The relationship between Londolozi and leopards goes hand in hand, to say the least. Londolozi just wouldn’t be the same without these elusive predators. Over the past few weeks, the Ximungwe Female and her six-month-old cub have been providing us with some extraordinary game viewing.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
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With her being the closest territorial female to the Londolozi’s Camps, searching for her in the early hours of our game drive has become very popular lately. The slight hurdle when working to try and find this beautiful female and cub is the rather thick terrain in which most of her territory is situated. Some areas are tough to access with vehicles. But what this does allow for is the expert trackers of Londolozi to express their ancient magic in tracking on foot.
The Ximungwe Female and her cub climb into an exquisite tree both peering off into the distance.
Tracker Freddy Ngobeni and I have been able to share some unforgettable sightings of the Ximungwe Female and young male cub with a number of our guests. Even though it sometimes takes a little longer to track them – perhaps even two or three game drives to find them due to the unexpected nature of tracking wild animals in the wilderness. The Ximungwe Female can be a shy leopard at times, making the reward of seeking her and the cub out that much more fantastic, emphasising the quality of each and every experience with them.
As they say in the classics, a picture speaks a thousand words, and so I have put together a few of my recent photographs of this pair for you to enjoy.
We found tracks of the Ximungwe Female in a dry river bed that looked relatively fresh. Trackers Freddy Ngobeni and Shadrack Mkhabela followed her tracks for about 40 minutes before turning the corner to a spectacular sight. The Ximungwe Female, her cub, and a very fresh Impala kill. Shortly afterward, fellow ranger Guy Brunskill and I arrived with our guests at the sighting. We watched the two of them feed, and then the Ximungwe Female hoist the kill out of reach of any lurking danger. The strength, power, and balance were phenomenal as we watched her ascend the tree. It has been awesome to see how the young cub is learning many different arts of hunting and protecting its food from such a young age.
Shortly after the Ximungwe Female hoisted the impala safely into a tree, we sat and watched this mother and her cub play and groom on top of a termite mound for the rest of the afternoon. The intimacy of this scene was amazing. The care and protection a leopard shows to her cub is something special to witness.
In the distance, something catches the young leopard’s eye. His predator instincts are starting to develop from a young age.
Another special sighting of the young male cub climbing a large Marula tree to join his mother beside an impala kill. Ranger Nick Sims captured this moment of the young cub’s ascent.
Having just had a very close run-in with a hyena near to where they had a hoisted impala kill, the Ximungwe female swiftly leads her cub away from the area. We thought they were potentially abandoning the last scraps of the kill, but it was in fact them heading off to have a drink. The cub was a little more hesitant to drink than the mother. Ranger and content producer, Sean Zeederberg, managed to capture this beautiful image of the two of them.
Resting upon a boulder as the last few rays of golden light break through the trees before sunset.
The mother is teaching the cub how to fight, helping to develop its skills. These days will be vital for when this young male becomes independent and will need to fight other males to establish his own territory.
Leopards in trees are always a spectacular sight. Here, the Ximungwe Female takes a moment to rest and scan her surroundings from the vantage point of a dead Leadwood.
Just before descending the dead leadwood, the Ximungwe female yawned.
In my opinion, the sightings of these two leopards are only going to get better. With the cub becoming more and more relaxed with each day that passes, Londolozi’s staff and our guests are in for a real treats in the future.
The Sunsetbend Lineage is one from which we view a number of different leopards on Londolozi. Following it down the middle we can see the Vomba Female who raised the Mashaba Female who raised the Ximungwe Female.
It was probably about 14-15cm long