It has been over three weeks since the big floods that changed the course and appearance of the Sand River. Only in the last few days have the water levels subsided enough for us to be able to rebuild Taylor’s Crossing and so enter the northern parts of Londolozi.
On the very first drive north of the river and around the area known as Marthly we managed to track down and find the Tutlwa female leopard. It was an incredible find by Solly Mhlongo as he navigated his way over a set of tracks for nearly 45 minutes. The smiles on all our faces was wonderful as we realised that Solly had just found us the leopard, considered by rangers and trackers alike, to be the current Holy Grail of Leopards at Londolozi.
An enigmatic female not often encountered, this leopard lives to the north of the Sand River.
Smiles of joy soon turned to utter jubilation as a little head poked up from behind a fallen log. It was the beautiful face of one of her youngsters. A little nervous at first I had to remind the guests that these leopards had just survived a flood thorough the heart of their territory and would not have seen a car since. We sat at a distance and watched them for close on an hour. They relaxed enabling me to get one descent picture which shows just how much this cub had grown since I had last seen him.
Sadly there was no view of the second youngster. It is still too early to say for sure that this cub is no more but things look a little bit bleak at present. This has always been a leopard family that we hardly ever see so it may be some time until we can be sure what the outcome is of this trio.
This is a video by Rich Laburn back in July 2011 when one of the two youngsters were filmed for the first time.
Written by Adam Bannister