Do male cheetahs kill cubs?

The title is a search term on Google. Other searches are for example, ‘Do male cheetahs eat their young?’. There’s an interest in whether male cheetahs kill cubs as lions do. I am presuming that the question refers to cheetah cubs. Lions are well known for infanticide which they do to advance their genetic contribution i.e. to have their own cubs. Can the same be said about cheetahs?

Male cheetah. Picture in public domain on Pinterest.
Male cheetah. Picture in public domain on Pinterest.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I will state right away that in terms of predators killing cheetah cubs, the lion is by far the worst accounting for 80% of the predator-caused deaths at dens of cheetah cubs. Hyenas also kill baby cheetahs. There is a high mortality rate for young cheetahs. The highest mortality rate occurs in the first two weeks after they leave the den.

Is also said that cubs have been lost to leopards, floods, fires, abandonment, exposure, cars, disease, village dogs and male cheetahs. The source of this information is: ‘The effects of human activity on cheetahs in the Mara region of Kenya’ by DA Burney 1980, master’s thesis and published by the University of Nairobi.

So this source of information tells us that occasionally male cheetahs kill cubs but this is counteracted by a study: Do male cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus commit infanticide? That article concludes:

“We suggest that cheetahs are unusual among wild felids that males do not kill unrelated cubs…”

It has been suggested that as females mate with various partners, males do not know which cubs are theirs. Therefore, common sense dictates that they are not able to choose cubs from other males to kill if that would be their intention.

Also on this basis a male cheetah will not know which cubs are his. This would seem to prevent any possibility of infanticide by male cheetahs. I would suggest that Mr Burney is incorrect and that male cheetahs do not kill cubs (of their own species). That’s my current conclusion and response to the question in the title.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

follow it link and logo