The surviving cub of the Nanga female leopard was killed by lions this morning.

Wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time seems to happen far too regularly for this female, and on the banks of the Manyelethi riverbed she accidentally led the cub straight past where the beleaguered Tsalala pride was lying.

Nanga Leopard Jt

The Nanga female looks out from a marula tree in the heart of her territory.

Catching sight of the two leopards, the young lioness from the pride made a stealthy approach, eventually charging in right in front of the horrified eyes of ranger Alfie Mathebula, tracker Terrence Mahlaba and their horrified guests.

Terrence had been tracking the Nanga female in the Manyelethi, and hearing monkeys alarming, had sped up along the bank, eventually closing to a point from which he caught sight of the leopards about 100m in front of him.

Radioing Alfie that he had successfully found them, he moved back to the nearest road on which Alfie could collect him on the way to establishing the sighting. As he climbed onto the vehicle and they moved towards the last place Terrence had seen the leopards, Terrence suddenly caught sight of the ominous tawny shapes of lions lying close by in the river sand, and the lions had already seen the leopards!

The tragedy played out within seconds; a careful stalk by the lioness, a sudden rush, and the Nanga female only hearing the lion coming at the last second. The adult leopard, having been caught like this before, managed to make good her escape, but the small cub, barely two months old, was not quick enough and was caught and killed.

The Tailless female. Although it was the young lioness who killed the Nanga cub this morning, this old lioness must have been responsible for the deaths of a number of leopards in her time. Photograph by Callum Gowar

Just as we were celebrating the Nanga female finally rearing a cub to independence and now starting again, tragedy strikes once more.
That stretch of the Manyelethi seems to be ill-fated for leopard cubs, with the Tutlwa female losing her litter of three to the Marthly male only a few hundred metres away back in 2015. The 5:5 male also lost his life close by, and he was also killed by the Tsalala pride! And just over the hill, the Nanga female had a litter of a few years ago killed by the Tutlwa female herself.
That small section of the property is beginning to look like the Bermuda triangle for leopards; cubs in particular.

9
Nanga 4:3 Female
2009 - present

The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.

U
Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
12 sightings by Members
q

Nanga 4:3 Female

Lineage
Saseka Female
Identification
markings
Timeline
25 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
4 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

An enigmatic female not often encountered, this leopard lives to the north of the Sand River.

U
Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
2 sightings by Members
q

Tutlwa 4:3 Female

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

Incredibly, the 5:5 young male was adopted by his grandmother, the 3:4 female, and raised by her.

U
Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
2 sightings by Members
q

Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male

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

While we’re on the subject, the Tutlwa female, mentioned earlier, was – we strongly suspect – yet another Tsalala Pride victim. And one of the Nanga female’s first cubs was killed by the Tsalala pride on a giraffe carcass! Those names all seem intertwined in an ill-fated way.

5g7a8527

One of the last photographs of the cub, peering out from its rocky den. Photograph by Alex Jordan.

This is no dramatic novel, however. It is just the saga of rival, territorial predators co-existing in the same area. Tragic for us, normal life for them.
As unemotional as it may sound, the Nanga female’s body will respond quickly to the loss of her cub. No longer lactating, her hormonal response will be to fall back into pre-oestrus, a condition in which she is ready to reproduce. She will scent mark on bushes, pheromones in her urine letting the males know that she is once again ready to mate. She will call in the still morning air, advertising her presence to these same males.

They will find her, she will mate, and the cycle will begin again.

 

 

 

 

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Nanga 4:3 Female

Nanga 4:3 Female

Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
Tutlwa 4:3 Female

Tutlwa 4:3 Female

Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard
Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male

Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male

Spotted this leopard?
You've seen this leopard

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 ...

View James's profile

24 Comments

on Leopard Cub Killed by Lions

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Alessandra Cuccato

It’s nature but it is so very sad. Not much luck for Nanga. RIP little one.

Marinda Drake

It is sad but part of the natural cycle. Is it about 50% of leopard cubs that survive the first six months or is the mortality rate higher?

Joanne Wadsworth

Yes, I know it’s survival. And yes, I know life will renew and go on. But for just this one heartbeat, I’m allowing myself to feel sadness for the loss of little one peering over toward the camera.

Ginger Brucker

That is how I feel. Sweet little one.

Victoria Auchincloss

Always so sad to lose one of the wonderful animals. Hope that « Mother Nature » continues to follow her natural course and we will see another cub. Victoria

Prem Wilson

Oh no.. Heart my breaks! Damn how I feel very sad that cub life 😢💔 RIP Nanga cub beautiful… Leopard cub will run free so peaceful 😢💔

Mj Bradley

It is always sad to hear of a loss of a leopard.. It must have been horrifying to have it happen right in front of you. I hope next time Moya will find a safer area to raise her youngsters. Thank you for sharing!

