After many apparently unsuccessful mating attempts with the Maxabene 3:2, Camp Pan and 5:5 males, the Tamboti female finally gave birth to a litter of two in late February or early March of this year. Initially stashing the cubs in a large termite mound under a dead leadwood tree off Rooystens Rd, it wasn’t long before she moved the cubs slightly further south to the Inyathini Drainage, where she is still denning.
Rangers Tom and Kate Imrie were the first to discover the new litter, following the mother to the first densite from an impala kill that she had. From the soft mewing sounds emanating from within the thicket covering the mound, head tracker Richard Siwela concluded that there were definitely at least two cubs being secreted there.
It was Kate herself who got the first glimpse of the cubs a couple of weeks later, again following the female one morning to where she was keeping the cubs in a rocky section of the Inyathini Donga.
The current densite, a large termite mound with a large, grass-covered hole, is as perfect as they come; off the regular paths patrolled by other predators, alongside a well-shaded section of riverbed where the cubs will be kept cool during the heat of the day.
We believe she has started taking the cubs to kills as they are roughly 10 weeks old by now, and have been seen at least once on a return journey to the den-site.
I enjoyed my first real sighting of the cubs a few days ago when while tracking the Camp Pan male we came across tiny leopard tracks in the same area. Tracker Mike Sithole, while following the spoor, came round a corner to suddenly find himself confronted by a flattened, hissing female leopard, with two little bundles of fur retreating into the bushes behind her. Immediately backing away, Mike returned to the vehicle, and within a few minutes we had re-found the mother and the surprisingly relaxed cubs slowly walking along the road.
We spent an amazing evening with them, leaving with the failing light, and subsequent sightings have produced similarly amazing views.
Enjoy these first real pictures and footage of the cubs.
Filmed by James Tyrrell and Jack Wilson (Londolozi Guest)
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell