To be away from Londolozi for eight months was difficult, to say the least, especially when you’re watching the daily sightings on the blog and social media. Put it this way, I now know what all our guests go through when you visit Londolozi, have a taste of the magic of the bush and then leave only wanting more.
So, when I arrived back to the lodge after lockdown and had the opportunity to go for a first-evening-back drive with my colleagues I didn’t need to be invited twice.
Driving along the beautiful open crests in the northern section of Londolozi, admiring how healthy everything looked, I was absolutely content with just being back in the place that I love. The last thing I expected was witnessing the sighting of a lifetime.
Whilst approaching a waterhole surrounded by beautiful rocky outcrops, the sun dropping below the Drakensberg mountains in the background, we spotted two leopards only about 25 metres away from each other. We quickly identified these two female leopards as the Nkuwa and Finfoot females; sisters.
As we settled in to watch in to watch we could feel the tension building, as the Nkuwa female began stalking the Finfoot female who was drinking at the water’s edge.
Within seconds the Nkuwa female was inches away from her slightly smaller sister. Watching the unbelievable stealth of this leopard was incredible; even her sister with her almost supernatural hearing didn’t realise she was there until she had made the final pounce. As illustrated in the attached video the two of them broke out in extreme attack mode on the water’s edge, mud flying, the sounds and the setting around us creating a few minutes of extreme intensity and aggression. Both leopards being fully covered in mud only enhanced the dramatic scene which was unfolding in front of us.
You may be wondering why two female leopards, especially sisters may get into such an intense fight? Female leopards are solitary animals and will actively defend their territories from other leopards, especially other females. These two leopards have recently become independent and are starting to establish their own territories. The aggressive behaviour would most likely be because of the encroachment of the Finfoot female into her sister’s territory.
In the end, the two of them lay 50 metres apart panting deeply. The sun had now set and a full moon began to rise behind them. After about 30 minutes the two of them went in their own directions.
What a way to arrive back to the place I had missed most…