I will never forget the first time I had the privilege of watching Leopards mating here on Londolozi. It was a first for me in my Guiding career and in my life. It was June 2013, where the Marthly Male and the Tutlwa female engaged in their fascinating business of mating. A bout that lasts several days, whereby the male and female remain together and mate on many occasions each hour, it is recorded that leopards can mate up to 100 times per day. So whilst spending time with these two Leopards on this particular day, we witnessed the rare act in broad daylight. The most amazing thing about this story though, is the fact that from this exact mating bout, the Tutlwa female fell pregnant and is now raising a litter she conceived on that day many months ago.
This male moved in from the north of the reserve in 2010, and was instantly recognisable by his unique tuft of fur at the back of his neck.
An enigmatic female not often encountered, this leopard lives to the north of the Sand River.
For interest sakes and some background information on the Tutlwa female, here is some further information:
Date of Birth: March 2006
Mother: Vomba 3:2 female
The Vomba female was a leopard with an instantly recognisable rich golden coat. She spent much of her life around the Londolozi Camps.
Father: Camp Pan 4:3 Male
The King of Londolozi in his day; an enormous male whose offspring still inhabit the reserve.
August 2010 – 1 cub, deceased
May/June 2011 – 2 cubs, 1 male, 1 female, both currently independent
January 2013 – 2 cubs, both lost in the floods of 2013 in the Manyelethi
September 2013 – 2 cubs, 1 male, 1 female, currently still dependent.
So this is some amazing news for us as a Ranging and Tracking team as well as for future and current guests. There has been much discussion as to whether these cubs would be relaxed around vehicles or not, as both of her previous successfully raised cubs are very nervous of vehicles. These 2 in mention, the May/June 2011 litter were raised in the Sand River in front of the camps and subsequently spent little to no time with vehicles at all growing up, and only brief glimpses of these cubs were experienced. The current litter being raised by this female had the same initial routine. Born somewhere in the river, spent 3 months without being seen, a few quick glimpses and relatively nervous Leopards as a result. The stats have not looked great for us, until yesterday. Ranger Talley Smith and tracker Freddy Ngobeni spent some time in the north in search of this little family, and got lucky in finding them on an Impala kill, in the clearing directly in front of Varty Camp. This meant there were these 2 little cubs, in an open clearing, feeding under a small thicket. A perfect opportunity to see how these cubs behave around vehicles.
The results were amazing, and we were able to put 5 vehicles through the sighting yesterday, and each vehicle managed a view of the cubs. Currently they are not the most photogenic cubs around, as they are still nervous, but amazing to see how much more relaxed they have become. A slow process of habituation is underway, but the more time we spend with them the better. We look forward to some great sighting in the future.
Below are photographs of each cub and their spot patterns as we have seen so far.
Filed under Leopards Photography Wildlife
I’m not at all surprised that Talley and Freddy found them. An incredible team!
Wonderful news. More cats to wonder over in September!
We were at Londolozi the end of August beginning of September last year (2013) and witnessed a male and female mating. I’m not sure exactly which leopards these were, although I’m sure you do. I assume that female had cubs this summer, have they been seen?
Can you please explain the principals of spot-patterning? Which spots are you counting? Thanks.
Can’t wait to get back again…
Keep close tabs on these guys….we will be there in just two more months.
Thank you Mike I have a passion for Leopards and all wildlife of course. Hopefully by the time we arrive on 24th May the cubs will be more familiar with the vehicles. I look forward to reading your blogs every day and think its great how you keep us all informed. Look forward to meeting you all soon. Vivien
Awwww, they are so beautiful, and they have such a good mother. It’s so sad that she lost both of her cubs in the flood in January 2013. It’s nice to see how well these two cubs are doing and hopefully will continue to thrive. Thanks for the great photos and update Mike!
Thank you so very much.. It is always a privilege to see the newest generation..
They are beautiful and wish for them a long and healthy life..
Thanks for sharing your little corner of paradise!
Fantastic report and fantastic pics! such sweet cubs – I look forward to more reports of their adventures! Thanks so much!
Didn’t the Tutlwa Female have 3 cubs in the December 2012 litter? By the way, can you tell me what happened to the daughter of the nottens female born in June 2006? There is a female called Calabash/ White Dam female territorial just south of Londolozi. She has a distinctive stained iris. Her origins are unknown to the reserve she is territorial on but they estimate that she is born around 2006-7, making her a possible match for the 2006 daughter of the late nottens female who is I believe not territorial at the moment on Londolozi. We are all eagerly awaiting the blog that you had promised on the Nottens female.
“Got lucky”? I’m not sure Freddy depends much on luck… Nice post though: so great to see new Londolozi Leopards!
Love the difference in eye color between them!