Leopards are essentially the animals upon which Londolozi was founded. Our history with them began way back in 1979, and now almost 40 years later it continues to thrive. The leopard viewing in this part of the world is simply unparalleled, yet each sighting is different, and these beautiful cats continue to fascinate me.
Here are just some of my favourite pictures from the last few weeks:
One of the Nhlanguleni female’s cubs comes out from her hiding place up in this Jackalberry tree in the late afternoon, and pauses just long enough for a shot to be captured. The two cubs had been left in this area earlier in the day as their mother went off to hunt.
The young cub then descends the tree, responding to her mother’s calls in a nearby thicket. With the Nhlanguleni female not having kept this litter in the river as much as her first one, these cubs have grown up far more relaxed in the presence of the Land Rovers.
The Nanga female stumbled across the remains of a kill that had been left by the Ingrid dam female. Unfortunately for her, the kill was hanging from some rather flimsy looking branches and she was unable to steal the carcass.
The Ingrid Dam female uses the height of this Jackalberry tree to scan for any potential prey and luckily for us she chose the perfect spot for us to capture a picture. Her territory was previously occupied by the skittish Ximpalapala female, but since that female disappeared in 2016, the Ingrid Dam female -who is far more relaxed – has taken over the area and provided some superb viewing.
She is occasionally seen around the far north west corner of Londolozi, and is generally quite relaxed around vehicles.
The Ingrid Dam female jumps the gap between two branches on her way down from the tree. Immediately after this she moved down the banks of the Manyalethi river towards a large herd of impala. One of the ewes soon spotted her despite her efforts to remain concealed, and she was forced to abandon the hunt.
The Anderson male watches the young Thamba male in the dry river below with surprisingly little reaction. Could it be that he believes this young male is his cub? Whatever the case or the relationship between these two, it is fantastic to see just how much the Anderson male’s eye has healed.
The Nkoveni female’s young cub looking rather sheepish after she drops an impala carcass to the ground minutes after her mother had placed the kill in the branches above. Young cubs are not yet adept at maneouvering kills around trees, and a fair number of carcasses are lost to hyenas waiting below.
The Ndzanzeni young male scans the clearing from this fallen log at a small pan for any prey that may be coming down for a drink. He was on the move only a moment later as the clearing was empty.
The Schotia female glances up at one of her cubs in a Marula tree. The cub was climbing up after a nap to feed on an impala carcass. Leopards will almost never feed on a carcass at the same time; when the mother feeds the cubs wait, and when she is finished one of her offspring will take her place at the kill.
Meanwhile the second cub of the Schotia female waits patiently, on this fallen Marula tree, for her turn to go up and feed. I wonder how the rotation is established?
The Ingrid Dam young female settles down in this Leadwood tree after being chased by a couple of hyenas. She then spots some Nyalas in amongst some Guarri bushes, but the big male nyalas were too big for her to consider and she remained in the tree. Read a recent blog about how she was chased up into a Leadwood tree by a pack of wild dogs by clicking here.
The Mashaba female approached our vehicle and settled down in the sand of the Maxabene drainage line. Just the perfect place at the perfect time of the afternoon.
The Tamboti young female walked past only metres from our vehicle, much to everyone’s delight. She has been coping extremely well since the passing of her mother and seems to be growing in confidence each time we are lucky enough to see her.
‘Since 1979 Londolozi has had a love affair with leopards. Over the last four decades, this dynasty has been chronicled by the many guides and trackers, past and present, who have worked at Londolozi.’ : visit The Leopards of Londolozi.