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 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 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…
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
This rangy male is rather an enigma, having arrived on Londolozi in the mid to latter parts of 2014 and staying mainly in the western areas.