“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  – Albert Einstein


It is no secret that I have a deep love for leopards, but one female in particular has captured my attention in the last year and has provided many guests and guides alike with unparalleled quality in sightings. She has a calmness about her that fascinates me. The privilege of being allowed into a leopard’s personal  space is still something that blows my mind. These animals are by nature elusive and secretive and yet here we find ourselves being accepted into their world and they allow us to sit just metres away from them while they go about their daily activities.

Just last week I had a day where the Mashaba female and her youngster captured our hearts. I got to see them in the early morning and again later in the afternoon and both sightings were out of this world! It all began with us following mother and daughter as they walked through some thick brush alongside a drainage line, effortless for them but certainly not as easy for us. At this point, the Mashaba female headed towards a Marula tree that she climbed for a quick scan of the surroundings, which in itself had already made for an amazing sighting. When she came down though, her daughter was ready to give us the sighting of a lifetime.

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The Mashaba female scanning the surrounding area for any food or threats.  ISO 640, F2.8, 1/8000

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The Mashaba female’s cub posing in perfect light under a Gardenia tree. ISO 400, F2.8, 1/1000

The following is a series of pictures of the Mashaba female pouncing into a tree from which her daughter had been watching her.

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Although this youngster is growing up and gaining strength and skill fast, she is still a little clumsy in a tree. Settings for this series are ISO 800, F2.8, 1/1250.

We left the two leopards late in the morning when they disappeared into the nearby drainage line, having decided that it was time for a rest in the shade. We headed for camp, all buzzing with excitement from what we had just witnessed. Later in the afternoon we returned to the area and it seems the bush gods were smiling on us. The two of them were lying on a termite mound and once they had a drink together, they were once again full of life and energy.

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The Mashaba female was up and on the move with her cub stalking from a distance.

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ISO 1250, F2.8, 1/1000

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A slightly different shot of the Mashaba female with her cubs tail the focus. ISO 1250, F2.8, 1/6400.

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ISO 1250, F2.8, 1/2500.

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What ensued was a joy-filled afternoon, watching these two cats interact and play together. Knowing that these are solitary cats who will eventually go their separate ways, we revelled in this special bonding moment and felt very lucky to have been a part of it.


I hope that you enjoy the series of images.

About the Author

Nick Kleer

Field Guide

Nick joined the Londolozi team from Thornybush Game Reserve, and immediately began revealing his photographic potential, especially in the passion with which he pursued knowledge. An almost fanatical approach to improving his photography has seen him gain a rapid understanding of all the ...

View Nick's profile


on A Surfing Leopard: My Day with the Mashaba Female

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Great blog and beautiful pictures Nick! Still remember the great sightings we had last year with these beauties. Hope to see them again in June!


Your love for Mashaba is boundless, and beautiful 🙂

marinda drake

Lovely images Nick. The cub is a real beauty.

Jill Grady

Great blog and pictures Nick. The cub is so beautiful, just like her mother.


What a great bond these two have at the moment, hard to contemplate them separating in the future,and forever in our memories.Great photos Nick, “thank you”

Janice Rudenauer

Exquisite images, thank you for sharing your work both as field guide, and photographer…they are magnificent in every beautiful and fierce way. Loved the Einstein too!

Wendy Hawkins

Thank you Nick that was wonderful & oh the last photo is just amazing! What an opportunity for you, the Guide & your guests that neither will forget. All your pictures are great too


Fabulous photos, Nick! I love watching mother leopards play with their cubs! Thank you for sharing!


Amazing photos, especially the one of her jumping on Mashaba’s back. I was there a few weeks back and saw them together. Your pictures bring me back there and make me smile.


That leopard surfing pic is truly awesome! What a cool duo these two are.

John Ridgewell

Can I be re connected for the newsletter, seems fo have gone off the radar!

Amy Attenborough

Hi John. I have re-subscribed you. Please let me know if the problem persists. Many thanks, Amy

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