Last October the Tutlwa 4:3 female leopard gave birth to a single cub. Denned between large granite boulders in a thin tributary close to the Sand River, both cub and mother were elusive and infrequently seen. Months later, the details surrounding the demise of her cub are still a mystery. Spending much of her time wandering a small territory on both sides of the Sand River, her first attempt at raising a cub was unsuccessful. She had no other choice but to carry on and try again, this time with the Marthly 3:2 male.
An enigmatic female not often encountered, this leopard lives to the north of the Sand River.
This male moved in from the north of the reserve in 2010, and was instantly recognisable by his unique tuft of fur at the back of his neck.
A few days ago, we spotted this petite leopard. Elegantly perched in a Weeping Boer Bean, an impala hoisted between the fork of this shady tree, she seemed relaxed yet at times restless. She had a new cub, hidden somewhere in the surrounding winter scrub, which was clearly under her watchful eye.
Moments later, she moved silently down the branch, picked up her kill and the leapt out of the tree onto a termite mound. Dragging the carcass into the dusty brown grass, she dropped it and began softly calling in earnest. A pause here and a glance there, her body stiffened then relaxed as the cub arrived.
It was hard to see at first, but the excitement of witnessing this tiny creature cautiously creep up to its mother was palpable. Mottled fur and a tiny head housing innocent eyes, the shy cub stuck close to its mother as she licked and cleaned its soft coat.
For the Tutlwa 4:3 female, this is a second chance at motherhood and attempting to raise a cub to maturity. This experience is an incredible journey, one that is tough yet richly rewarding for theLeopards of Londolozi and those who love to watch them. As with all moments in the bush, the element of uncertainty is that which makes it so exciting and at times heartbreaking. All of us at Londolozi can only hope that her experience has grown and this new journey will prove successful.
By Rich Laburn