I arrived at Londolozi in January 2015 with a strong love for leopards. Over the past two years that has only grown, but one female has caught my attention a little more than the rest. I have spent many drives and countless hours tracking and viewing the Mashaba female leopard with Mike Sithole and in that time I have had the privilege of watching her successfully raise the Mashaba young female to independence.

The Mashaba female rests high up in the branches watching hyenas approaching below.

The past year has been interesting for the Mashaba female. Since the death of the 4:4 male, things have shifted significantly for her. The Flat Rock male arrived only weeks after the 4:4 male’s death and made short work in killing both of her cubs that she had given birth to in October last year. This litter was, I believe, fathered by the 4:4 male even though she had mated with the Piva male as well. The mating session with the Piva male was short-lived and I believe she mated with him only as a security for the litter she was carrying already. Leopards will often mate with multiple males for this reason. She has repeated the process again and has mated multiple times with the Flat Rock male and Piva male in recent months. The Flat Rock male is however relatively young and I believe she knows he is not the most dominant male in the area currently. This has caused her to venture further afield to secure her next litter.

The Flat Rock male watches the Mashaba female approaching during a recent mating session.

The Mashaba female was not seen for about ten days and we were beginning to worry about where she may have gone. But then on the 13th of April she was found again. Where she was found and who she was found with surprised us all. She was found far south of her territory with the Inyathini male. Females do often seek out dominant males in adjacent territories but no one could have predicted this one. We watched on for the afternoon and into the darkness as they mated multiple times. The next day she was seen moving back up north towards her own territory. How long she was with him for remains a mystery but judging by the tracks we had been following, it had been a few days. Then on the 15th the Mashaba female was found mating with the Piva male. Now this is a repeat of the behaviour she displayed before giving birth to her previous litter. She has this time however mated with three males and I believe is carrying a litter who could possibly be fathered by two of them, namely the Inyathini and Piva males. Leopards are able to carry the offspring of more than one male due to eggs being individually fertilized. So if the pregnancy is successful, we should hopefully expect her to drop a new litter of cubs around the middle to end of July. Only time will tell and I cannot wait to see what happens…

The Inyathini male awaits the Mashaba female.

The Mashaba female gets into position using her tail to entice the Inyathini male into mating.

Male leopards will often bite a female’s neck during mating in order to hold them in a position of submission.

As the male leaps off the female, she tends to turn around and try to swat him.

The Mashaba female awakens before getting up to approach a sleeping Piva male.

A moment of tenderness I have rarely witnessed between leopards as the Mahsaba female nuzzles the Piva male before trying to mate with him in the tree.. He did not oblige.

The Piva male looking rather unimpressed as the Nkoveni female leopard approaches his and Mashaba’s spot in the tree.

9
Inyathini 3:3 Male
2008 - present

Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
13 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
9
Mashaba 3:3 Female
2008 - present

The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.

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Mashaba 3:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
29 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
3 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
7
Piva 3:2 Male
2010 - 2017

Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.

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Piva 3:2 Male

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
25 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

This rangy male was an enigma, arriving on Londolozi in the mid to latter parts of 2014 and staying mainly in the western areas.

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Robson's 4:4 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
7 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

 

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Robson's 4:4 Male

Robson's 4:4 Male

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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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10 Comments

on Tales of the Mashaba Female Leopard

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Mary Moy
Guest

y love of Leopards started when I first read Kpo the Leopard when I was in school in the early 60’s. My first sighting was in 2011. I love keeping up with the Leopards of Londolozi, in particular the Mashaba Female.

Dina
Guest

great pictures !!!

Darlene Knott
Guest

The leopard is my favorite! Enjoyed your photos and your stories. Thanks for sharing!

Deborah Llewelyn
Guest

Stunning photographs Nick!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest

It’s been very special being with Nick and Mike – and Mashaba, Piva, Inyathini, Flat Rock and Nkoveni during the last 12 days, not to mention so many others. Nick’s passion for leopards is contagious and being with even one leopard is an unforgettable experience. We are so lucky!

Gail Mingard
Guest

Love the twitter share option about each leopard! Have done so on @gail_mail
I am a big fan of all the Londolozi email updates. The photography is excellent and the tales well worth taking the time to read. The ‘Londolozi Family’ (staff) are very talented!

Gillian Evans
Guest

Exciting stuff and some wonderful photos – what a beautiful one of two of them in the tree! Mashaba too has a special place in my heart – the first leopard we saw on our first visit to Londolozi last year and the first leopard we saw on our return visit this year.. hopefully we may see her cubs later this year!

Michael & Terri Klauber
Guest

Nick, Love the photos of Mashaba! Terri’s favorite! Hope we will see and maybe ride with you again when we return in June/July!!!

Al Kaiser
Guest

She never fails to offer great viewing opportunities!

Lea
Guest

Interesting blog Nick. The cat dynamics are truly fascinating. Sad that the cubs get killed in some cases, but guess that is nature. Hopefully she will have her cubs and they will survive to adulthood.

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