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Maasai Mara’s fastest coup: ‘Tano Bora’ maul their coalition leader

By Robert Kiplagat | Jan 28th 2022 | 3 min read
The five Cheatah's of Mara. [Courtesy]

Big cat lovers who might have toured the Masai Mara Game Reserve might have come across the five all-male cheetah pack popularly known as “Tano Bora” (super five) -an inseparable team that hardly miss their target.

Unfortunate local and international tourists might not see the five together again. Forever.

After roaming the park’s lush savanna displaying their splendid teamwork in bringing down huge game such as wildebeests, zebra and Impalas to the amusement of tourists, the team has finally disintegrated.

It all started in 2021 when four members of the deadly hunters overthrew their leader nicknamed Orpadan, which means a “sharp-shooter” in Maasai language, and attacked him, leaving him with serious injuries.

The removal of their leader reduced the pack to “Nne Bora” where the remaining four continued with their coalition in the Mara plains for the whole of last year.

Two days ago, the most unfortunate incident happened. The expelled male clashed with the four where the territorial war began and Orpadan was mauled to death, ending the history of the world-celebrated “Tano Bora”.

Jackie Downey, a big cat enthusiast from the United Kingdom, narrated how the group disintegrated.

“When they were “Tano Bora” the last time I saw them together was in the year 2020. Last year, the four turned against their coalition-mate kicking him out and leaving him with a life-changing injury which he survived,” said Ms Downey.

She adds: “It seems he could not quite leave the territory he was used to it and on Sunday, he ran into the “Nne Bora” and this time around, they finished the job- they killed him.

The “Tano Bora” was indeed a force to reckon with."

The five comprised two biological brothers from one family and three brothers from another family.

The five Cheatah's of Mara.

Unlike other cats such as the leopards who are lone hunters that are rarely successful in their hunt, this pack, also known as the “five brothers”, used their numbers to go for huge hunts.

Jeffrey Wu, a Chinese wildlife photographer and author of the Tano Bora articles in Africa Geographic narrated first-hand how he found the carcass of the lone Orpadan.

“I found Orpadan’s body near Talek river on Olkiombo side. Multiple wounds were all over its body sadly it appeared he was attacked and killed by four former mates since we found them distressed running from the site of the body with bloody paws,” said Wu on his social media page.

He revealed that last year, Ordapan broke off with the group and formed a new coalition with a young cheetah for a short while before becoming a solitary hunter.

“Male cheetahs will not tolerate other males in their territory to compete for mating rights, food even if it is a former mate of the group. That is the rule of the jungle. It is now official that no more Tano Bora but Nne Bora,” said Wu.

Masai Mara Game Reserve Chief Park Warden James Sindiyo confirmed the incident terming it as a near-natural occurrence.

“It is true; a male cheetah carcass was found near Talek river. Our rangers visited the scene and indeed confirmed that the cheetah has been attacked by probably other cats either cheetahs or lions,” said Mr Sindiyo.

The park Warden termed the cheetah’s death as a blow to the global fans of the fascinating “Tano Bora”.

“The Tano Bora was celebrated all over the world but it is nature doing its work. We now have Nnne Bora who will still continue with the legacy of the largest all-male cheetah coalition in the world,” said Mr Sindiyo.

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