The beautiful Mashaba female is one of the more frequently seen female leopards at Londolozi. A descendant of an almost royal lineage, with a very relaxed temperament, she often allows incredible sightings.
A closely followed line of leopards preceded the Mashaba female, starting two generations back. The Sunset Bend female was a large, stately leopard with a golden coat that is still spoken about to this day. This famed coat was passed on to the Vomba female and then again to her daughter, the Mashaba female. The golden coat was not the only thing that was passed on. I was not lucky enough to see the Sunsetbend female, but from photographs of her, it is possible to see that one of her defining characteristics, a mottled nose, was inherited by Mashaba. It has translated into two very noticeable spots on her nose.
One doesn’t have to go far to find the spotted nose belonging to this amazing female. Her territory surrounds and includes Londolozi’s camps. She is predominantly found just to the west of camp on the southern bank of the Sand River. This territory belonged to her late mother, the Vomba female, and even though her territory is close to camp, it can still be tough at times to find this secretive yet relaxed female. With her love of dense bush the going can be tough (for us finding her that is!) The make-up of her territory is ideal leopard habitat – dense bush intersected with many deep drainage lines and littered with impala rich clearings. These conditions have allowed this female the opportunity to reproduce.
Her first litter, which was in August 2012, was kept in the Sand River and the young leopards were seen once in the very early stages of their lives. The position of her den made it impossible to access with a vehicle. Only after a few months was a cub seen regularly. One or possibly two were believed to be lost in the time that they were not being seen. One was a young energetic female who is now being seen regularly. The Mashaba young female is the only cub that has made it to independence despite other litters in 2014. We are hoping for another litter of cubs from the Mashaba female in the very near future!
The Mashaba female not only has an important lineage on her mother’s side but also on the other side. She was fathered by Camp Pan, a dominant male with a long standing reign over central Londolozi. The union of this male and the Vomba female resulted in the Mashaba female. She was born in September 2008 and is just over six years old. If she lives for as long as her grandmother she still has ten healthy years ahead. We hope to see this female long into the future and look forward to the cubs she will hopefully bring to Londolozi.
Written by: Simon Smit, Londolozi Field Guide
Photographed by: Simon Smit and James Hobson