While recently spending an afternoon with guests at a sighting of the Mashaba Female leopard, our conversation led to the leopards past and present seen on Londolozi. This led to a discussion on the Mashaba’s leopards two daughters and the survival rate of a leopard cub.
Sadly, the survival rate of leopard cubs is only around 25% in their first year, however, once they make it to a year old, that figure increases to a survival rate of approximately 75%. The Mashaba Female leopard unfortunately reflects these statistics with her having given birth to an estimated 22 cubs that we are aware of, and only two of them surviving and reaching adulthood. These statistics do not however diminish the impressiveness of this female and the enjoyment we have experienced in viewing her for almost 13 years on Londolozi.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
There is hope for the lineage of the Mashaba Female leopard!
The first cub the Mashaba Female leopard raised successfully, was born in August 2012 and is known as the Nkoveni Female leopard. This female currently holds territory just south of the Sand River and to the east of the reserve, while her other cub, the Ximungwe Female leopard, who was born in 2015, holds territory more centrally and south of our camps.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The Nkoveni Female leopard’s previous litter was the Plaque Rock Female leopard who we still find frequently on the eastern portion of the Sand River where her mother spent time raising her as a cub. The Plaque Rock Female has been seen with the illusive Maxims Male leopard and although she is not quite ready to bear cubs, she is soon approaching the age of possible conception.
A pretty young playful female found along the river to the east of camp
Most recently, the Ximungwe Female leopard successfully raised the Ximungwe Young Male leopard to independence. He has since dispersed to the northern parts of the Sabi Sands to try and establish himself away from the Flat Rock Male leopard and Senegal Bush Male leopards’ territories. The Ximungwe Young Male leopard had not been seen for a fair while until about a month ago. He was found wandering around into the extremity of the Flat Rock Male and Senegal Bush Male leopards’ overlapping territories. One can only hope that in years to come we may see him return to the very same area that he was born on Londolozi.
An inquisitive young male that has been pushed further north by the Senegal Bush Male.
And now with the exciting news of the current cubs we are seeing (the presence of the Nkoveni Female leopard’s cubs and the Ximungwe Female’s cub) one can only hope that history will repeat itself and these litters will be raised to independence.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
It has been an interesting time to note and observe how these two female leopards have changed their usual behaviour with the pressure of trying to raise their offspring to independence. The solitary nature of leopards extends into their parental responsibilities, which leads to them spending a large amount of their time stashing their cubs in safe hiding spots and wandering elusively through their territories to protect their young. For example, the Ximungwe Female leopard has been more difficult to track, as we have discovered her looping back and forth through thick drainage lines and essentially leading us around in circles.
The Nkoveni Female leopard, on the other hand, has established a somewhat ‘predictable’ route from our eastern neighbours when traversing through Londolozi. Interestingly, she now travels during the daytime when moving with her cubs to try and avoid other predators, especially leopards and lions, which would mostly move through the night.
The Leopards of Londolozi continue to thrill and excite both staff and guests with their ever-changing dynamics which we are fortunate to observe over the years. I look forward to what the future may hold as we hope to see these young cubs grow up and watch their lives unfold.