The infrequently seen Campbell Koppies female was sighted on northern Londolozi two days ago. Having just killed an impala ewe, she proceeded to hoist and feed before making a contact call. Within minutes, much to our delight, her cub appeared to join in the feeding. It turned into, however, a comedy of errors which only served to display the young cub’s inexperience in dealing with hoisted carcasses. Here is the story below…
The Campbell Koppies female leopard is sighted with an impala kill which she proceeds to hoist into a Marula tree. Judging from the skin tears on the impala's rump, the leopard began eating her on the ground before deciding to hoist into the safety of this nearby tree.
After a brief bout of eating, she looks up and calls softly into the bushveld. Persistent and resonant, her calls are undoubtedly directed towards her cub. Seconds later she spots movement in the dry grass and descends the tree to investigate.
A young leopard sidles out from behind a guarri bush searching for the reaffirming contact calls made by his mother.
The Campbell Koppies female and her cub are reunited. Ever alert to potential signs of danger, especially around her hoisted carcass and with her cub around, she keeps a wary eye out.
Predators tend to get very thirsty as the blood dries in their mouths after feeding. As a result their tendency to drink shortly after eating is not uncommon. Having satisfied their thirst, they will often return to the carcass to feast on the remains of the meat.
My favourite picture of the sighting. The pair strut out onto a dirt track leading them back to the hoisted impala. The intensity and focus in each pair of eyes indicates that they are on one simple mission: feeding
It is always wonderful to see a young leopard climbing up a tree. At times agile, yet occasionally clumsy as well, young leopards will need to constantly practice climbing before they get confident and strong enough to hoist carcasses on their own. The young cub, halfway up the tree, was now preparing for the second leap up to the carcass.
The young cub pauses mid feeding to look around. Having left his mother at the base of the tree, he had the carcass all to himself. His inexperience, however, started to show as he began to move the carcass around with disastrous results.
Having shifted the carcass around a little too much, it soon began to lose its holding position and slide downwards away from the young cub. Digging the claws on his back paws into the branch of the tree, he did his best to yank it back, yet the weight of the impala was simply too much for him.
Trying desperately to cling onto the dangling impala as it slips out of his claws, the cub could not catch it in time. Moments later, it crashed through the branches before landing in a heap on the ground.
With an angry growl the Campbell Koppies female shows her annoyance. She now had to re-hoist the carcass and then let her inexperienced son try again.
Photographed by: John Holley