With 2017 seeing the senior leopard population of Londolozi taking some serious blows, in the form of the Piva male’s and Xidulu female’s deaths, both killed by the Avoca male lions, the start of this year has produced some wonderfully contrasting sightings, with a totally different leopard turning up alive and well recently.

The daughter of Sunsetbend female, is named Xidulu which means termite mound in Shangaan.

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Xidulu 2:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
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markings
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18 stories
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1 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
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7
Piva 3:2 Male
2010 - 2017

Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.

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Piva 3:2 Male

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

We can’t quite call these happy endings, as the leopards involved are still young and (hopefully) have their whole lives to play out, but on top of the rediscovery of the Tatowa female’s cubs last month, we now have the wonderful news of the Xidulu Young female being seen less than a kilometre from the Londolozi camps.

Many of you will remember that the Xidulu female was raising two 14-month old cubs at the time of her death. Both were just about old enough to be able to fend for themselves, particularly the female (females tend to leave their mothers slightly earlier than males). What we couldn’t predict was the death of the Piva male a few months later, who was the dominant male that patrolled the territory in which the cubs were being raised. Within a week, the Inyathini male had moved in from the south and was seen patrolling almost the exact same routes of his predecessor, which spelt big trouble for the newly-independent cubs, particularly the young male.

The Xidulu young male. Not seen for almost a year and presumed dead. The news about his sister is far happier, however.

Since no more sightings were had of the male Xidulu cub, we had to presume that he had been killed, or at least been forced out of the area. The latter was less likely, since the Piva male was still in control of the territory for a number of months after the Xidulu female’s death, and would almost certainly have been tolerant of a young male that he presumed to be his offspring.

Whatever the case, the male cub was seen no more, but of the female there were one or two intermittent sightings. Given that her immediate threats would more likely have come from females moving in to claim her mother’s territory, most notably the Nkoveni female, she would have been under serious pressure to keep a low profile.

She was seen once or twice around the Maxabene riverbed, but after that not for a good few months on Londolozi. Mala Mala reported her around her around their airstrip on a few occasions, but it has only been in the last week or so that we have had confirmed sightings of her back on Londolozi.

The Xidulu young female approaches James Souchon’s vehicle. Photograph by James Souchon

Her 2:2 spot pattern is easily discernible in this photo. Photograph by James Souchon

One can easily see that it’s the same female, if one compares this photo (taken in the middle of last year), to the photo above.

As fantastic as it is that she is alive and well, the fact remains that there is little space her for her. The area to the east of camp is firmly occupied by the Nkoveni female, with the Piccadilly female making consistent inroads. To the south and west of camp the big Mashaba female has been dominant for a number of years now, and further south one starts encountering the Tamboti female, Londolozi’s senior female.

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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
49 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
3 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
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6
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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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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

What chance does a diminutive 23-month old leopard have of eking out an existence amongst these much larger females, none of whom will be tolerant of her, despite possible genetic ties (the Piccadilly female is technically her older sister)?

Well, some.

Leopards are tremendously adaptable creatures, and with an absolute plethora of game around the Sand River, as well as extensive thickets in which to move and hide away, there is no reason that a small and resourceful female could not lead an unobtrusive existence for quite some time here. She would almost certainly bump into other individuals, and aggressive encounters would be almost guaranteed, but she’s now well past that magic 12-month mark. She has made it this far in the exact same circumstances just described, so really she just has to keep doing what she’s been doing.

Whether she keeps doing it on Londolozi however, remains to be seen…

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Xidulu 2:3 Female

Xidulu 2:3 Female

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Piva 3:2 Male

Piva 3:2 Male

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Inyathini 3:3 Male

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Nkoveni 2:2 Female

Nkoveni 2:2 Female

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Tamboti 4:3 Female

Tamboti 4:3 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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19 Comments

on Another Missing Leopard Cub Found Alive!

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Wendy Hawkins

Woohoo what stunning news!!! Thank you James 🙂

Darlene Knott

I have photos of this little gal when she was playing with her mama! I love her and am so happy she is still alive. Thanks so much for sharing her story of survival, James. May she continue to soldier on and find her own territory before long. What a beauty!

Marinda Drake

This is wonderful news James. Is it that female leopards are more resilient than male leopards? It seems as if female cubs have got a higher survival rate than male cubs.

Joanne Wadsworth

Exciting news on the new sightings! I had never thought of mature, older females as being considered a threat to younger females of another mother. Mistakenly I assumed the females banded together or at least tolerated others whereas the males would be the agressive one.

Jill Larone

Wonderful news, James!! Now, if only her brother would also come wandering out as well…it would be so fantastic, wouldn’t it? It’s great to see this little one has survived and grown into such a beauty! Hopefully, she will continue to thrive and have a good, long life! 😊💕

Victoria Auchincloss

We are keeping our fingers for this beautiful young leopard. Victoria

Guy Lacy Chapman

Aaaaah what an exciting story!

Callum Evans

Fantastic!!! I knew that she’d make it! I have heard of a similar story too: a leopard cub from Mala Mala in the 90s (dubbed the Airstrip Female), whose mother was killed when she was nine months old, managed to survive and establish a territory on the reserve. Hope that the Xidulu Young Male has just moved.

Denise Vouri

Fantastic news on the sighting of Xidulu ‘s female cub. It’s always heartening to learn of the survival of such a special animal, considering the perils of the bush for such a young motherless cub. Albeit, your comment that female cubs are more advanced than their male counterparts when they reach that twelve month mark suggests they have a better chance of surviving if left on their own, but considering the territorial reign of your aforementioned longtime residents, that she survived by somehow flying under their radar is a miracle.

Great story – I’ll be waiting for your follow up.

Mary Beth Wheeler

What good news! We enjoyed hours of watching her and her brother playing and wrestling last year, just before her mother was killed. Hope she can eke out a territory.

Earline Rochester

so happy she is back

Kelly Bernard

Epic tale!!!!!

Stephen Torgesen

Since I am new to this website, I was wondering if someone could give a summary of where the male and female leopard territories are in the Londolozi area and the same for the lion prides and males? Thank you

James Tyrrell

HI Stephen,

For leopards, visit leopards.londolozi.com for territorial info on all the resident individuals. The site is currently being updated, so within the next few weeks we should have it as current as possible.

For lions we don’t have a similar resource, but we’ll put out a blog in the next few weeks detailing which pride operates where.

REgards

Susan Strauss

Get out!! That is amazing news. (I believe) I saw her, her brother and mother together last April just before mom passed away. So wonderful!!

Malavika Gupta

This article is so full of hope. I hope the little cub survive well into adulthood. I look forward to seeing her on our next trip. Do you have periodic meetings with other camps in the area, informing each other of new wildlife additions – cubs, a new adult female, adult males etc? Do you also exchange photos so the other camps can easily identify any new animals that have been brought to their attention?

Michael & Terri Klauber

James, We love hearing good news about cubs! Will she get her own name soon?

James Tyrrell

Hi Guys,
Probably not for awhile, at least until she looks like she’s going to stick around…

Paige Dissanayake

Absolutely wonderful to hear!! I love tracking these leopard stories online – it makes me feel like I’m on safari again!

I hope that one day I can experience the wildlife in Londolozi – definitely one for the bucket list. I was blessed to visit the Botswana wildlife reserves, and I loved it so much that I was inspired to write my own blog about my experiences in the wilderness. Please do check it out if you have the chance! All photos are my own. Here is a link to my most recent blog post about the leopards that I encountered on safari there:
http://paigingdoctor.com/spotting-the-elusive-leopard/

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