We discussed the survival chances of the two offspring she had left behind, and are happy to report the young female is still being seen occasionally, although of the young male there has been no sign for many months.
What we didn’t expect in the aftermath of her death, was that a totally different progeny of hers would begin to move into the territory she left behind.
The Piccadilly female is a name relatively unknown on the Londolozi blog, as she has spent the majority of her 4 years in Mala Mala, where she was born (in December 2013). Over the last few months however, we have had more and more frequent sightings of her on the southern bank of the Sand River, so it may be that she is looking to expand her territory in this direction.
Reports are that she has birthed a litter of cubs somewhere around a large boulder cluster a kilometre or so north of the Sand River. Coincidentally, her sister the Sibuye female (from the same litter) has apparently also given birth, probably within a week of the Piccadilly female.
When female leopards give birth, or are about to, their territorial behaviour often escalates; more vocalisations, more scent-marking, anything to let neighbours and rivals know that the area is spoken for. We have observed female leopards straying slightly further than their normal territorial boundaries in order to do this, and it is generally assumed that this is to create as safe and wide a buffer as possible to maximise their cubs’ safety. It is likely that this is why we have started seeing the Piccadilly female, and when one considers that the Nkoveni female has been following the slightly westward shift of her mother the Mashaba female, that small north-eastern corner (see pink area in map above) is relatively unoccupied.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
Since the area she is reportedly denning cubs has no lack of potential densites, and carrying a new litter across the Sand River would seem needlessly foolhardy, it is highly unlikely we will be seeing the cubs anytime soon, assuming they are still alive. Yet it is comforting to know that over 9 months after the Xidulu female’s demise, there is suddenly a glimmer of hope that her progeny may yet take control of the area she left behind.