The Nanga leopard cubs have been featured on the Blog a lot recently. Yesterday we put out some of Richard Laburn’s fantastic footage of them and their mother near the Manyelethi Riverbed. Today we thought we’d use them to disprove that age-old statement that ‘Cat’s always land on their feet’.
We obviously couldn’t go in Mythbuster-style with an experiment all set up, but a recent sighting of the cubs following their mother down to the Manyelethi provided us with all the evidence we needed.
When the female leads the cubs anywhere – and this is the case with most female leopards – she will walk relatively slowly, pausing every once-in-a-while to scan and listen for danger, while the cubs scamper around her, their little legs working much harder than their mother’s in order to cover the same distance. Pauses in the journey give the cubs ample time to engage in their games of stalk and pounce, and it was on just such a pause recently that the following sequence was captured.
The Nanga female climbed a fallen Knobthorn tree, and the cubs scuttled up the trunk behind her, crossing over into a Magic Gwarrie tree that was growing next to it. One of them decided to force it’s sibling out of the tree, and the poor little one that was getting bullied made several futile attempts to remain in the branches before it eventually lost its grip and fell earthwards.
Unfortunately I do not have a photograph of the actual landing as a Spikethorn bush was in the way, but I can attest to the fact that it was not a graceful landing on all fours but rather an undignified sprawl!
The cub was unfazed though, and shook itself off to clamber back up to exact revenge on it’s brother!
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell