For close to a month we had had no sign of the cub of the Makomsava female.
Some had started losing hope that the cub was still alive, until Tayla Brown pulled off an incredible spot a few mornings back, of the cub hidden away in a rocky outcrop where we thought the mother was no longer keeping it. This was phenomenal news to all of us and since then we have been catching brief glimpses of the cub in that same cluster of rocks, until it was found feeding on a kill together with its mother.
Andrea Sithole had found both mother and cub with an impala kill in the north-central parts of the reserve.
I had not seen the cub in well over a month so was excited to join Andrea.
It was wonderful to see this young cub now feeding on the meat.
We watched it bounding on top of its mother while she lay full-bellied, draped over a branch. We watched this display of agility and playfulness in the canopy of the tree for well over an hour. We left them and returned that afternoon to no sign of the cub anywhere to be seen. There were two hyenas at the base of the tree, while the mother was lying about 30 metres away from the kill in a different tree. Our minds started running through various scenarios as to what could have happened. We left the sighting optimistic that the cub was stashed away in a thicket nearby but were nevertheless anxious as we returned to camp.
First thing the next morning we set out and went back to the same place where our worries were laid to rest…
As we arrived we saw not one, not two, but three leopards up in the tree. The Flat Rock male had sniffed out the kill and appropriated it for himself. When we got there he was already finishing off what small bit remained.
Once he had had his fill, he growled a few times and then descended the tree.
The Makomsava female and the cub then rejoined in the fork and sniffed around where the kill was, but to no avail; nothing remained. They eventually came down once the hyenas had moved off and they disappeared into a thick drainage line where we could not follow.
Having the kill robbed by the Flat Rock male, negotiating the dangers of lurking hyenas… even just clambering around in the branches… all of this is simply part of the young cub’s learning…