After the year that all of us have just gone through, the first few months of 2020 probably seem like lightyears away – at least that’s how it feels for me.
Many of my favourite wildlife encounters from early last year were consigned to the back of my mind while other, more pressing issues were at hand. Fortunately, my camera’s memory card didn’t forget anything and as I was scrolling through my photographs from the beginning of last year I stumbled upon a few forgotten sightings.
One in particular brought back fond memories; the day we found the Ximungwe female and the Ximungwe young male ten minutes after leaving camp. Since mother and son have separated with the Ximungwe young male now enjoying life as a newly independent young leopard, I decided to share one of the last sightings I had of the two of them together…
On this particular morning we turned onto a road that we knew the Ximungwe female had been on the previous day. I had barely finished explaining the aforementioned fact to my guests when tracker Life Sibuyi spotted the leopard in question off in the distance. We trundled down the road to meet her, slowing down as we approached. As she stopped on the edge of the termite mound the rising sun caught her coat and eyes as she surveyed the road up ahead. Moments later she crossed the road followed by her male cub who had suddenly emerged from the bushes.
Looking back on that morning makes me smile because I now know that was one of the last times I saw the female and her cub together. She has done a great job of raising a cub from her first litter to independence despite numerous challenges, including the early loss of the female cub of the litter.
Now the Ximungwe young male is completely independent and it will be interesting to track his progress has he matures.
Additionally, we have seen the Ximungwe female mating again, so hopefully we can look forward to a new litter of cubs in the not too distant future.