It has been two months since our last update on the badly injured Ndzanzeni female. During that time she has made a remarkable recovery, and not only is her back left leg apparently healed, but she has continued to successfully provide for her ever-growing son, to the point where it looks like she may be about to push him into independence.

Leopards – and indeed most large carnivores – are remarkably resilient, with tremendous powers of regeneration. As long as they can maintain their food intake, they can recover from injuries that would probably prove fatal to a herbivore. The Ndzanzeni female, despite not being able to put any weight on her injured leg for well over two months, was nevertheless still catching bushbuck and impala with startling regularity. Her cub, who is knocking on the door of independence and is actually significantly larger than his mother now, would have been eating a substantial part of each of her kills, effectively halving the value she would gain from each hunting attempt, which makes her recovery that much more remarkable.

The video below is just to show the female walking normally, with no trace of a limp.

A picture from a few months ago when the cub and the Ndzanzeni female were seen together far more regularly.

The cub has been seen being left on his own for increasingly longer periods of time, and any day now his mother simply won’t come back for him. This, ultimately, is how young leopards make that big step; no one comes to take them to a freshly hoisted impala, and the realisation sinks in that they’re on their own. They simply wait and wait, getting hungrier and hungrier, and eventually hunger will override the impulse to wait for the return of their mother, forcing them to start venturing out to try and find food.

Reactions like this from the Ndzanzeni female will be what the cub can expect going forward, as she lets him know his presence is no longer welcome.

With the young male becoming independent, the Ndzanzeni female will most likely start mating soon. Should she give birth to female cubs, it will be an invaluable lifeline to the royal lineage of the Leopards of Londolozi.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

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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on Leopard Makes Miraculous Recovery

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Marinda Drake

Wonderfull news James. They are much more resillient than what we think. Nature always heal itself.

James Tyrrell

Hi Marinda. Indeed; she’s not the first leopard we’ve seen recover from what looks to be a career-limiting injury, but it’s the exception rather than the norm!

Darlene Knott

Great to hear, James! Thanks for letting us know!

James Tyrrell

You’re welcome Darlene. Good news for all!

John McCabe

Great news!!!

James Tyrrell


Michael & Terri Klauber

Great news James! We remember the amazing sighting when we were with Nick Kleer and your vehicle where the two of them were joined by the Inyathini male (father) up on a tree! It was a very intense family discussion!

James Tyrrell

Hi Michael and Terri. I remember that sighting well! Pretty amazing; some of the photos still rank among my favourites of this year!

Denise Vouri

Good to know the Ndzanzeni female has healed and is ready to move on “sans enfant “. I have always found it interesting that within the animal world, the young become independent much earlier than in the human world. I know that dogs and cats generally have a 7 year life span to 1 year of a human, so that would equate to an 18-24 month old leopard vs an 11-14 year old human moving to independence. We all know that a pre-teen is not equipped to live independently. All the best to her youngster and may her strong genes and fortitude perpetuate additional leopards within the Londolozi borders.
Great update!

James Tyrrell

Thanks Denise,
It is interesting making comparisons when you do the 7-t-1 year change. I guess a few hundred years ago a 14-yr-old child WOULD be moving into independence… Makes you think!
Best regards

Christa Blessing

I am so glad she has successfully recovered. Though it is part of the wilderness that animals get hurt and die, it is so wonderful to see such a great animal recover. Good luck to her!

James Tyrrell

Hi Christa,
Yes, it’s seldom that these stories have happy endings – at least our version of them – but it seems this one does. Although this is certainly not an ending…

Callum Evans

Fantastic, the reasilience of these cats always amazes me!! Fantastic to heat that the Mother Leopards legacy still survives!

James Tyrrell

We’re pretty thrilled too!

Susan Strauss

Yay! So glad

Wendy Hawkins

Oh that is just great news James! I’m always happy to hear good things about your/our beloved Leopards 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the week

James Tyrrell

Thanks Wendy, you too!

Mj Bradley

I am so happy that the Ndzanzeni female is doing well. Maybe with her next cubs she can raise a female to carry on her line. I really hope so. Thank you for keeping us updated!

James Tyrrell

We’re hoping so MJ!
With this latest cub sure to be independent within a few weeks, or a couple of months at the most I reckon, she will most likely be looking to reproduce again soon…

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