We’ve written quite a bit recently about how the Nhlanguleni female’s cubs are the first intact litter in seven years to make it to independence on Londolozi. And while this is more than enough reason for us to be thrilled, and toast this success story with a beer, the adult female herself is – I’m sure – completely unaware of her achievement, and is continuing with her natural processes.
One of these is falling back into an oestrus cycle – or at least the leopard version of one – and she was recently found mating with the Flat Rock male in the Sand River:
Ranger Guy Brunskill reports:
“It was late afternoon, and we had tracked the leopards a long way from where they had been seen in the morning. After following for about two hours as the tracks criss-crossed the Sand River, we eventually heard bushbuck alarming towards the southern river bank; a sure sign that there was a predator close by.
Tracker Shadrack Mkhabela was on foot and I was scouting ahead in the Land Rover. Shadrack had a fleeting glimpse of one of the leopards through the thickets, so radioed me to try and get in with the Land Rover. After again switching off the vehicle and hearing them mating, we pinpointed their position and eventually accessed a spot where we could get a lovely view of the pair on the sand in a dry channel. They mated about four or five times right in front of us.”
There is no guarantee that this mating bout will result in cubs. Ironically, it was the Flat Rock male who killed the Nhlanguleni female’s first litter a couple of years ago, when he was new to the area. Now that he is the dominant male along the Sand River and beyond, he is one of the first males to mate with the local females when they come into oestrus, and it is likely that a number of young leopards in the area are bearers of his genes…