The Ximungwe Female is probably one of the most viewed leopards around Londolozi. She occupies a territory in the central parts of Londolozi, just to the south of the camps, and has been provided with some world-class sightings over the past couple of years. When she is found, there is always a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air as her youthful nature often spurs her on to do something unexpected. She is a very dominant female leopard and is constantly striving to maintain her territory through extensive territorial patrols.
In my opinion, she is one of the most adept hunters we see at Londolozi, I remember hearing a story where one evening during a thunderstorm the Ximungwe Female successfully stalked caught and killed three different impalas. During the course of the next morning, she dragged all three carcasses under the same bush and began feeding on them. With her being such a successful female, the excitement stems from the hopes that she may go hunting while you are with her, or climb into a myriad of different photogenic trees within her territory or simply go on an extensive territorial patrol leading us through a plethora of different vegetation.
On a recent morning game drive, we decided to go in search of the Ximungwe Female. Shortly after leaving camp, ranger Andrea Sithole mentioned over the radio that he had found tracks of what he believed to be the Ximungwe Female. His assumption was based on the Ximungwe Female’s tracks being relatively small, something our experienced trackers can pick up on, and the general area in which the tracks were found. Ranger Robbie Ball and I moved into the area to give Andrea a hand in trying to find her. JUst as we were getting closer to where the tracks were, Andrea let us know that he had a brief view of her moving relatively quickly in the direction of another leopard!
We stepped up our pace to get there as soon as we could, and when arriving at the scene, we saw that she had been in a very brief altercation with the Nhlanguleni Female before chasing her off completely. It was a very short-lived interaction between the two female leopards but showed us that the Ximungwe Female, although smaller in size, is far more aggressive and is in fact the more dominant female in that specific area. The brief excitement was over in a flash, but it was enough to get our hearts racing.
Once the two leopards parted ways, we all decided to stick with the Ximungwe Female, she seemed to be on a mission, marching with purpose. Her now rather large cub, the Ximungwe Young Male, remains dependent on her, and her innate motherly instinct is to continue to provide for this young male until he is completely independent, making kills for himself, and beginning his nomadic journey. This duty means that she must kill twice as much as she usually would, to ensure that she and her cub both have enough food to sustain them.
Knowing this, we chose to stick with her for some time and hopefully, we would potentially see her in action on a hunt. The Ximungwe Female never makes it easy for us rangers and trackers to follow her, as she ducks and dives through very think vegetation in order to get from point A to B. Weaving through what felt like fort knox, we eventually reached a clearing where could view this incredible female without obstruction. Observing her direction, it seemed as though she was on her way to a body of water. We decided to loop ahead of her and get into a position to watch her drink. What happened next was got the heart rate really racing!
We waited patiently at the water’s edge for her to emerge though the thicket line, we heard some commotion, followed by a distress call. Before we could even comprehend what had happened, Dorence turned to me and said “She’s hit! Go Go Go!”. We raced up into the thicket and saw a flash of rosettes with an object in its mouth. The object was a duiker, she was moving with blistering pace to get away from two massive hyenas who too had heard the ruckus. She managed to get up a tamboti tree, escaping the jaws of the hyena while still suffocating the duiker. All this action happened in the space of 60 seconds. Incredible!
Once up the tamboti she managed to finish the job of suffocating the duiker while these two hungry hyenas rushed around the tree, hoping that something of the duiker was left behind for them. She didn’t feed for quite some time, with all the frenzy happening around her, she wanted for things to calm down before she began feeding. Once it all had calmed down, we decided to let her be and feed in peace.
This morning spent with the Ximungwe female showcased her experience, dominance and hunting ability perfectly. She is still relatively young, and we all hope to witness many more mornings like this for years to come.