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The “Three Brothers”- Lewa’s Most Famous Cheetahs Take the Final Bow

May 30, 2012

This year, Lewa mourns the end of the greatest coalition to have ever existed in the Conservancy. The illustrious 13-year reign of the “Three brothers”, immortalized in documentaries, written articles, photographs, and even witness accounts, sadly ended on Monday, 30th April 2012, when a surveillance officer found the carcass of the last surviving cheetah.

The “Three Brothers” are quite possibly the most famous family of cheetahs in the world. Their sophisticated hunting skills, quite unusual for cheetahs, enabled them to bring down and feast on the most formidable of prey including zebras and other large animals that have the ability to overpower grown lions. Their strong union also ensured that they fought together to keep off competition and therefore venture into territories previously avoided by other cheetahs. The brothers ruled the Lewa grounds for more than a decade, and were a constant source of fascination throughout this period.

However, with the death of the eldest cheetah last year in March after a fight with a pride of lions, it was obvious that the fate of the coalition had changed forever as the power they wielded was as a result of their ability to work as a trio. Additionally, cheetahs normally live up to the age of 13; the brothers were 14 years old and consequently not as fast and agile as they were before. Therefore with the death of their sibling and as an aged duo, fighting off competition along with hunting became increasingly tough. Of special threat to them were other predators, and ironically a young team of two cheetah brothers.

Early last month, a patrol officer found the elderly cheetahs languishing in pain, with severe injuries. The brothers had been involved in a brutal encounter with the two younger cheetahs while fighting for territory. Quick action was taken and they were treated by our Vet team. One had a broken and infected hind leg that was drained of pus and treated with antibiotics. The other one, however, had extensive fractures in the back and a broken leg which eventually cost him his life.

Despite healing fully, it was clear that the remaining brother was devastated by the loss of his other sibling. His chances of survival were now minimal. Two weeks later the young cheetahs struck again, this time killing the last of the revered “Three Brothers”.

Even with the death of the super-trio, there have been new cheetah sightings within Lewa-the most recent being the two young brothers and a female with two cubs. On these beautiful hunting grounds, the new cheetahs will attempt to fill the void left by the legendary band of brothers, the greatest coalition yet.