“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
Patience certainly paid off for us on this particular morning. Let us tell you how it all played out…
It all started when we hastily left the camp. Somebody had reported a leopard calling somewhere close by. Clearly a leopard was up and about and there was a good chance of finding it. The radio call came through later than expected – “we have located a male leopard”. We rushed at the opportunity. Even though we had not found the leopard ourselves, we had been following his tracks and so the excitement had been building.
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
It was the Inyathini male. He was quite far out of his normal range – a consequence of the vacant territory left by the deceased Piva male. As the Inyathini male walked he would periodically stop to sniff for signs of other leopards before letting out a series of deep, rasping calls that advertised his stake of the area. Being in the presence of a large, wild leopard letting out a territorial call is indescribable.
The Inyathini male crossed over the boundary of Londolozi, continuously calling as he entered a neighboring reserve. It was not over yet though… We could hear the calls of a female leopard responding. Next came a cacophony of growls. Our expectation was that they would mate. How wrong we were!
Part of the joy of a safari is the anticipation of what might come…
Suddenly, in the distance, we saw a leopard leap into the top of a tree.
We waited patiently for the leopard to come down as we pondered why she wouldn’t mate with the male.
For at least twenty minutes we could not see anything. The alarm calls of birds and squirrels became closer and closer though, so we knew the leopard was coming our way. Eventually, we got sight of the leopard again. The universe seemed to be in our favour as the leopard came right towards us and crossed the road back into Londolozi. We were ecstatic. Our perseverance had paid off. Little did we know, our morning was just beginning…
The leopard turned out to be the Tamboti female. The reason she wouldn’t mate became clear. She had cubs already. We were sure she would lead us to the cubs and our excitement mounted! There is nothing quite as amazing as viewing leopard cubs!
The Tamboti female inhabits the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
We followed her literally for hours. She would walk slowly, sniff the air, and then rest. We hypothesized that she was making sure it was safe to go to where the cubs were stashed. She avoided being detected at all costs.
She would stop to sleep periodically, even sleeping for an hour at a time. We wondered if we were on a fool’s errand as we waited, not so patiently at times, for her to awake. Our emotions went from high as we followed to low as she slept. Not even a squirrel continuously calling an alarm from a nearby tree seemed to wake her. Would we ever even get to see the cubs?
Once again however, our patience paid off. The leopard switched from being fast asleep to on-the-move within a matter of a few minutes.
Our emotions were spinning out of control as we realized where she was leading us – straight to the cubs!
There they were! One was up in the tree playing with the other sibling watching when their mother arrived. They were ecstatic to see her. So much so that the cub in the tree came tumbling down to greet her.
It is almost impossible to describe our feelings as we observed the mother and cubs interacting with one another. We literally got goosebumps as we watched the leopards reunite and raw joy bubbled up inside us. We had waited patiently throughout the whole morning, with the hopes of getting even just a glimpse of the cubs, knowing all too well that it may not even happen.
When it all came together, there was nowhere else in the world we’d rather be…
Blog written by Londolozi Guest, Judith Boch and Guide Pete Thorpe