Despite having been born here, the Xidulu female had hardly been seen on Londolozi prior to this year. With the level of the Sand River now slowly rising due to some much needed rain, we have begun to see her and her two cubs on a more regular basis on our southern bank. This could possibly be due to the fact that she may be a little nervous to cross the main channel with her youngsters. What this does though is push her into the territory of the Nkoveni female leopard. Last week we saw a conflict, and it was nothing short of incredible…

The daughter of Sunsetbend female, is named Xidulu which means termite mound in Shangaan.

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Xidulu 2:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
16 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
5
Nkoveni 2:2 Female
2012 - present

A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.

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23 sightings by Members
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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
43 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

The sun had just risen and the bush was alive with the sound of kingfishers and cuckoos. We had gone out specifically to look for the Xidulu female leopard, as we were hoping she had her cubs on the Southern side of the river. Along the river road we happened to find the Tsalala lionesses and their cubs playing in the sand which temporarily distracted us from our search. Above us in a Jackalberry tree a monkey was watching from his vantage point and enjoying warming himself in the early morning sun. Then he looked away from the lions, and his expression changed. He suddenly rushed to the outer branches and started to alarm call. The calls intensified and we knew there had to be a leopard nearby. We drove up into a clearing in search of the cause of the monkey’s distress.
Then my teammate, tracker Mike Sithole, proved once again why he is renowned amongst the tracking team for his remarkable eyesight by spotting the Xidulu female lying under a dense thicket. She was watching a group of impalas feeding just down hill from where she was positioned and was just entering the initial phases of a stalk. She slunk low to the ground and moved to the next thicket line, with the distant cries of the monkey in the tree growing softer as she moved out of sight. We kept our distance so as not to disturb the hunt but the silence was then broken by the panicked calls of impalas several hundred metres away from her. The leopard’s behaviour immediately changed as she turned towards the source of the sound. Then the unmistakable scream of an animal being attacked reached our ears, followed by… silence. The Xidulu female set off down the crest towards the sound and we followed in hot pursuit. As we rounded a few trees we spotted another female leopard!

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The Xidulu female watching impalas nearby.

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Moving into a better position.

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The Xidulu female perks up, focusing on the distress calls of a distant nyala.

She was hunched down over a young nyala whose legs were kicking desperately to try and break free. She then looked up and dropped the nyala to the ground who by this point was not capable of moving but was still alive. The Xidulu female came running in towards the Nkoveni female leopard and there was a temporary stand off as they sized each other up. Leaving the struggling nyala, both the leopards disappeared into a nearby drainage line and we lost view of them.

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The Nkoveni female standing guard over her kill.

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The Nkoveni female running to meet her challenger.

Suddenly the Xidulu female was back and picked up the nyala and started running off with her stolen meal and we once again lost sight of her. We spent roughly 15 minutes trying to relocate either of the leopards with no success until we spotted a leopard dragging the now dead nyala back into the same drainage line that both cats had disappeared into earlier. This time it was the Nkoveni female that had the kill and there was no sign of the Xidulu female. Up the drainage she went and for the third time we lost both leopards.

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The Xidulu female dragging off her stolen kill.

On the search went in vein until the alarm calls of some nyalas and impalas helped us locate a leopard dragging the kill down towards the river. This time it was the Xidulu female who had the kill. She moved across the clearing at a steady speed only pausing to look over her shoulder to see if she was being trailed by her competitor. After a few minutes she stopped near a dense thicket and appeared to be more relaxed, indicating that she believed she had won the battle and could now settle down to enjoy her meal.

The excitement on the vehicle was electric after what we had witnessed but it was bumped up to a whole new level when we saw a flash of spots and then another. The Xidulu female’s two cubs came bounding over from their hiding place, running towards their mother and the nyala she had brought back for them. The young male skipped the thank you and stole the kill straight out of his mother’s mouth, sprinting off to enjoy his meal in the shade of a fallen tree nearby and standing guard while his sister attempted to join in. The most outstanding morning I’ve experienced in the bush to date!

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The young male cub of the Xidulu female approaches his mother and the kill.

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The young female cub watches her brother playing with the carcass.

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The young male wards off his sister’s approaches.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Xidulu 2:3 Female

Xidulu 2:3 Female

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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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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8 Comments

on Three’s Company But Four is a Crowd

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Barbara Weyand
Guest

Hello everyone at Londolozi. Every day I look forward to my only blog, the very special blog from Londolozi. My husband and I recall our wonderful stay in June with Sean and Robbie as our safari team.

Senior Moment
Guest

I bet your guests really hit the jackpot that day.

Guido,Dina
Guest

Lucky you !!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest

Great story, Nick! Wish I’d been there!!

Jill Larone
Guest

Wow, there’s a young male cub that needs an attitude adjustment!! 🙂 What an exciting morning you had Nick, and beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Michael & Terri Klauber
Guest

Great story Nick! What an amazing sighting!!!

Al Kaiser
Guest

What a fantastic story! Looking forward to viewing the Xidulu and cubs next visit.

MJ
Guest

Does the Xidulu female’s male cub have a 1:1 spot pattern? Love the photos and the narrative!

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