Only a few weeks ago we ran a post that examined the injury sustained by the Ndzanzeni female, the last leopard in the lineage of the original Mother Leopard with any hope of continuing her legacy.

The Ndzanzeni female photographed when struggling to put pressure on her foot. If you look carefully you’ll see that her back left leg is raised. Photograph by Alisatair Smith

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Mother Leopard
1975 - 1991

The original viewable leopard of Londolozi, if not Africa. In 1979 this leopard appeared as if by magic, allowing vehicles to view her.

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Mother Leopard

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

This female is a success story all in herself, being born as a single cub to the Dudley Riverbank female in early 2012.

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Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

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

For well over a month after she was first viewed with serious swelling around her hind left ankle, she refused to place any weight on the leg, hopping painfully along on her other three. Yet despite what we feared may well prove to be a fatal injury, she was still able to hunt, and over the course of a few weeks was found with a number of kills, feeding with her surviving male cub. Although certainly possible, it was doubtful that any of the kills had been made by the young male, as at just over a year old his hunting abilities are likely to be limited. By far the more likely scenario is that the female was still successfully catching and killing impala and bushbuck despite her physical impairment.

Despite this recent set back, the Ndzanzeni female seems to be making a recovery. Recently she was found will a kill hoisted in a tree that we can only assume she made. Photograph by Alistair Smith

In the previous post about her, we cited the case of the Dudley Riverbank 3:3 young male, who made a full recovery from a similar injury.

Thankfully, it seems as though a similar scenario is unfolding with the Ndzanzeni female. Not only has she been found continuing to hunt successfully, but recent sightings of her have seen her placing steadily more and more pressure on her injured leg. Amy Attenborough recently viewed her engaged in typical catch-me-if-you can game with her cub in the branches of a weeping boer bean tree, which isn’t what you’d expect from a leopard with a damaged ankle. If she had been resting for a while she would limp for the first few steps but as the leg warmed up, the pain seemed to ease and she could put weight on it once more.

Despite her male cub being almost the same size as her, he is only about a year old and it is unlikely he was able to bring down the adult bushbuck they were feeding from recently. Photograph by Alistair Smith

The signs are all there for her to make a full recovery. Ranger Alistair Smith recently watched the Ntsevu lionesses break out of cover with the remains of a kill between them, but from the look of the carcass and the way it had been fed on (if my memory serves me correctly it was a bushbuck), it was a kill that had been robbed from a leopard. Since the Inyathini male, the other territorial individual to patrol in that area, was on a different part of the reserve at the time, it seems likely that the kill was stolen by the lions from the Ndzanzeni female. As unlucky as losing the kill may have been for her, the fact remains that she was still able to catch the antelope in the first place, and then nimble enough to evade the lions when they came onto the scene. Had she still been badly injured, it may have been her, rather than the bushbuck, that Alistair would have seen clamped between the lioness’ jaws.

Although the Ndzanzeni female limps quite a bit when she has been resting for a while, her walking improves the more that she moves. This bodes well for both her and her youngster as well as the lineage of the Mother Leopard.

This leopard shows us that even when we experience pain in life, we don’t have to choose to suffer too. Despite her condition, she continues to show incredible depths of resilience. Life is full of trials of varying kinds and the Ndzanzeni female is the perfect example of how you can pull through even when the chances appear slim. What could have been a very sad ending to the story of the Ndzanzeni female, her cub, and indeed the lineage of the Mother Leopard, looks set not to end today.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Mother Leopard

Mother Leopard

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Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

Ndzanzeni 4:3 Female

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Dudley Riverbank 3:3 Female

Dudley Riverbank 3:3 Female

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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 ...

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11 Comments

on Resilience is What Gets You Through Life

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Wonderful news that she is recovering from the injury. There are so many lessons to be learned from nature.

Alessandra Cuccato

Fantastic news!

Carolyn Whitaker

Stay strong! We all are pulling for you!

Denise Vouri

Both humans and animals have a resiliency that surfaces when pushed to limits that seem insurmountable. Call it strength, courage, determination to survive- we salute all those that persevere to survive.

Earline Rochester

Very very happy to hear this!!!

Mary Beth Wheeler

Happy leopard news is just what we’re pleased to see! And I love the image of mother and son striding side by side. Thanks!

Susan Strauss

So relieved and happy for her.

Oliver Sinclair

If that is a recent picture then there still seems to be quite a bit of atrophy to her back leg and so hopefully with her being more active now we may see the recovery of the muscles to that leg.

Mj Bradley

Wonderful news, I hope she can now raise a female cub or two, after her son becomes independent.

Callum Evans

Big cats are definetly some of the most resiliant animals in my books. This leopard reinforces that in my mind. Really glad to see that the Mother Leopard’s lineage is still surviving. Oh and I’m pretty sure that the kill that the Ntsevu lioness robbed the Ndzanzeni female was a grey duiker, I saw Alistair Smith’s photo on Instagram.

Eulalia Angédu

Awesome pictures,interesting texts good work James.

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