I have just witnessed a miracle! I follow a website called africamcom. This morning, as I was wandering through my emails, I noticed that they had sent me an update. Mama cheetah is in labour! I love the big cats so I of course tuned in. I wasn’t watching for more than five minutes when she turned around and a little guy literally popped out! He/she is so tiny! Within seconds of the delivery a very determined Mama was inflicting the cleaning rules on a very curious and rambunctious little one. It’s been less than 10 minutes and the baby, jet black, has managed to move about 4 feet. He/she may not be able to walk but that’s not stopping this little determined one from checking out the surroundings. Junior kind of rolls back and forth. The tiny head comes up, the nose points in a new direction and the body tries to follow. Oops! Decision made by the management: Junior picked up by Mama and deposited at the back of their birthing den. A few more cleaning swipes. After all Junior has been alive for several minutes of course he’s dirty. Or she.
The mother cheetah is actually called Meg. She lives on a reserve in Africa. So while she is a wild animal she is still protected. She was brought into an enclosure for the birth to protect both her and the babies. It appears that the birth process could last several hours. I was lucky enough to see the first. And I am gob smacked! She is quite a diligent mother and like any small child the little one is trying to get away from the cleaning tongue! It is absolutely brilliant to watch. I was surprised that the newborn didn’t immediately go for a teat. I thought babies were born hungry. I have a lot to learn. Mama has rolled off to one side, baby tucked neatly beside her. Okay, my bad, breakfast is served. I feel like a voyeur. But I can’t stop watching!
Breakfast is over. A little cleanup. And now a nap, okay maybe not. As the baby moves into the light you can see that he’s not completely jet black. This really is a determined little one. I doubt his eyes are even open and yet he seems to want to explore his world.
Oh, oh,oh, another one! Approximately 38 minutes after the first. This diligent mother is making her latest contribution to the world a clean little bugger! I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. This beautiful young mother looks from cub to cub with what I imagine to be pride. She is so careful when she moves them. So gentle. Junior two is checking out his breakfast while Junior one is checking out mom’s paw. I wonder what it’s like when everything you smell, touch, hear and see is for the first time. I wonder what goes through the minds of these teeny tiny creatures. Okay now everybody does appear to be napping. Unless of course the picture is just frozen. Hang on a sec I’ll go check it out. Yep the picture was frozen. A third cub was born and I missed it! The picture is live again but the colors are gone. I think the cameras are on infrared maybe? All 3 cubs and Mama seemed to be doing just fine. The last time this female had cubs she had five. I will keep watching for little while longer just in case she has another but I’m expecting people over in half an hour, so I got stuff to do.
Four! Another just made an appearance! Four new lives in the world.
This has been an absolutely thrilling experience! I know I wasn’t there in person, but to watch this beautiful creature bring four precious lives into the world is breathtaking. I am so glad that I was in the right place at the right time.
The following information was taken from the africam.com website and more fully explains what is happening:
At the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) which focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals, cheetah conservation is one of their core disciplines. Cheetahs are a threatened species and the rarest of them all is the “King Cheetah”. This special line of cheetahs was first discovered in 1926, where it was thought to be a completely new and exciting species – a strange hybrid between a cheetah and a leopard. Although we now know that it is not a new species, but in fact a distinctive fur pattern variation of a normal spotted cheetah. King cheetahs have been reported in the wild, including a sighting in the Kruger National Park in 1974, but are incredibly rare, which raises the importance of a project such as this.
Meg and Tristan mated several months ago and a litter of cubs is expected to occur sometime this month (July, 2014). Meg does not carry the king cheetah gene, so none of these cubs will in fact be king cheetahs. However, they will all carry the gene, and in the future if paired with another gene carrying partner, a king cheetah birth would be possible.
At HESC, a special maternity ward has been constructed so that the females can give birth in a proper environment. That is part of what you are seeing on the LIVE camera above. Once the babies have been born the staff will allow nature to take its course and not approach the infant cats so that they can be cared for by their mother in the most natural way possible.
That being said, monitoring is of course an important part of conservation, so the centre has set up this 24/7 webcam with live video and sound in partnership with our team here at Africam.com. Through this device they cannot only monitor the cheetahs but also gather valuable information for future conservation efforts.
the picture is from myepicpet.com