Tragic end for ‘Tano Bora’, Maasai Mara’s most famous cheetah coalition

The five male cheetahs known as Tano Bora or the Five Musketeers at the Maasai Mara game reserve on June 24, 2020.

Photo credit: File

The hunting tactics of the "Tano Bora" (super five), probably the biggest cheetah coalition that roamed the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve's savanna, had thrilled big-cat enthusiasts for five years.

The amazing all-male crew displayed unusual hunting coordination that saw them bring down huge prey 10 times their weight. The coalition comprised two blood brothers and another three related brothers.

But the show is coming to a sad end.

In the past two years, the coalition has been decimated after they turned against each other, in what can be described as 'betrayal', leading to fatal territorial fights.

The coalition members were nicknamed Orpadan, Olarishani, Leboo, Winda and Olonyok by safari guides and were distinct in their roles in their hunting expeditions.

The disintegration of the group began in November last year when team leader Orpadan (sharpshooter in the local Maasai dialect), disappeared from the bachelor's group for a few months to look for females.

But his attempt to rejoin the group did not go down well with his mates, who turned against him.

The four members were raged and mauled him to death. That heralded the birth of Nne Bora, a coalition that soldiered on until February 13 this year, when Olarishani faced the same fate.

The death of Olarishani (leader) further reduced the coalition to Tatu Bora, until July 30 when Leboo's carcass was found near the Talek River in a suspected mauling by a lion.

The latest death could mark the end of the biggest, much-loved, most sought cheetah coalition in Mara’s recent history.

Most cheetahs feast on small prey like antelopes and gazelles, but Tano Bora, using their numbers and skills, used to bring down big game such as zebra, wildebeest and topi.

Following the demise of the third member of the cheetah coalition, big-cat lovers have been pouring their tributes while relishing memories of the super five’s exploits.

Mr Jackson Ronko, a safari guide, regretted the unfortunate end of the spectacular coalition.

"The whole circle of the coalition is officially coming to an end by the look of things. Very unfortunate for such a globally known cheetah coalition to decimate," mourned Mr Ronko.

But he hailed the coalition for their companionship and hunting strategies.
"We hope nature will give us another alternative to the fantastic gang," he added.

Mr Martin Leleux, another enthusiast, in a post on the Magical Maasai Mara Facebook page, announced the death of the latest member, Leboo, with sorrow.
"The ‘Tatu Bora’ just lost one of their own – Leboo. This exceptional coalition of Five known as ‘Tano Bora’ was invincible," he wrote.

Ms Lucy Johnson described the coalition as a “special one".

"And then there were three ... 2022 has put to an end a special and unique five (plus) reign," read the post.

Maasai Mara Chief Park Warden James Sindiyo could not be reached for comment on the incident as calls to his phone went unanswered.

It remains to be seen whether the two remaining coalition members – Olonyok and Winda – will continue to hold together.


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