Earline Rochester

I was so hoping Nanga would raise this cub to adulthood. Sad.

Wendy Hawkins

Oh this is so sad! Nature is harsh!!!!

Callum Evans

That is so sad to hear. I just hope it was quick. The Tsalala Pride and the Avoca Males seem to be the lions responsible for most of the predator-related leopard fatalities recently. There must be something significant about that area of Londolozi for it to be so dangerous for young leopards. Maybe predator density or the type of habitat?

James Tyrrell

Callum I think just bad luck. Although the riverbed and attending koppies do tend to attract the lions and leopards respectively, so the chances of them running into each tother there would in all likelihood be higher.

Callum Evans

I guess if any one area attracts a high number of large predators of several species, there is bound to be competition and conflict.

Michaela Hoffmann

That’s truly sad, some leopards seem to have too much bad luck…
I visited the Sabi Sands for the first time in July’17 – not at Londolozi, although I hope there’ll be a first time too some time soon! During that time I was lucky to see several leopards including Nanga (Moya) with her cub. You mentioned that she raised this cub to independence – do you have any information about this young female’s whereabouts or if she has been named by any lodge? Any feedback would be appreciated as I’m terribly curious concerning her and there are very few reports of other lodges. (First time in months that this little girl was seen seemed to be at the beginning of February by Nkorho.)
Anyway, I very much enjoy reading the Londolozi blog – your experiences are always described so well I often feel like having seen it by myself!

James Tyrrell

Hi Michaela,

Thanks for your kind words.
The Nanga young female (daughter of Moya) we still see fairly regularly on Londolozi. She is a bit too young to establish territory, so will most likely be tolerated on her mother’s territory for the next while.I don’t think she’ll have been named by any lodge yet.
We’ll put out an update if we see her soon.
Best regards,
James

Michaela Hoffmann

Thank you so much for answering that quickly, James! I’m looking forward to any news, especially about the leopards I’ve personally seen. It’s funny how attached you become to those cats as soon as they step out of the anonymity of the bush by getting a name by those who see them regularly. And I’ll definitely return to the Sabi Sands in the next few years – Londolozi would probably the perfect place to do so, we’ll see… 🙂

James Tyrrell

Great, look forward to seeing you here!

Darlene Knott

Loving leopards the way that I do, this is very hard to read. I know it is nature’s way and that rival predators are obviously enemies because they compete for the same food. But looking into that sweet little face and those big blue eyes make it very hard to justify in my mind. Obviously not in the minds of a rival who has something to gain from the cub’s demise. Nature goes on and I have to say, I am happy I was not there for that sighting.

Lucie Easley

Nature is neither merciful nor cruel. It just is. Yet, at times it really is hard on the human heart.

Denise Vouri

Ahh, the circle of life seems so cruel sometimes. Our human instinct is to champion the little ones, wishing them an adulthood where they can make their own way. I’ve not met Nanga’s cub, but the photo of it immediately drew me in and I am sad for its loss, and the horrific way it happened. We tend not to blink twice if a lion/leopard takes down an impala or like prey, but it’s the loss of these felines that pulls at the heartstrings. I “met” a young male leopard in Singita last year – Monzo, and follow him as best I can. He’s over two now and I hope he’s strong and smart enough to carve out his own territory. One tries not to become attached but ….!

Gillian Evans

That’s very sad and must have been incredibly upsetting for the guests. We were lucky enough to see the earlier Nanga cub when she was still suckling a year ago last March and again last November when she had become independent from her mother. It was truly magical to watch a leopard growing up and surviving against the odds.

Kim Heckman

I was dismayed to read this update on the Nanga cub! So sad, though I know it is nature. The Nanga female has always been my favorite….so beautiful. She’s had a rough go of it with cubs and I was so looking forward to seeing this one making it to independence. How much longer will she be able to mate and have cubs? Does that stop at a certain age of the leopard? Thanks. Kim

James Tyrrell

Hi Kim,
she is only 9 years old so should be able to have cubs again for a good few years, up to about 14/15 yrs old.
If leopards lose their cubs the turnaround time until a new litter can be fairly quick, sometime as short as 4 months, so we certainly anticipate her giving birth again this year.
Best regards

Iris Lane

Shame. You need to encourage Mum to move house and area!

Lynn Rattray

I always wait with baited breath for news of the beautiful Nanga leopard. I had the life changing experience of spending extended time with her and her two cubs in 2013….her second set of cubs, I believe. She was amazing to watch and so very beautiful. And those blue eyed cubs…so inquisitive and precious. Nanga and her cubs carved out a place in my heart, so this is not the news I wanted to read about. That said, I do so appreciate being kept up to date on my favorite leopard. I’ll pray for better news next time and hope she will be successful in her next attempt at raising cubs. Love her!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
+
Add Profile