The beauty of Londolozi is that it draws people from all walks of life together through a shared passion for nature.
Jacqui Hemphill, Londolozi’s Head of Sales, started as a camp manager here in 2007, and then after a brief time away, returned to head up the Sales Division. Being based in Johannesburg, Jacqui doesn’t get down to the bush as often as she would like these days, but her job fortunately requires her to visit the lodge every couple of months or so. Not one to miss an opportunity, Jax jumps on every game drive she can to further hone her photographic skills (she has won competitions for her work), and often joins Amy and I when we head out to film.

Jax and I have shared some memorable sightings at Londolozi together, but our recent one of the Nanga female and her cub has to be the best by a long way. In fact I would go as far as to say it was one of my top leopard sightings ever! For over an hour we watched as the two leopards chased each other through the sands of the Manyelethi rivebed, across boulders and up and down trees.

The sighting itself was utter magic, but the fact that it was just us two friends enjoying it together made it that much more special. With over 2000ha to ourselves on the northern side of the Sand River that morning, it was an incredible privilege spending time in the company of the two leopards, and highlighted how lucky we are to do what we do.

With the long grass of summer very prevalent across the Nanga female’s territory, we were lucky to have the two leopards in a dry riverbed, where the viewing was much more open.

The female and her cub near a pool in the Manyelethi riverbed where they have been spending a lot of time. Dense thickets and rocky banks in the area allow the cub many hiding places when her mother goes off hunting. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

Constant games of cat and mouse allow the cub to hone its skills of stalking and pouncing. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

The Nanga female, still relatively young herself, seems more than happy to indulge her cub in these games. Photograph by James Tyrrell

The cub lopes across the sands of the Manyelethi. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

Nanga 4:3 Female
2009 - present

The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.

Nanga 4:3 Female

Saseka Female
16 stories
2 known
4 known

The flehmen grimace is usually employed by adult leopards testing the scent of another individual in the area, be it a rival or a potential mate. The cub displaying the behaviour here is more than likely just a case of it practicing on the scent of its mother. Photograph by James Tyrrell

At this young age, the bushveld environment is full of opportunities for exploration and learning. The cub moved up and down this little rocky outcrop repeatedly, chewing sticks and branches and playing with balls of elephant dung. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Playing with objects like this ball of elephant dung gives the cub an opportunity to strengthen its muscles, flex its claws and hone its reflexes. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

A slow stalk towards its mother as the sun backlights the cub’s whiskers. Photograph by James Tyrrell

It’s difficult for a leopard mother to get a moment’s peace, especially when raising a single cub. Two or three cubs will spend a lot of time paying with each other, but a single cub only has its mother to play with and potentially annoy. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

Leopards are remarkably agile animals. Here the female leaps up and over in an attempt to avoid a swipe from her cub. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Constant games of chase and catch are beneficial for both individuals. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Even though they are officially described as solitary animals, there is nevertheless a very strong bond between a mother leopard and her cub(s) during the early months of the cub’s life. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

I’m not sure if the cub was imitating its mother in this photo and the next, but there was still some wonderful symmetry between the two leopards. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Long tongues make for effective grooming agents. Photograph by James Tyrrell

An irritated cub snarls at its mother to get off it. Photograph by Jacqui Hemphill

Cubs have a lot of energy, but still need to rest from time to time. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Involved Leopards

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

More stories by James


on Photographing Leopards With My Friend
    Rocco Rossouw says:

    Great Pictures of my favorite friends.

    Mary Beth Wheeler says:

    What a fantastic experience it was to see Nanga and her cub like this! The images are wonderful and the video brings it all to life. Thanks!

    Kathleen Pharoah says:

    Absolutely gorgeous thanks for sharing!

    Darlene Knott says:

    I am so envious! The leopard is my favorite animal and the interactions between mama and a cub are the best! Loved the photos! Thanks.

    Lea says:

    Beautiful blog James and Jacqui. The pictures and video are awesome. Love leopards. Thank you both.

    Lynn Rattray says:

    These pics/video are so awesome and so appreciated. It been 4 years and I still carry the Nanga leopard in my heart. To see her with this cub gives me hope that she will be successful in raising it to maturity. Thanks so much for this post!

    Gwyn says:

    Special time. Lovely.

    Les Moodie says:

    Wonderful Photographs!

    Michael & Terri Klauber says:

    All we can say is WOW! What a fantastic sighting – loved the video!

    Tommy lee says:

    Brilliant love these images abd details here. About the lions another subject i know but it has been too quiet lately..majings? Matimbas and birmingham boys? The rogues seen near the air strip sabi sands? And im sure there are more that i cant remember now coalitions prides movements take overs ? Etc…i miss hearing about them and seing them .the lion is my 2nd most favourite animal 1st being the bengal tiger which kind of ties with wolves and african dogs! πŸ™‚ …i look forward to hearing about young male lions making something of themselves establishing their presence over other males and females …facing other male lions in combat roars heard here and there coalitions marching..drama.

    Laura Eberly says:

    What a great gift! Thank you!!

    Allen Oliver says:

    WOW!!! Excellent pictures!

    TED SWINDON says:


    James Tyrrell says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone.
    It was a truly spectacular sighting!

    Wendy Hawkins says:

    Wow these are just stunning moments with these two precious leopards! Thank you Jacqui & James for sharing them with us. πŸ™‚

    Barbara says:

    Africa has so many of the greatest animals on earth!

    Karin Braby says:

    What amazing photographs and such a special video of the most beautiful cat on earth. Thank you for sharing this incredible experience with us James!

    Mary Moy says:

    What an absolute joy to watch the Leopard and cub at play.

    Susan Strauss says:

    Pure joy…thank you!

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