Every once in a while it is hugely satisfying to see the rewards of our work in action. The ‘work’ I refer to is hardly defined as work in most people’s books. It’s also the type of work we certainly never complain about! Im referring to the slow and gentle process of getting a leopard cub used to a car.
One may refer to it as a ‘habituation’ process whilst others refer to it as simply ‘relaxing’ the leopard to a game viewing vehicle. Whatever you want to call it, it is a slow process that requires us spending a progressively longer period of time with a leopard cub and then slowly but surely decreasing the distance from which we are parked from the animal. It is a strategy that we, at Londolozi, have been using with incredible success since the early 1970’s.
It requires a large amount of respect for the animal and a realization that what one does, and how one treats an animal in its early days, will have direct implications on how that animal is viewed for the remainder of it’s life. If we are too pushy with a cub and put too much pressure on it then it will be scared of us and will have bad connotations with the vehicle; too gentle and not enough time spent with it and the leopard will remain shy and secretive and will run away when it sees the ‘unusual’ shape and smell of an approaching vehicle.
There is a very fine balance that we try to get just right!
There are numerous success stories of this process at Londolozi. One currently unfolding is that of the adorable Dudley Riverbank Female’s latest cub. Due to the way that this animal was treated from a very young age, it has now relaxed completely around the vehicles and as a result we are reaping the rewards. Sensational views of a 4,5 month old leopard cub in the wild! It is a real treat and every sighting marks the highlight of a safari.
The ‘relaxing’ of a cub, however, is just one of the stages…the first is to initially find the animal. A very very difficult task! The earlier you find it the more chance you have of a successful and rapid ‘habituation’. This is where our incredible tracking team comes to the front. The trackers at Londolozi are some of the best, if not THE best, in Africa and they are a major cog in the works of a successful safari.
We invite you to come an experience the incredible talents of the Londolozi tracking team first hand, and be part of, and observe, the greatest known leopard gene lineage in Africa! Welcome to the famous Leopards of Londolozi.
Have a look at previous blog posts on this specific leopard cub to watch it’s growth and development
The Dudley Riverbank female was another successful cub of the 3:4 female that reached old age, eventually passing away at just over 17 years
Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister