About the Author

Pete Thorpe

Field Guide

Right from his very first bush trip at the age of four, Pete was always enthralled by this environment. Having grown up in the Middle East, Pete’s home-away-from-home has always been a bungalow in the Greater Kruger National Park, where his family had ...

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23 Comments

on A Case in Leopard Habituation – The Nkoveni Female and Her Cub

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

Lovely blog Pete. Do you find that cubs have got different personalities and some might be more shy than others, or be more skittish?

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Hi Marinda,

Thanks! Yes, almost every pair of cubs that we have witnessed will have an individual that is more shy than the other. Sometimes their confidence will grow with age, but just like with domestic animals – there is always one that ventures that little bit further than the rest!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

The discipline of habituation has made famous the Leopards of Londolozi and makes Londolozi THE place to see leopards in all of Africa. We are so lucky! Thank you!

Andrew & Daniel Bolnick
Senior Digital Ranger

Thanks for a great read. Feeling blessed I was able to witness this amazing experience first hand. With M&M as our guide and tracker we literally sat for hours watching leopards and cubs play. Visiting Londolozi was a life changing event. This informative Blog keeps me right in the moment as if I never left. Thank you to all for your dedication to preservation. Hoping to be back soon

Carolyn Whitaker
Digital Ranger

We feel so fortunate to have viewed leopards at Londolozi. The Mashaba female strode so close beside our vehicle one could have reached down to touch her. Two and a half weeks in East Africa provided only a shadowy glimpse of a leopard blending into a bush. Thank you, Londolozi, for respecting these beautiful creatures to such a degree.

Wendy Macnicol
Senior Digital Ranger

This is a wonderful story, Pete, of the Nkoveni Mom and cub! Thanks to you Rangers at Londolozi and your patience
– your guests have fantastic viewings – and I get more and more beautiful Wild Life pics as Screensavers! We are ALL happy people! Wendy M

Dina Petridis
Senior Digital Ranger

it is amazing that on our first safari ‘s starting in 1979 , we could hardly see a leopard , while now , going to Botswana or SA we always see leopards , mating , youngsters … or whatever even in the Kalahari

Suzanne Gibson
Guest contributor

Great blog, Pete. I was lucky enough last October to spend time with the Nkoveni female and her daughter. We sat enraptured as they played close to us, using a fallen tree as a climbing frame. I guess the cubs take their cue from their mother, and if she is relaxed then the cubs will be the same. I seem to remember that Nkoveni’s mother (Mashaba) was always relaxed, and so was her mother, Vomba. It certainly shows the value of all the care and respect you have given them over the years, well done Londolozi!

Marc Grawunder
Explorer

Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Well written blog Pete. I do find it fascinating that some cubs acclimate easily to the big green vehicles whilst others remain skittish and elusive, never warming up to the safari scene.

Speaking of my own experiences, I began visiting Sabi Sand 19 years ago. Leopard sightings were rare in 2000, even in Singita. It was only when visiting Mombo Camp in Botswana that I had my first real sighting after leaving South Africa. After that 2008 yielded a couple of brief sightings in Phinda and Singita, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I really noticed a difference in leopard viewing. This past November I spent 8 days within the SabiSand Reserve and I was thrilled to watch leopards almost everyday in each lodge. It seemed the population had increased- or as you stated, the resident leopards had become more habituated to Landies and humans. At any rate, Londolozi is doing a great job to respect their lives and privacy, whilst allowing guests to view these magnificent animals. Thank you!

Suecol777
Explorer

On my phone – I wish I could post it here – is a short video taken by people during their last night in their house at Wolfkop, a place in the mountains about six kays outside Citrusdal and three kays up the mountain. A friend of mine went to say goodbye while I wandered around near the house taking bird photos. That night on their way out to visit friends the couple found two leopards lurking around their car, apparently a mom and her cub. The video found its way to my phone. One wonders where those leopards were while I was taking bird photos!

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Hi!

What an amazing story – purely because leopards in the Western Cape are so incredibly rare… Myself and ranger Alex Jordan were lucky enough to capture a cape leopard on camera trap outside Tulbag, but were nowhere near seeing one with eyes – unless of course the leopard was right there watching us the whole time!

Darlene Knott
Digital Tracker

Beautiful photos of my very favorite animal, the leopard! Just like people, they all have different personalities, don’t they? Thanks for sharing, Pete!

Lachlan Fetterplace
Digital Ranger

Very interesting stuff! Do you think single cubs might generally be more shy or less confident then pairs or no pattern that you have noticed?

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Hi Lachlan,

It really does differ from individual to individual. However, pairs of cubs will often move around and play with each other while their mother is off hunting, until they start nearing independence. They may also feed off each other for confidence in the presence of vehicles, but with one often more confident than the other. Single cubs do tend to be a bit more shy when alone, and will be more confident (if that is their nature) when the mother is around.

Lachlan Fetterplace
Digital Ranger

Thanks for the extra info Pete, much appreciated 🙂

Vin Beni
Senior Digital Ranger

This co-existence is the most difficult concept to convey to those who have never visited nor gone on any game drive. It is inconceivable to them that humans can get this close to the leopards. Photos and videos are viewed with amazement.

Suecol777
Explorer

Pete, I managed to download the video on an e-mail to Londolozi – I don’t know if you managed to see it. For a video taken with a cellphone the quality is quote amazing. If you will contact me, either with your WhatsApp no or an e-mail address I’ll try to see that you get it if you haven’t seen it already – regards!

Victoria Auchincloss
Senior Digital Ranger

It is absolutely awe inspiring to see these beautiful animals any time. Huge thanks to Londolozi and all the work so many out in to make this possible. Victoria

Joanne Wadsworth Kelley
Master Tracker

This was a very special treat since I love leopards so much. Images with a mother and her cubs are always endearing and even more so when they are playing together! I may be wrong, but isn’t Nkoveni one of the daughters from Mashaba? It’s wonderful to see the line continue, especially since Nkoveni lost 2 Cubs previously. Great blog and wonderful natural images. Thanks!

Pete Thorpe
Field Guide

Hi Joanne,

You are correct – the Nkoveni female is daughter to the Mashaba female. The other cub that the Mashaba female raised to independence is the Ximungwe female, born in 2015, who is currently raising two cubs of her own. Have a look at https://leopards.londolozi.com to get a better idea of the Londolozi leopard dynasties.

Al Kaiser
Senior Digital Ranger

Thanks Pete. I really enjoyed this article.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

I wish I could have a leopard encounter like the ones above!! All of mine have been fleeting!

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