We often play ‘the days of the week’ game here as staff. Working for six weeks straight, we don’t experience the usual rhythm of the five-day work week with a weekend to punctuate it in-between. We can choose to either see every day as a sparkling Saturday, or we can choose to see it as a dreary Monday – it’s all about the mindset. To that end, most of the time we lose track of what day of the week it is, and mark our days by milestones instead… Whether it was an uncharacteristically rainy day, or an amazing animal encounter right in the confines of the camp.

This past Tuesday, I embarked on a quiet run after the work day had wound down. I didn’t really have a purpose or direction, and rather let the run guide me as to where to move through camp. Something was pulling me towards running along the camp path (the well-known walkway that connects all five of the Londolozi Camps). I twisted my way along from Tree Camp, under the cool canopy of trees that shade the path. Being a photographer, I whipped out my phone to get a quick shot of the way the light was filtering through the trees as I neared Varty Camp.

Varty Camp, Londolozi Game Reserve

The light trickles through the trees on the camp pathway between Tree Camp and Varty Camp. Photograph by Amanda Ritchie

Once again, letting my gut guide me, I continued down towards the Varty Camp deck. I could have turned left and taken a different path, but something tugged at me to head towards the river. Rounding the corner, I bumped squarely into Kylie Jones, our photography guru, waving her camera around with wild excitement in her eyes. “Mating leopards!” she cried, and my head whipped around to search the riverine bush for the familiar rosette pattern of a leopard. I heard them before I saw them when the Flat Rock male and Nkoveni female snapped loudly at each other as they pulled apart after mating.

Nestled amongst the dense bushes, the Flat Rock male and the Nkoveni female mated. Shot at 1/160 sec at f/5,6 ISO 800. Photograph by Kylie Jones

The flat Rock male leaps off of the Nkoveni female after mating. Shot at 1/160 sec at f/5,6 ISO 800. Photograph by Kylie Jones

4
Flat Rock 3:2 Male
2013 - present

A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.

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Spotted this leopard?
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16 sightings by Members
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Flat Rock 3:2 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
20 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 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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26 sightings by Members
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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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

My eyes locked in on the two leopards, resting in the shade of a palm. As my eyes adjusted, I heard the quiet movement of an elephant and noticed two grey giants peacefully feeding on vegetation mere meters away from the two leopards. As if the scene in front of me was a wild ‘Where’s Wally’, I began to notice more and more elephants as the rest of the herd moved and fed. (Can you spot the leopards and the elephants in the video below?)

Slowly but surely other staff caught wind of this incredible sighting and they started to trickle in from all corners of the camp. We stood – in awe of what was happening right there in front of us- as the two leopards continued to mate, growl and rest and the small breeding herd moved fluidly up and down the riverbed, unperturbed by their behavior.

The Flat Rock Male growls at the elephants encroaching on their space. Shot at 1/160 sec at f/5,6 ISO 800. Photograph by Kylie Jones

Staff trickled in and watched the leopards mating in and amongst the herd of elephants while the sun began to set over the riverbed. Photograph by Amanda Ritchie

We discussed the dynamics of the leopards and debated which ones we thought they could be (before we positively identified them after Tally Smith arrived and assumed command of the binoculars). We commiserated over the recent death of the Nkoveni female’s cub, having been killed by the very male that she was now mating with – something we believe might have been deliberate as mating was as a means of distraction, preventing him from killing the second of her litter.

The afternoon went on in this manner, as the sun began to set and cast a pink glow over the granite rocks in the river. During a silent moment, I quietly murmured “Guys… it’s a Tuesday afternoon. What’s everyone in a city doing right now? Stuck in traffic? Sitting on a spinning bike? Doing laundry?” It was at this moment that we realized that these three things – two mating leopards and a herd of elephants- were the difference between happiness and the perpetual Sunday blues. It serves as a constant reminder to embrace the wild moments of your life, let yourself be pulled by your gut and trust that maybe, just around the next corner, you’ll feel the wilderness fulfill you in ways you didn’t expect it to.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Flat Rock 3:2 Male

Flat Rock 3:2 Male

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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You've seen this leopard

About the Author

Amanda Ritchie

Marketing & Photography Manager

Amanda joined the Londolozi team early in 2015 & immediately took the Londolozi Studio to an exciting new level. Her unflappable work ethic & perfectionism are exemplary, & under her guidance the Studio has become one of the busiest areas on Londolozi. The ...

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15 Comments

on Three Things About a Tuesday That You’ll Never Experience in the City

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Marinda Drake

Amazing experience Amanda. It is always the best things in life that don’t happen too far from your doorstep. Sad about the female cub. Lovely to see the elephants together with the leopards. Were they just inquisitive as the staff were?

Amanda Ritchie

Lovely to hear from you again, Marinda! The Ellies were really not phased at all by the leopards, and simply kept feeding up and down the riverbed. It was amazing to watch!

Callum Evans

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Tuesday afternoon, definetely trust your gut!! This is why I’ve wished I was in the bush instead of the city innumerable times!!

Amanda Ritchie

Thank you for the comment, Callum! Even though you can’t be here every afternoon, we hope that the blog each day connects you with the wilderness… even if just for a few minutes.

Callum Evans

Pleasure Amanda!! I wish I was there every afternoon!! Haven’t been to the bush in 2 years, I’m getting serious withdrawal symptoms! These blogs are a godsend for me! You’re right, they really connect me with the wilderness and with all your experiences. Thank you!

Leonie De Young

What a fantastic experience Amanda. Lovely blog and thanks for sharing with us. You are living in a beautiful place and I so envy you.

Amanda Ritchie

Thank you Leonie, I totally agree, and am very grateful for this beautiful place we live in!

Jeff Rodgers

This and so much more is why we keep coming back to Londolozi year after year after year.

Amanda Ritchie

Thanks Jeff! Hopefully the leopards will be on point the next time you visit us 🙂

Gawie Jordaan

I would rather watch growling leopards than sitting in traffic.. your spot on.

Amanda Ritchie

Agreed! You’ll have to come and visit and experience a Tuesday afternoon like this soon!

Michael & Terri Klauber

We love that we never know what will happen next when we are at Londolozi! Thanks for the great post Amanda! Safari dreams!

Amanda Ritchie

It is the best thing about safari, Michael! Around every corner is something new… Hope you and Terri are well!

Darlene Knott

Wow, I just saw this! What an exciting run you had, Amanda! I watched the video in awe. Completely unperturbed by the elephants, those two mated–I love nature! Thanks so much for sharing. Sorry I am behind on my ‘mail’, so this comment comes a little late!

Amanda Ritchie

Thanks so much for the comment, Darlene. It was quite an exciting afternoon. Glad we could share it with all of you!

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