Watching a leopard grow from weeks of age to independence is truly special.
I suppose it could be compared with watching your child grow, albeit with no actual contact or parenting…
Experiencing heart-wrenching moments such as a hyena sniffing about the den or the first time the cub is introduced to meat are just some of the highs and lows to which we may be exposed. In the case of the Ximungwe female, she had her first litter (two cubs) in mid-October 2018. I remember watching in horror as the Inyathini male arrived out of nowhere at the site where the cubs were being kept. The cubs dashed for cover as the male came in sniffing about where the cubs had been playing while the mother sat aside, acting submissively. Luckily he moved on as quickly as he arrived, no leopards injured.
A single cub of the Ximungwe Female's second litter. Initially rather skittish but is very relaxed now. Birth mark in his left eye.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
It was about five months later that the Tortoise Pan male tragically but instinctively killed one of the Ximungwe female’s two cubs one morning in a case of infanticide. As sad as this was to witness, we were all thrilled to watch the remaining cub escape the danger and make it to today, nearing independence. Now bigger than his mother, he is almost definitely going to leave her watch soon, growing into a healthy young male leopard. This is where the fun begins…
Now that the young male is confident to wander around alone, sometimes being left for two to three days at at time, he is really starting to explore the world around him. Every tree, termite mound, shrub, bird – anything that moves close by becomes a target of interest for him. This is typical of leopards his age. It is a glorious time to be watching him develop!
At this stage the youngster is bigger than his mother, but has all the attributes of a cub, still curious as ever and just wanting to play. We recently witnessed him tackle and tumble with a small bush repeatedly about five times in a row!
Days before he was seen climbing into a very small dead tree and attempting to lie on its only horizontal branch. We watched in hysterics as the branch snapped and both him and the piece of wood fell to the ground. Hardly anything to be concerned about, other than a hilarious moment of youthful behaviour gone wrong.
We look forward to watching the antics of the Ximungwe young male over the coming months as he becomes more independent and explores the world further. Just a few days ago he was seen stalking an adult male waterbuck (way out of his prey range) along the banks of the Sand River. What else is he going to get up to…?
Wonderful creature with great temperament he surely is a character
thank you, some unbelievable photo’s. Looking forward to see his development, how long before he goes out on his own, gets a name and any ideas on which territory he will occupy
Pete, I loved all the photos🤗
Wonderful and also amusing article – superb photos as well!
Incredibly entertaining antics!
what a brilliant young cub to watch him grow up and face the world, wonderful. thank you
What wonderful animals and particularly the young ones who remind me of the sorts of high kinks my 2 boys got up to, including climbing and falling out of trees. Can’t wait for the next installment. thank you! Victoria
It is so hilarious to watch him ‘grow up’! Love it! Thanks for sharing!
I have really loved watching his antics and growth as well… him stocking the bush the other day was hilarious!
Young leopards are just so much fun to watch…..young males especially! The curiosity combined with the developing physical and psychological skills make for a lot of entertaining antics and behaviors……and to be able to spend time with one cat consistently is even more special!
Thanks for the update on this almost independent leopard. I saw him and his sister as little fluff balls, playing in their rocky den whilst mum was off hunting. Even back then in late November 2018, he was the inquisitive one. Let’s just hope he realizes his limitations and doesn’t go after a Buffalo bull…..!
Great story Pete! We loved the video of the young male and the tree – a classic!
Pete, you are so lucky to be able to watch these cubs as they develop and move into independence. I was fortunate enough to see him last September with his mother. One of my favourite photos (which I put in my blog a few months ago) was of him standing up in a tree next to his mother’s kill. It’s not a good photo technically, but he looks for all the world as if he is posing with it (and yes, I know I’m being anthropomorphic, but I smile every time I see it!)
What a beautiful account the maturation of the young Ximungwe male. I clicked the link and read the story of the death of his brother by the Tortoise Pan male. Very raw indeed! All the best to this guy as he approaches full independence. I know you’ll keep us updated!
Best wishes to this young animal reaching the most beautiful age for a leopard. I wish he could stay like that for ever…
I love these photos and this playful young leopard
Nice blog Pete. It certainly must be a relief for you all to witness the cubs growing from babies to full grown adults and heading off on their own. It is always sad when the cubs are killed by a male leopard, but guess such is life in the bush. Thanks for sharing with us. Be well and stay safe to everyone at Londolozi.
Hey Pete! .. I can so relate and chuckle at your story for today! Maybe you might be able to relate, but,.. I adopted a 2 year old kitty in February, (that I swear nearly looked like a baby leopard upon its Intake picture). The poor thing had been abandoned, and then adopted and surrendered twice prior to me adopting it! The kitty had literally lived in a cage for 10 months at a shelter.
From the moment the kitty was delivered to me, she was right at home. The funny thing was, like you mentioned about the Leopard’s play antics and developing instincts for its future independence, .. my new kitty has had to learn all kinds things about the modern civilized world! (to include domesticated discipline, which she has not taken to on a full scale. Especially the word “NO!”) It has been a HOOT watching the kitty be in wonder about the sound of a heater furnace and what it does. More so, it was hysterical to watch her when she learned about a dishwasher! All sloshing and banging noises just left her so perplexed! She is just SO CURIOUS! What makes me wonder most though about this kitty, who turned 3 yrs old on April 6th, is, I ted to seriously wonder if she was somehow bred beyond what is known, because the kitty ca LITERALLY do ZERO to 60 in a heart beat just like a Cheetah! She’s also got abnormally large paws and “unique markings” for a domesticated cat! It also leaves me perplexed that she won’t purr or growl, yet she will do a quiet “cub like” Hiss if she doesn’t want to picked up or held. She even SWATS like a growing cub! Likewise, the kitty’s got the “hunting and climbing skills” of a growing Leopard cub!
All said, it is so enjoyable, engaging and edifying to read your blogs upon your ventures. It leaves my mind all inclusive to the ways of felines and their worldly origins.
It is lovely to watch his antics on the Instagram stories. He is like a playful, inquisitive kitten.
Looking forward to seeing what he gets up to in the future!
Hi Pete. Even watching the bit we see of this young male Leopard on pictures and videos is very funny to watch. To sit and watch him in real life must be SO VERY entertaining and hilarious! Thank you for this – one of my favourite ways of enjoying myself! Wendy M
I really love watching this leopard’s antics, he is very entertaining. I hope we get to see a lot more 🙂 some really great photos on this blog
Great photos Peter, loved the footage of this cub crashing through the trees and trying to hunt birds 😂💕
To be able to watch the growth, trials and tribulations of such an amazing animal is truly such a gift. I love that you are able to share it with all of us… Thank you