” Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Anonymous

As we enter October, the harsh realities of the drought are blatantly obvious. Lions continue to pick off buffalo, hyenas amble around with bloated stomachs, and vultures can hardly take off from the trees, so gorged are they from the excess of carrion about the place.

But there is another predator that also seems to be flourishing in this extremely tough period. The leopards have been become increasingly successful with regular kills being made by most of the resident leopards in the area. They continue to leave us all in absolute amazement as to how they seem to do this given the lack of cover in the bush at the moment. This has raised a question that I discussed in an earlier blog asking whether leopard oestrus cycles could possibly sync up? Or could it be more?

Well with the fact that they are now gaining a seemingly endless supply of food on a fairly regular basis, why not reproduce? The leopards still seem to be mating once again at very similar periods but could this be due to the fact that they are simply seeing each other more often? Either way what it means is that the possibility of cubs is definitely on the rise here at Londolozi. During the past month we have seen the Mashaba young female on her own kills and moving around a fair amount given her independence. The Mashaba female herself has fallen pregnant and may possibly be looking to extend her territory in order to raise her next litter due to the fact that the Mashaba young female seems quite at home where she was raised. The Nkoveni female has been mating with both the Piva male and Inyathini male leopards in the past week which means that she could possibly be pregnant and be attempting to secure cubs by mating with multiple males.  The Ndzanzeni female has had two cubs that are around six weeks old and were born on the famous “Python Rock”. There are many more that we could get into but all we know for now is that the leopards are thriving in conditions that only the strongest will survive in.

I hope you enjoy the images from a truly memorable six weeks with these incredible cats.

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A close-up of the feet of the Hlaba’nkunzi female. It is amazing that something that appears so delicate can hold so much power.

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The Hlaba’nkunzi female resting in the late afternoon waiting for prey to edge ever closer to her. She would doze off between bouts of watching a herd of impala.

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My first glimpse of one of the Ndzanzeni female’s cubs near Python Rock where she had them approximately six weeks ago.

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The Ndzanzeni female leopard and one of her youngsters treating us to a truly special afternoon.

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The Mashaba female leopard who is being pushed to extend her territory at the moment, due to the recent independence of her latest daughter.

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The Mashaba young female has reached independence and it has been really encouraging to see how well she has been hunting and moving on her own.

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Could the Nkoveni female leopard be pregnant? Let’s hope we see some evidence in the months to follow.

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The Mashaba young female resting in between bouts of feeding. This was taken while she was on one of her very first kills.

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 ...

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5 Comments

on A Species Thriving in the Drought

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Lynne
Guest

Just love leopards! Thank you for such beautiful photo’s.

Christy
Guest

Love your photos, Nick! We can’t wait to return to Londolozi!

Danny
Guest

Stunning pics! I especially love the Ndzanzeni with the cub on her back, but they are all amazing.

Bob & Lucie Fjeldstad
Guest

Love the cats … especially the little guys! Great photography!!! Very sad that the drought has not broken but happy that some are benefiting!

MJ Bradley
Guest

The reflection in the eyes of the Mashaba Young female is beautiful.. Thank you for sharing

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