The lady in the back row of my jeep thought she was asking a straightforward question “Adam, at what age does a leopard make it’s first kill ?” I needed a bit more clarity in the question before I put my neck on the line. I asked her if by ‘kill’ she meant something like a lizard, bird, squirrel, or something larger and more substantial? Her husband prompted me by suggesting that she was referring to a kill of substance…
“When will they kill their first impala?”
A great question and one which I answered with some hesitation. Over the last four years I have learnt time and time again that nothing out here happens by the book. I explained that there would obviously be exceptions, but that I reckoned that it must be sometime around it’s first birthday that a leopard may get lucky and bring down an impala. Secretly, I thought this was pretty young and the second I said a year I kind of wished I had said 14- 15 months. I backed my answer up by swallowing deep and replaying a story I had been told of the legendary Maxabeni Female catching an impala at 11 months of age.
She seemed satisfied with the answer and we carried on with the drive. I kid you not, but half an hour later, we saw the one Ximpalapala young female leopard moments after she had just killed a young impala. Adrenalin raced as we watched this young female leopard hoist the kill, only to descend again with it and run through the clearing.
Granted it was a young impala, but proportionality it was large. After all this leopard is small. I sat transfixed, gob-smacked over what I had just seen. The leopard disappeared from view and the excited guests in the car slowly settled down. It was at this moment that the lady in the back row coughed…
“Adam, how old was that leopard?”
“Just under 9 months old.” I replied.
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister
Wow!! What are the genders of the other 2 Ximpalapala cubs? Are all 3 still alive? And has anyone managed to capture a worthwhile photo of their mother?
Expert training proves its worth
Very interesting article…weren’t there two brothers who hung onto their Mum for some time bit ago?
Seems the girls are more apt to venture out and try sooner in the leopard society, being they are loners. And if the girls come into estrous sooner, the mums will kick them out….so as in the lion community, where the boys need to grow up sooner and be gone, in the leopard world, girls need to ‘hike up their shorts’ and do for themselves…?
I would say it as a coincidence! It’s really thrilling to see theory getting practical right in front within a short span!
Great pics Ad and well written story. Rich
Wonderful story! Those leopards are always keeping you on your toes, just when you think you have them figured out, they find a way to surprise you again!
Thank you for sharing
and can’t wait to get your e-book!
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