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Ximungwe 5:3 Female

Ximungwe 5:3 Female

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Chris Taylor

Ranger

Chris was born and raised in the Kwa-Zulu/Natal Midlands where his family inspired his early passion for the natural world. Exploring Southern Africa as he grew up, this passion was allowed to develop and his curiosity to expand. After high school, Chris spent ...

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21 Comments

on Nature in its Rawest Form: the Death of a Leopard Cub

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

It is sad Chris but you explained it well and I do understand the reason behind it happening. Us humans are far too emotional. Life goes on and so does nature. I do hope the other cub will be found.

Darlene Knott
Digital Tracker

Thank you, Chris, for sharing this story of life in the wild. I know this is how nature perpetuates itself, but this brought tears to my eyes. I love leopards and so enjoy watching the cubs play and explore. Thinking of one being killed and knowing the fate of the others is very insecure now with the Tortoise Pan male establishing his territory is very hard to fathom. However, life goes on as it should in nature. Our human emotions must be experienced, then set aside. Life is different in the bush!

I was heartbroken as I read this. I have been following posts since I saw them. I very much appreciate your words which brought great understanding and perspective. Thank you!

Amanda Ritchie
Marketing Manager

Beautifully written Chris. Thank you for sharing and for your insightful conclusion.

Andrew & Daniel Bolnick
Senior Digital Ranger

Sad but informative. Reality of life can be brutal. Sometimes we humanize these animals and become attached in a small way. You reminded us of the daily fight for life and death. Thanks Chris

Molly Weedn
Explorer

We feel fortunate to have gotten the chance to see these cubs out with you and Milton just last month, Chris. Thanks for sharing this story with everyone. Best of luck to the other cub!

Vin Beni
Senior Digital Ranger

Great framework for a difficult experience for humans to comprehend unemotionally!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

It’s so sad that I hardly know what to say. I remember so well when Nkoveni ‘s 2 cubs were similarly killed by, I think, the Tortoise Pan male’s father. Chris, you wrote an excellent, thoughtful blog that explains it well – but it remains a raw story, hard each time it happens.

Matt Uys
Contributor

Hectic, do we know if it was the male or female cub?

Bob & Lucie Fjeldstad
Guest contributor

Wow Chris, a fascinating and compelling sighting that you cannot turn away from. Sad but just the leopards personification of the Cycle of Life. Probably the most unusual sighting those guests have ever had!

Wendy Macnicol
Senior Digital Ranger

Dear Chris. Thanks so much for this very sad incident which happens – and has been happening in the Bush – for many centuries. Do hope the other youngster will be found soon – alive and well. So hard to watch though all the same. Thank you for this well written article. Wendy M

Joan Schmiidt
Senior Digital Ranger

Chris, great blog, really tells the story of leopards, including why the male goes after any young leopard that is not his prodigy.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

Wow, that must have been difficult to witness. I know that a similar situation happened at Elephant Plains Lodge where the Xidulu Female was seen carrying her partially eaten cub that had been killed by another female.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

I’m mournful at the loss of a young cub or perhaps two, but I understand how the feline predator males work to establish their status.

I was on a drive with Guy and Shadrack last November when we came upon the little Ximungwe cubs, tucked away safely in their rock fortress, little fluff balls barely visible through binoculars. I sat there quietly in awe, mesmerized by the new additions to the leopard family. My memories of that sighting left an imprint, knowing new lives had an opportunity to grow and become part of the Londolozi leopard population. Learning my favorite male after a prolonged viewing, my first day, was the one who killed this young cub, saddened me but I understand. Perhaps now that he’s mated with Mashaba, and potentially could mate with the Ximungwe female if both of her cubs are lost, he will cease hiss killing spree. Time will tell.

Mark Von Wiegandt
Digital Ranger

Hi Chris, very sad to hear. And I am sorry to hear about the experience for your sake as well. And to think that this exact concern with the young male had been written about in the blog just this past week, makes me feel even closer to the experience myself. Ironically, I have become a daily reader of the blog for this very reason. To feel a little closer to the characters in and around londolozi. And so as I get to know them all a little better I can feel a little closer to the experiences that are written about. And for the longer term goal for when I am finally blessed enough to be able to make the trip, that I feel even more connected than just having been dropped off not knowing anything about the coming and goings at londolozi. But as you say, these aren’t necessarily the experiences we sign up for in one way or another but we are reminded in these times of just how fragile life is within the confines of the amazing African reserves that exist today, and that each life matters more than ever.

As far as the actions of the mother after the incident. Coincidentally, It is interesting, I have read about this very experience probably a half dozen times just over the last couple months (in combination with the many times over the years). Both in articles and also documented on video. As of late, the witnesses to the experience are rather shocked at this action. But then there is me, and I have yet to watch/read about a cub being taken this way and the mother not reacting like this. One of the most widely available documentations of this is the Nat Geo series “Savage Kingdom.” I believe it was season 1 we see one of the leopard cubs taken by the local lion pride. The mother acted the same as what you write about here. I am confident this is normal behavior. And we can only speculate the purpose. I am going to assume it is the Mother’s last way of protecting her cub from the outside world. That she is going to go through this process in order to inhibit any living being from acquiring an interest or taste into one of her cubs. And secondly, for sake of pride, she just isnt going to let anybody feed on her baby. It is her way of giving her cub a more honorable goodbye. Of course, they arent as intellectual as this, but I really think it is an assortment of these feelings that lead a leopard mother to act in this manor. Certainly, it isnt driven by hunger. These cats an all big cats are far more intune with their lives and wit nature and just the world around them than we give them credit for.

Mark

Sean De
Explorer

What an incredible blog, with some fantastic insights into leopard behavior. I have chills reading this and although am absolutely heartbroken, it bears testimony to the level of tenacity this female leopard has to have gotten this far in life and to allow us into her private world. Thank you for this blog. I’m hoping we get to see her and her surviving cub later this year.

Joanne Wadsworth Kelley
Digital Tracker

A raw story told very well. It is nature’s way, but sad to read much wise see in person…. regardless of understanding the why’s. Young Leopard cubs have such low life expectancy that we all celebrate a positive outcome. Nevertheless, I feel terribly saddened.

Chelsea Allard
Explorer

A sad reality, but such is nature. I suspect the mother ate the cub as a way to regain some of the energy she spent raising it, if that makes sense. I have seen rodents eat their young, but it’s usually right after birth. I can only assume in those cases the babies weren’t well enough to survive, or the mother did not have the energy or fitness to raise all of them, so she raised some and ate the others to improve her own position. Perhaps rodents and leopards aren’t that dissimilar in that regard. Regardless, I hope the other cub survived/survives, but wonder why the mother wouldn’t have moved her if the male was still hanging around in that area.

Vanessa Dean
Explorer

Thanks Chris, that must have been hard to see, it is nature at its most raw as you say but all the same difficult to play witness to.

Michael & Terri Klauber
Digital Tracker

Wow Chris, what a story. Incredibly sad for sure, and it must have been hard to face your guests… Amazing that Mashaba mated with him, but she is one smart female and she knows “how the game is played!”. Fingers crossed for the second cub!

Mj Bradley
Senior Digital Ranger

Nature is not always a Disney movie. We know it can be harsh and relentless, but seeing it happen in front of you must be very emotional. It is the brutal truth of nature and one we as humans find hardest to accept.. Thank you for sharing and I hope the Ximhungwe female has better luck raising her next litter. Tortise Pan is a handsome boy!

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