Monday is fairly meaningless out in the bush, unless we need to know what meal is being served at the Staff Canteen.
Weeks blend into each other as we tune in to the cycles of nature. Circadian rhythms take over and we are up early when it’s cool, less active in the heat of the day – just like most of the wildlife – and we perk up again as the sun starts westering in the afternoon.
Somewhere out there we know such a thing as Monday exists however, and for those of you at the start of the official work week, we thought we’d provide these five stunning photos of the Nkoveni female leopard’s cub to give you a nice boost and some Monday motivation.
The pair have been seen quite a lot lately, and with a fair amount of stability in the male leopard population, we hope that the female might finally get a cub through to maturity (being her third attempt).
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.
Ranger Grant Rodewijk tells us what happened in each of his shots:
The Nkoveni female leopard has been hunting very successfully in the Tamboti thickets to the east of camp, taking mainly impala, the occasional bushbuck and even a baboon. On this occasion she had been robbed by hyenas which were still nearby, and they had scared the cub up into a Marula tree. Eventually when the female realised she wasn’t going to benefit by remaining in the area and the hyenas had moved off, she called the cub down. The cubs climbing skills still need to be honed…
Leopard cubs are usually well hidden by their mothers. Leading them to and from dens or to and from kills, the mothers will try as much as possible to remain within cover (thicket lines and in riverbeds) avoiding the open. Sometimes they are forced to cross a clearing, which is when one can get unparalleled photographic opportunities of a leopard cub in short grass, like this one.
When entering an open area, leopards will almost always stop and scan first. They don’t want to walk into danger, and they also don’t want other animals seeing them and causing them to sound an alarm. Sometimes it can’t be helped and they have to cross clearings, but the pause is almost inevitable. The mother pauses, while the cub’s inexperience causes it to keep trotting ahead. It will learn.
When leopards raise more than one cub, the cubs have each other to play with which allows for the opportunity to hone their skills of stalking and pouncing. When it is a single cub they only have their mother. We don’t know to what extent this affects their development, but single cubs that survive seem to do alright. Here the cub seems to be whispering something in its mother’s ear, but is in fact simply doing some light grooming.
A rough tongue makes for a perfect cleaning tool.
So there we have it, a mother leopard and cub to brighten up your day. Happy Monday to you all, have a great week!