Leopards are named according to the territories they hold and a young leopard takes on the name of its mother until they are independent and have established a territory of its own. The Vomba Young Female is the offspring of the Vomba Female and as such, until now, has kept her mothers name.
She is now almost 3 and a half and has established her own territory adjacent to her mothers along the Sand River. Although she hasn’t been seen mating, she is scent marking and calling, indicating that she is indeed territorial.
The Rangers and Trackers have therefore decided to call her The Mashaba Female. Mashaba being a drainage line she spends much of her time in. This post is a tribute to her. She is a favourite amongst rangers and guests alike and her energetic nature has provided viewers with thousands of stunning images. Here are a few of my favourites over the last couple of years. Enjoy…
This Marula branch forms an unlikely rest for her chin. The spot on her nose is unmistakable.
These branches provide a gap for her to peer at the oblivious approaching impalas
Sharpening her knives! Cats scratch trees to keep their claws honed and sharp as well as to remove dirt and debris. It could also be a means of stretching the ligaments that flex the claws in order to remove epidermal build up from the sheath area. Interestingly, leopards do this less frequently than other cats suggesting that they get enough exercise and cleaning from regular tree climbing.
Her black, white and honey coloured coat form quite a contrast with the pink of the Feather Plume Chloris grass on top of this termite mound.
The Leaning Tower of Mashaba. Balance, strength and agility are what make these cats the incredible climbers they are.
A view from below as she descends a tree with as much ease as her ascension.
Wedged in the fork of a Marula, she uses the height to gain vantage over Fluffies Clearing.
Her tongue protrudes, as if to taste the air like a serpent.
Atop a termite mound, her second favourite vantage point.
Here she lies on the cool sand of the aptly named (until the recent floods) Sand River.
YAWN! Visible in this image are the tactile hairs or whiskers used by cats for navigation and indicating mood. Whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect the slightest directional change in a breeze, essential to the success of these fascinating cats.
Camouflage at its best! In black and white she disappears in the leaves of her favourite climbing tree, the Marula.
The intense stare
She peers at us over her left leg, hiding those distinctive spots on her nose.
Stopping to look at the kudu alarming at her, she raises her tail to signal that she has no intention of hunting them.
Whose tail is this..?