We are devastated to share news of the death of Shashe, one of Tiger Canyon’s founder cheetahs and mother to three young cubs

She died on 19 August 2023 after suffering renal failure. 

Shashe was 11 years old, which is considered a good old age for a cheetah living in the wild. 

“Once we picked up that something was wrong, her condition deteriorated very quickly, to such an extent that she wasn’t eating or moving much. She was also no longer with her cubs,” says Rodney, Tiger Canyon co-owner and managing director.

Our vet was called out, who treated Shashe in the veld with antibiotics and two intravenous drips to assist with dehydration. Blood results then confirmed that her kidneys were failing, which is almost always fatal for big cats.

She was transported to the holding boma where treatment continued whilst the search for her three young cubs was launched. 

Mother and cubs reunited

It took many hours, but guide Greg and manager Wesley eventually found the three youngsters and managed to lure them toward the boma by playing some audio that Greg had previously recorded of Shashe calling her cubs. 

They were reunited with their mom for about 15 hours before she sadly passed away.

“Our challenge now is to raise these three cubs, who are currently only five months old and not yet able to hunt for themselves,” says Rodney. “We are busy putting plans in place to ensure their survival with minimal human interaction, so it is easier to rewild them when they are older.”

With rewilding of captive-born big cats being a core component of our ethos, we are well-equipped to hand-raise these youngsters to a point where they can once again be released from the holding boma into the reserve. 

In some ways, we have to take over the role of being their mother to ensure their well-being before we recreate the environment for them to learn to hunt.

Luckily, hunting is a very instinctive trait for cheetah, which we have experienced from past rewilding endeavours. 

A Tiger Canyon cheetah legend

In 2013 Shashe and her sister, Mara, captive-born cubs, were relocated to Tiger Canyon as two of the four founder cheetah. They were successfully released with a coalition of two hand raised, rewilded male cheetahs, Sabie and Runde. 

Apart from the three cubs Shashe leaves behind, she gave birth to another 11 cubs between 2015 and 2019, becoming an integral part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project.

We will keep our friends and followers updated about the cubs’ wellbeing via our blog and social media platforms. You can follow along on Facebook.