The hype around leopard cubs tends to focus around the younger ones.

Which female has just given birth? Where is she denning? Can we see the cubs being carried? And for good reason I suppose, as a sighting of very young leopard cubs is almost unheard of anywhere outside a few select reserves.

As evidenced by yesterday’s post, however, the lives of most small leopards are invariably fleeting. This is simply the harsh reality of the bush. And while the excitement over small cubs waxes and wanes depending on the viewing potential, certain females who happen to be raising cubs often continue to successfully operate outside of the limelight.

The Tamboti female is one such individual. Somehow not embroiled in the drama that has shaped Londolozi’s leopard population over the past year, with the most notable mark on the timeline being the death of the Piva male, she has gotten her single remaining cub to almost a year of age.

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

49 stories
1 known
3 known
Tamboti Leopard Cub Tails Jt

Leopard tails can be very expressive of mood. It seems that both mother and cub had energy to burn off on this morning, as their tails were all over the place.

As mentioned in a post on the now-deceased Xidulu female, after they reach about 12 months old, the mortality rate of young leopard cubs drops off dramatically. They are by no means out of the woods, but for all intents and purposes, they have certainly turned a corner when it comes to their chances of reaching independence.

It’s impossible to give an exact date of the Tamboti cub’s birth, but from the size it was when we first started viewing the litter, we estimate it to have been born in late April of 2017, which means it’s coming up to its 1st birthday. Birthdays are certainly happy occasions, and in the case of this cub, the best gift it can get is its default entry into that illustrious bracket of 12-months-and-older individuals whose day-to-day survival is statistically less of a question mark.

Tamboti Female Cub Marula Jt

Leopard cubs will play with each other if the litter is bigger than one, but in the case of single cubs, it is their mother they look with which to engage in play and mock-hunting.

What we will most likely see over the coming month’s are the cub’s first tentative steps towards an independent lifestyle. Hunting small mammals and birds will start becoming the norm rather than the exception, and stalking and pouncing games with its mother will be regular features of sightings in which the two of them are seen together.

Tamboti Leopard Cub Together Jt

Mother and daughter, although spending slightly less time together, still share a strong bond.

Tamboti Leopard Cub Fall Jt

The climbing skills of leopards isn’t always infallible. Here the cub loses its balance after stepping on the wrong branch.

A leopard of a year or older can survive much longer periods without food than a small cub, so the Tamboti female will be leaving the young female alone far more regularly.

The process of gaining independence will naturally be a gradual one as the adult spends less and less time with the cub. Only in circumstances such as those of the Xidulu cubs, in which their mother was suddenly killed, will the litter be given an abrupt shove into life without a benefactor.

Tamboti Leopard Cub Guests Land Rover

Pete Thorpe, Bennet Mathonsi and their guests enjoy a superb sighting of the Tamboti female and her cub.

As the cub approaches the one-year mark, we look forward to it joining the Ximungwe female, the Nanga young female and the Ndzanzeni young male as the next generation of Londolozi leopards.

Filed under Leopards

Involved Leopards

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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on Leopard Cub Approaches One Year

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Marinda Drake

We were priviledged to watch this cub and her mother a few months ago when she was around 7 or 8 months old. Got amazing photos and video footage. It is wonderful that she has grown up without any incident.

Carol Sturgeon

This is great news after the blog yesterday, losing that poor little cub to lions! It’s always good to hear of the ones with the tenacity and fortitude to outweigh the odds!!!! And I’m sure a whole lot of luck!

Callum Evans

Such a beautiful post of a rare success story! Personally, I’d love to see more posts about the older leopard cubs and their progress (maybe a progress report for leopard cubs on the reserve would be a good idea?).

Callum Evans

Also, has this cub been seen making any small kills and if so, of what?

Joanne Wadsworth

As a nice contrast to yesterday’s post about the young cub’s death, it’s quietly reassuring to read about life and it’s hopeful continuance. Thanks, James.

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