We are sad to announce our belief that one of the Nanga female’s young cubs is dead. The female has been seen a couple of times in the last few days, but only one cub has been seen with her, and in an area where cub mortality is high, and entire litters often don’t make it, we can probably assume that the second cub has been killed.
We are not sure exactly how or when, but what we do know is that 2 weeks ago there was an interaction between the Tsalala pride and the Nanga female and youngster(s). This sighting was described by Mike Sutherland in his article A Clash of Lions and Leopards. On that morning, only one of the cubs was seen by Mike and tracker Life Sibuyi, so it is always possible that it was that particular incident that claimed the life of the second cub.
So much happens during the hours of darkness that more often than not, a cub will simply disappear, and after a number of sightings of of the mother and a remaining cub, or no cubs at all, we come to accept its loss and move on. We don’t always know what happened in this wilderness of ever-present danger, but it is a natural part of the order of things.
The second cub is still healthy and growing fast, and his mother has been keeping moving him between the Manyelethi River and the Southern Cross Koppies. In fact, only yesterday morning, some of our staff climbed one of the koppies for sunrise coffee, and were surprised and delighted to see a fluffy, spotted head peering at them from over a boulder. The cub had been left by the mother when she went hunting, so after a brief yet wonderful view with binoculars, as the suns rays crept over the eastern horizon, the staff left the cub in peace to wait for the return of the adult female.
Life goes on for the Nanga female, her remaining cub, and indeed all the Leopards of Londolozi. Despite this sad bit of news, some happy stories seem to be rearing their heads. The Mashaba female has been seen once again mating with the Marthly Male, so there is a possibility of seeing new cubs in a few months time. We have been debating how soon she will be cutting ties with her current cub, and given the evidence, it seems that the process is well advanced. The Mashaba young female has been seen a couple of times with hoisted kills of her own, and the fact that her mother was forced into independence early (around 14 months) by her mother the Vomba female, could suggest that she is having the same done to her.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell