The name Maliliwane (previously Campbell Koppies young female) is not one that has featured too regularly on the Londolozi blog in years past. One of our least known leopards who resides in an area not traversed all that often, it is fair to say that sightings of her have been few and far between. That’s not to say others haven’t seen her, as a substantial portion of her territory lies (lay?) outside of our traversing area.
Now, sadly, it seems that she may be gone. The last sighting of her was over a month ago and she was apparently in very poor condition. Reports were that she was raising a new litter at the time which makes her loss doubly sad.
I think it’s pretty hard for us to conceive the physical demands placed on a leopard’s body whilst raising young. Especially a litter of three, which the Maliliwane female reportedly had. The cubs were estimated to be roughly two months old, and the loss of their mother means that unfortunately they would suffer the same fate. There is no two month old leopard cub on earth that would be able to raise itself to maturity.
The female, as well as having to hunt to provide sustenance for herself, would also have been producing milk for her cubs, as they are only weaned at about three to four months old. Until that time, the energy drain she must experience must be astronomical. If she is unable to catch anything successfully (a leopard can easily go a week between meals) while she is nursing, her condition is likely to deteriorate that much more rapidly, and a leopard with quickly waning energy reserves becomes less and less able to adequately protect herself. So the early months of a litter’s existence are not only an incredibly vulnerable time for them, but a vulnerable time for their mother as well.
Exactly what the fate of the Maliliwane female and her litter was, we will probably never know. Maybe lions got her. Maybe a hyena surprised her while she was on the ground, and in desperation to defend her kill, she took it on, to her downfall. I have seen nursing females after a number of consecutive days with no food, and can attest to the fact that they are little more than skin and bones. It is general policy at Londolozi not to spend time with such a female, to avoid our presence impacting any hunting opportunities she may have.
The Maliliwane female has generally popped up on our radar when she has had a cub or a litter. Often we will have had no inkling of the litter’s existence as we won’t have seen the female for a couple of months. In mid-2011 she was found with a cub on an impala kill. It was the first time the cubs had ever been seen on our property, and it was already probably close to nine months old. Sadly that cub didn’t survive.
A year-and-a-half later the female was again discovered with a cub, documented in a post from 2013. This cubs was reported to have been killed by hyenas a month or two after the sighting.
In 2014 the female finally had some success, and raised a female cub to independence. This young leopard is encountered every now and again in the same territory her mother once held, and now that the Maliliwane female looks to have disappeared for good, it is quite possible the young female will look to move into the area.
As recently as early August last year the Maliliwane female was denning cubs in the drainage line that gave her her name. At least three different dens were discovered within a short space of time (see map) as the female kept moving her cubs between prominent termite mounds, but only one or two brief sightings of the youngsters were obtained when they were still very small.
No further sign was had of that litter, and now, sadly, with what looks like only one individual raised successfully to independence out of at least 5 litters, the Maliliwane female will not get another chance.
In order to contribute to the continuation of her species, she needed only to replicate herself genetically, and in that at least, she was successful. We look forward to reporting that her surviving offspring is establishing herself in the bush willow thickets through which her mother once roamed.
A young female who was not often seen during her time on Londolozi, owing to her inhabiting a not-often traversed section of the property.
Do you know if this females is known as Ostrich Koppies females elsewhere? If so, I believe she also raised a male cub from 2014 who is seen there. Last reported seen Feb 26. I have tried to follow the Ostrich Koppies female since I first saw her at about 9 months old. I believe her mother was Campbell Koppies female. If she did indeed finally raise two cubs that would be wonderful!
That’s such a sad little story, James. Let’s hope this youngster will survive and be able to have litters as well.
It is a hard life in the Bush, isn’t it? Wendy
So sad to hear of a loss of one of our leopards.. Recently in the more northern part of SS, the Kwatile Leopard was seen in extremely poor condition on the top of a termite mound.. It is thought she is now gone and of course without her the two young cubs would not survive. I hope Maliliwane’s daughter lives a long and fruitful life.
No she’s Kwatile in the north
MJ that is correct from Blair; the Maliliwane female is known as Kwatile in the northern parts of the Sabi Sand.
Thanks for letting me know.
Leslie– Ostrich Koppies (b 2004) is Maliliwane’s(b 2007) older sister. They share a territorial boundary on the MM side (to the east). When Campbell Koppies/Ntima (mom) was alive all 3 shared territorial boundaries and had some interesting interactions— I am worried about OK female as she has not been seen since the end of 2015 by MM (her independent son is still around, sort of like what happened with Vomba). It would be a sad day if both daughters of Campbell Koppies are gone.
Things appeared to be going well for her in the last year at least as far as what had been posted …I heard (second hand) a snake bite was most likely cause of her sudden and rather shocking demise
Maliliwane or Kwatile (or Mlowathi female) made me laugh more than any other leopard and now her probable death is making me rather sad. Here is a link to some video “Golden Kwatile” of her rolling in buffalo dung (with obvious delight). The ranger narrating seems to be a former Londolozi ranger who notes her pale golden coat and a resemblance to Vomba (her aunt):
Of course Mashaba and Tutlwa are her cousins… Although there are few posts/photos of Maliliwane/Kwatile on the Londo site, one of the best was by Rich Laburn and a guest in August 2011. It featured Maliliwane/Kwatile with her first cub, a male. It’s a little confusing because at that time she was known as Campbell Koppies Young Female. The cub was sired by Emswagen (according to MM or Arathusa or both, I have to go thru my downloads for the references). She nearly got him to independence. If he had lived, he would have been half brother of Anderson male. Anyway the photos are outstanding—
The Queen of the Borders with many aliases is no more!
Brian, thank you for that info. I knew she hadn’t been seen for a while. She was a beauty. I’ll be hoping that her cub continues to do OK.