There had been a few very brief sightings of the Piccadilly Female and her cub. She has been denning in the rocky outcrops in the north-eastern part of Londolozi.
I have always dreamed of seeing a female leopard and her cub in a setting like this. If you have been to Londolozi you will know what rocky outcrops I am talking about. If you don’t, the photographs to follow will give you a very clear understanding as to why I have been longing to see a leopard there.
Rsnger Greg Pingo had found her with her cub a few mornings ago and my eyes lit up with excitement. Myself and James Tyrrell went to go have a look later that morning to see if they were both still there.
When we arrived at the outcrop where she had been seen earlier that morning, we initially had no sign of her until we drove around onto the southern side and she suddenly appeared from behind a beautiful rock fig tree. She stopped and was scanning the surroundings.
At first there was no sign of her cub, but there were so many crevices for it to hide in. After sitting quietly and waiting for a few minutes, we saw what we had come there for. The cub crept out of a crevice from behind the female and lay down in between the safety of its mother’s legs, staring down at our vehicle.
It was not long before the adult female left of the rocky ledge with the cub following not far behind. After manoeuvring herself around the rocky area she lay resting up in some long grass at the base, where we could hardly see her.
We went back that afternoon to go to try our luck and see if she was still there. We had been informed by David Dampier (Londolozi Head of Finance, who had arrived at the outcrops just ahead of us) that she WAS there and we arrived to this incredible scene of her on top of a boulder.
This female is most often encountered near the Sand River to the east of the Londolozi camps.
Just like earlier that day, there was no initial sign of the cub with the mother but it had been seen moving around the base of the boulder. We waited for roughly 15 minutes until the cub nervously climbed up the side of the boulder with its eye locked in our direction.
We had a few brief glimpses of the young leopard moving around the boulder. It finally got the confidence to nestle up to the comfort and safety of its mother atop the boulder. We realised the cub was not used to the clicking of the shutters on our cameras.
It took a good 30 minutes of sitting in silence with very little movement from a distance until the cub started relaxing. We had now sat in silence without taking any photographs to avoid the sounds of the clicking of the camera shutters scaring it. The cub gained more confidence and became very relaxed with our presence.
The ears of the mother perked up with a jolt and she began staring off to the west. Something had caught her attention in the nearby thicket. Moments after this was taken she had slunk down off the boulder and out of sight in the attempt to catch and impala which hadn’t seen her.
This was the first time I had seen the Piccadilly female and her cub. Waiting patiently in the wild is something I could not put more emphasis on. This sighting is a perfect example of what having some patience can do. Sitting quietly and waiting allowed us to have a phenomenal sighting of the cub. Watching it gain confidence in our presence was a small way of us starting the habituation process. Good things come to those who wait.