Written by George Kayoni – Head Guide at Ekorian’s Mugie Camp, Kenya.

The bond between brothers is a unique one. And when we see that relationship in nature between wild animals, it can be even more interesting. Zuri and Amaka, two cheetah brothers living on the plains of Mugie Conservancy, are a wonderful example of this strong bond of kinship and support.

African Safaris: The unique and life-saving cheetah brotherhood of Mugie

Amaka and Zuri atop a termite mound, looking for prey.

African Safaris: The unique and life-saving cheetah brotherhood of Mugie

The brothers were never seen apart before Amaka’s injury

The brothers are just over five and half years old and have been living together since they were young. Though cheetahs are known to be solitary, males, especially brothers, sometimes form coalitions where they decide to stay together as a team and defend their territory as one.

African Safaris: The unique and life-saving cheetah brotherhood of Mugie

The brothers seen hunting together on the Mugie Conservancy.

 In September 2016, Amaka was found with a broken hind limb. The injury was so severe that he could barely walk. Zuri was very unsettled by his brother’s injury, he would sometimes travel alone and he was often found yapping at Amaka to get him to follow. It was impossible for Amaka to hunt, and his health deteriorated rapidly. We thought he would surely succumb to the injury. But Zuri soon stepped in, proving the limitless bonds of brotherhood.

African Safaris: The unique and life-saving cheetah brotherhood of Mugie

Just after the injury Amaka couldn’t keep up with his brother and his health deteriorated quickly. It was presumed he would never see 2017.

Hope was restored when we came across the brothers a short while after the injury happened, enjoying a kill together in a different location. Zuri had found a way to feed his brother – hunting and killing and then calling Amaka to him. This has continued for the past three months and Amaka’s health has been improving at an amazing rate. Although his leg has not healed, he is sustained by the protection, nutrition, and support that Zuri provides.

Hunting by himself, without the help of his brother, is a feat on it’s own. But then managing to call his brother to the kill and to defend him against potential threats, is another matter altogether. Amaka should not, according to the laws of nature and survival of the fittest, have been able to survive this injury. But if Amaka does not survive to work alongside Zuri in the future, Zuri will face a new set of challenges, adapting to a completely solitary lifestyle.

This unique story of Zuri and Amaka gives us an inspiring reminder that nature is wise and capable of balancing itself without human interference.

African Safaris: The unique and life-saving cheetah brotherhood of Mugie

Here Amaka waits under an orange leaf croton tree while Zuri hunts to provide for both of them. A system that has worked well for the last three months.

The cheetah brothers are monitored by a research project which studies the behavior and migration patterns of endangered predators, and events such as this one, provide researchers with further pioneering information. With less than 10,000 cheetahs thought to remain in all of Africa, Zuri and Amastory gives hope that these precious animals are fighting for their lives as if they know what is at stake.

A video of the brothers out hunting together before the life changing injury to Amaka…

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