There are many leopards at Londolozi.
Some that we get to see regularly and then a few that are very seldom encountered; this latter group includes one particular leopard, the Ndzanzeni female.
The Ndzanzeni female is the last surviving female born into the Mother leopard lineage, which was the first viewable leopard seen at Londolozi way back in 1979, so I guess you can say she is Londolozi Royalty, and until recently I had never lain eyes on her.
So when I heard on the radio that a female leopard had been seen in the south-eastern parts of the reserve, an area where she is territorial, I just had to try and get a glimpse of this leopard of legendary descent.
Once we arrived we saw that not only was it the Ndzanzeni female but she was also in a tree that I’m sure most rangers here – myself included – would give anything to see a leopard in; she was in the prominent Natal Mahogany on Dudley River bank. It is a tree that every time I drive past I drive extra slowly just to have a good look to see if we are going to be lucky enough to see a leopard in in its branches, and then I always turn to my guests and say “One day…”
And that day finally happened!
After all the initial excitement she climbed down and we managed to get a good look at her through the binoculars, and that’s when we saw something even more exciting: suckle marks! When a leopard is still lactating you can see darker marks around the mammary glands and they are slightly swollen, which is what we saw, which means that the Ndzanzeni female has cubs somewhere!
So not only did I finally get to see the leopard I have been dying to see for so long now, I got to see her in a tree that I have longed to see a leopard in and we now know that she has a litter hidden, and there is a chance that the Royal leopard bloodline will continue.
Now all we need to do is find the cubs…