A gust whipped dust up into the air which swirled around the Land Rover as we made haste for camp. “Looks like rain,” said the guests in the row behind me. It was evening time and we were about to experience our first summer deluge. The clouds were gathering causing the daylight to fade prematurely. It was going to be a black night.

Driving through the windy darkness the spotlight lit up the eyes of some uneasy looking impala. They were gathered in a clearing as they usually do in the evening.  The clearing they hoped would provide them with relative safety for what was going to be a long night.

The wind gathered strength as darkness fell. Then, suddenly it stopped. All was quiet. Slowly at first, and then with weight, the rain came down. The first drops on my roof waking me up in my warm, sheltered room. I thought of the impala in the clearing.

Londolozi, Kruger national Park, leopard, moon, DD

Moonlit nights provide the impala with a better chance of spotting danger. However, even during a full moon, heavy cloud cover can turn the nights pitch black.

The wind, rain and darkness had turned it into a prefect night for leopards to hunt.

Heading out on drive the next morning things felt different. A feeling of novelty or change was in the air. The land looked clean, washed by the rain. There were lingering clouds but the rain had stopped.

That morning ten impala were to be found hoisted into trees by leopards. Some leopards had killed more than once.

The Mashaba female had hoisted one impala, her daughter the Mashaba young female, three! The Tamboti and Nkoveni females both made two kills and the Inyathini and Flat Rock males one each. These were only the ones that were found. Who knows how many others were killed and were either not found or were robbed before they could be hoisted out of reach of hyenas.

Londolozi, Kruger national Park, leopard with kill

A leopard hoists its meal out of reach of other predators like hyenas and lions who are unable to climb as well as leopards. Having the ability to hoist like this means that leopards will be able to stash their carcasses and thus feed on them slowly over a few days.

The Tamboti, Mashaba and Nkoveni females all have cubs at the moment and having more mouths to feed and benefited the most from the favourable hunting conditions.

The Mashaba young female was particularly successful, hoisting three separate kills. Leopards will instinctively kill more than once if the opportunity presents itself and stash prey up in a tree. It’s impressive to see this young two-and-a-half year old leopard already proving herself to be such a successful hunter. Once hoisted high in a Leadwood tree her prey was safe from all other predator species, except her own. In the days that followed two female leopards – the Tatowa and Tamboti females – found her stash and she was forced to share. This is a story that Amy Attenborough will share in a separate blog coming soon.

londolozi, Kruger national Park, leopard, mashaba young female, leadwood

The Mashaba young female with one of her three kills. The other two kills were stashed in two other trees in the vicinity.

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
40 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
3 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.

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18 sightings by Members
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Mashaba 5:3 Young Female

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

It is interesting to note that all ten kills made were impala. It is the most abundant antelope species here but are also optimal prey for leopards. This is because they are large, providing food for a few days but still small enough to make the hunt safe and is manageable in terms of hoisting.

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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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
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
20 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
10
Tamboti 4:3 Female
2007 - present

The Tamboti female inhabits the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.

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Tamboti 4:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
33 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
3 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

Although the impala have to endure these treacherous nights, the onset of the rains brings life for the coming season. Next month the impala will start dropping their young all at once, keeping the beautiful balance of nature intact.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Tamboti 4:3 Female

Tamboti 4:3 Female

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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Mashaba 5:3 Young Female

Mashaba 5:3 Young Female

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Mashaba 3:3 Female

Mashaba 3:3 Female

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Flat Rock 3:2 Male

Flat Rock 3:2 Male

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Inyathini 3:3 Male

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About the Author

Rob Jeffery

Field Guide

Rob joined the Londolozi team at the start of 2017. Having grown up on a farm in the Cape and spending many holidays traveling Southern Africa he developed a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural world. After completing a ...

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7 Comments

on 10 Kills, 6 Leopards, 1 Dark Night

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Rob it sounds like a suspence thriller. Great writing. Wonderful to see the Mashaba young female doing so well. Viewed her when she was 10 months old.

Denise Vouri

Wow! That was quite a game drive after the rain. Only leopards are mentioned-were lions lucky as well? I always find it fascinating that after killing their prey, they have the jaw strength to then hoist it up a tree. Truly a remarkable animal.

Carolyn Whitaker

With so many young leopard mouths to feed, it is wonderful to learn of successful hunts like these! Thank you for sharing, Rob.

Wendy Hawkins

Wow how amazing is that that they killed so many, but good! Now they will have food to feed growing hungry cubs & themselves! I am so glad that you have had the rain as it does make such a difference to the bush – I saw that with our first rain at home, everything is so clean! Thank you Rob your pictures are wonderful! Have a great Sunday & week ahead 🙂

John Snyder

Great article, Rob. Hayden and I won’t soon forget our amazing Londolozi adventure with you as our guide. We are already biding our time until we can return.

Oliver Sinclair

Glad to hear that your rains have begun…

Eulalia Angédu

Impressive start Rob.Your pictures are fantastic.Keep up the Good work.

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