Dudley Riverbank Female was recently located walking along the road. She had clearly just eaten and was making her way towards a small pan in the south east of the reserve. This came as no surprise, however when she continued to walk on past the pan after drinking, we realized that something was out of the ordinary, as leopards generally don’t move around much when they are that full.
We followed the female leopard for a while, and she moved directly to a kill a couple of 100m from the pan.
It then became clear that it was possible that she initially had fed, returned to the den site to suckle her young and was now returning to feed again.
Richard Siwela, who has been working as a tracker at Londolozi for 32 years, back tracked on the leopard’s tracks to a rocky outcrop on the northern banks of a drainage line. After careful inspection, it was evident that there were definite signs of a den site having been formed, however no signs of the cubs.
For days, vehicles remained with the mother at the location of the kill, hoping she would return to the den site. But she never moved.
A few days later the remains of the carcass were seen with no leopard, and we made our way towards the presumed den site. When we arrived there was nothing there, yet as we slowly edged the vehicle around the rocky outcrop, the contrasting black and white tail tip of the female leopard was seen. The vehicle edged a little further forward and suddenly we saw the leopard lying in the open a couple of metres from the rocks.
After a minute or two of intense scanning, a rustle was heard from deep inside the rocks, and slowly but surely a very tentative 2 week old leopard cub exposed itself from the rocks and sat next to its mother. We sat patiently and after a few moments we saw a second cub emerge from the outcrop. It was a very special occasion, it is a huge reward for any ranger and tracker team to discover a new litter of cubs. After a very brief viewing all three animals moved off into the drainage line and were left in peace.
The Dudley Riverbank female was another successful cub of the 3:4 female that reached old age, eventually passing away at just over 17 years