The seasons are changing at Londolozi. There is a chill in the morning air and the metamorphism of the bush from bright greens to deep golds, as the water from our summer rains dries, is more apparent each day. The Impala rutting season, where mature impala males begin to compete for breeding rights over females, is almost over. The predators – so tuned into the subtle changes in their environment – have been well aware of this and taken full advantage of the male impalas’ lack of awareness as their focus is drawn towards females and a good fight (I suspect a trait shared by most males in the animal kingdom)!
The Vomba female, now 16 years old and still as beautiful as ever, with her distinctive gold coat and green eyes, has welcomed this year’s rutting season especially as it seems her young male cub has inherited his father’s genes and is growing very big, very quickly! Consider this footage of the cub filmed just 8 short months ago, with the picture below:
We found these 2 leopards as they crossed the airstrip just after sunrise and it was clear from the cub’s exuberance as he jogged along next to his mother that he was very excited for his next meal that his mother seemed to be taking him to. This lively behaviour seemed to rub off on the Vomba female and she joined him in a moment of youthful play in a fallen over Marula tree.
After following the pair for a long time through the thick bush we were rewarded by the sight of the horns of a very large dead impala male poking out from a Pteracarpus bush. A full grown impala male outweighs a female leopard substantially, a very impressive kill, and more than enough for both mother and son to feast on for a few days.
With bellies full, it was time for some mother/son bonding time and they took it in turn to groom each other and share a few hours of undisturbed rest, a temporary moment of contentment.
Written by Helen Young
Photographed by: Bennet Mathonsi and Rich Laburn
Filmed by: Rich Laburn