12 June 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Cheetah babies

Every mammal baby of every species is cute. But cheetah cubs? These giant kittens with their distinctive tear marks are so especially appealing you can see why people like Lente Roode fall head over heels in love.

Cheetah cubs at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Photo Christo Schreiber, HESC

Lente Roode has been passionate about cheetahs since she was a little girl. When she was only 6 years old, she was given an orphaned cheetah cub to raise (the mother had been killed by a neighbouring farmer) at her parents’ bushveld home outside Hoedspruit.

She and Sebaka became inseparable, and it seems only natural that Lente ended up creating a sanctuary for cheetahs (and other endangered wildlife). The highly respected Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre  (HESC) has bred many cheetahs and released them into the wild.

At a quick glance, they look like honey badgers, famed for their fearlessly gung-ho attitude.

But all this is a preamble to an ‘ah, sweet’ moment. At the beginning of May, Salome, 1 of the cheetahs at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, gave birth to 3 cubs, and the moment was captured (for 2 of them, anyway) on video via Africam.

Christo Schreiber, curator at the HESC, says the centre has experienced a baby boom this year. Five of the females have given birth to a total of 17 cubs, all of whom are doing well.

But the latest 3 cute cubs have seized everyone’s imagination. Dubbed 'The Cubsters', their sweet antics can be caught on Africam.

Cheetah cubs have a mantle of pale hair that is useful as camouflage. Photo Africam and HESC

You’ll see that these cheetah cubs have a curious disguise. Their tails are disproportionately fluffy and their backs are covered in fine, pale fur.

At a quick glance, they look like honey badgers, which are so famed for their fearlessly gung-ho attitude that a South African armoured car is named after them (the Ratel – Afrikaans for honey badger).

Or perhaps that’s a little too fanciful. Perhaps their mantle of long, pale hair helps them blend in with the long grasses that are their home. Either way, you’ll want to watch the progress of the Cubsters (now 1 month old) on Africam.

Why not have a daily dose of cuteness with your morning coffee?

Category: Wildlife

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