It took John Varty 11 years to film leopards mating for the first time. It took us 11 minutes.
Boyd Varty had not driven far out of the camp. Ambling along the banks of the Sand River, the afternoon was whimsical, cloudless and as near perfect as you could get in the African bushveld. There were lions nearby but inaccessible without considerable effort and damage to the environment. We pressed on instead. Ours was an afternoon without expectation and, in nature, this is when the rewards are the greatest.
Barely more than ten minutes later, nature spoke to us in her serendipitous manner. A flash of tails in the grass and the two leopards exposed themselves. Soaking up the late afternoon sun, the pair were behaving as if we didn’t exist. Seconds later, in the broad openness of daylight, the pair mated and then fell back to sleep. “It took John Varty 11 years to film mating leopards for the first time.” said Boyd aware of the unique situation. We did not need to stay with them for much longer. They had given us the gift of their presence and behaviour. We left shortly after with my mind still reeling from the apparent casualness of such a spectacular encounter.
This fact speaks volumes about how prolifically and positively leopard viewing has developed over the last 30 years at Londolozi. The constant importance that has been placed on the respect and protection of these beautiful creatures has given way to incredible long term results. Too often we might look at short term solutions in order to find a quick fix, easy alternative or simple answer. It is however, real foresight, commitment and vision that ultimately gives way to sustainability and long term benefits. The sustainable and legendary viewing of these astonishing cats at Londolozi is the end result of such practices as part of a larger enduring commitment to the preservation of wildlife and the privilege of sharing it with the world.
Written, filmed and photographed by: Rich Laburn