the financial and substantive support of the Association «Beauval Nature» thus became our first significant partner. Then we were able to finance the acquisition of the first 4x4 by our partner organization on the ground, Or Mara Eramat. The vehicle was logically called the "Cheetah Car" and customized: green paint, affixing logos of the two associations on the doors.
 
Salah Chouli translated the English website and allowed it went online as early as July.
 
Several wildlife photographers had agreed to support us and had become our ambassadors .... Laurent Baheux, Vincent Munier, Olivier Anrigo, Grégoire Bouguereau and Mathieu Pujol.
 
In September, the Sunnex company offered us discounts for the acquisition of night vision equipment. Bruno David, store manager of "Nature in the Bay" in St Valery en Somme performed a collection of second hand good quality binoculars to give it to the association and to equip the brigades on the ground.
 
In early October the Festiphoto Rambouillet allowed us to test the reception given to our work, to meet our members and all those who wish to participate. On this occasion, Marcello Pettineo joined us as an ambassador. He sold for the benefit of Cheetah For Ever more of his magnificent drawings of cheetahs, designs he allowed us to use to illustrate our grant file printed by our partner Escourbiac Company.
 
Kyriakos Kaziras joined us recently and sells two draws for the benefit of the association.
 
Finally, we just get a positive response for a partnership with LUSH Cosmetics company, whose ethics are well established.

At the time of writing, six months after its creation, the Cheetah For Ever association has 135 members whom we thank for their confidence, and raised more than 30,000 euros in donations. 

A new website was created completely manageable, more user friendly, easy to navigate from one section to another, allowing a permanent connection to our Facebook page.


We warmly thank the 1070 facebook followers who like our Facebook page and share our publications to make known our program and our actions.

Because your support motivates us!

THANKS for cheetahs

In early October Cheetah For Ever has participated to the «Festiphoto de la forêt de Rambouillet»... He will remain in our memories as one of the best issues. This particularly nice and friendly festival is maturing and becoming a staple of the hexagon ... which is not nothing! 

Thank you to all those who have expressed interest in one way or another, in the Masai-Mara cheetah cubs, coming exchange with Cheetah For Ever. Thanks to you, the cheetah cubs can now sleep soundly ...

And soon...

... Visit the International Nature Festival of Montier en Der! Cheetah For Ever stand will be in the «Foyer Rural» de Giffaumont.

We hope many of you will come and visit us. We look forward to seeing our members and meet new ones for exchanges as rich as warm!

More information on cheetahforever.org
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