Recently there has been quite a flurry of newly independent leopards across the reserve. The Ntomi Male and both daughters of the Nkoveni female’s last litter make up the latest three additions. The Three Rivers Young Male’s independence also looms large at some point within the following year.
However, over the past year and a half, the Piccadilly Female and her daughter have not seen much of the Londolozi spotlight. But for the last little while, the Piccadilly Young Female has been fully independent of her mother. She becomes the only cub that the Piccadilly Female, who is now nine years of age, has successfully raised to independence. Her father, presumed to be the Flat Rock Male, is still territorial over most of Marthly.
This possibly comes as a slightly overdue update, but we’re very happy to announce that the Piccadilly Young Female will now be referred to as the Ngungwe 3:3 Female Leopard. We formally renamed her a few months ago but did not have enough supporting images to put a post out until recently.
The word ‘ngungwe’ is the local Shangaan name for the iconic African Fish Eagle. We derived her name from a small road on Marthly that lies close to the Sand River, known as “ngungwe link”. This road is quite central to the area she occupies. And lies in a stunning part of the reserve with a massive variety of terrain. From the lush green banks of the Sand River to large expansive Marula-littered crests, to dense Combretum thickets, as well as some interesting granite outcrops and boulder-strewn hillsides. To add to the beauty of this area is the ancient Manyeleti Riverbed that runs through the heart of it.
It is important to note that she was born in April 2020 – a time during which most of the world was in lockdown due to the global pandemic. This meant that during what are considered to be the most crucial stages of a leopard’s life (during the habituation process), she was not exposed to vehicles. Rangers and Trackers were not out every day tracking and finding her and her mother.
There was a considerable difference between her and other cubs on the reserve who were born seven months later. The other cubs came into contact with vehicles more regularly, and from a much younger age. Without this exposure, the Ngungwe Female was a relatively unrelaxed and skittish youngster. And therefore is the main reason why she has not seen much of the spotlight growing up.
Every time Rangers, Trackers and Guests have the opportunity to view her, we are all reminded of how incredibly privileged we are at Londolozi to view most leopards in the way that we do. However, the more that we’ve seen of her, the more relaxed she has become. It will simply be a process of patience, persistence and reverence.
She has always proved to be a very difficult leopard to find regardless. This is largely due to the terrain of the area she occupies and her secretive nature. Fortunately, our hopes are that going forward we will start to see more and more of her.
She is entering a stage now where she will be looking to make more of a concerted effort to establish territory and make her presence known. Sightings of her have been few and far between, but each time we see her we notice that she is maturing into a beautiful young adult leopard who will most likely provide some exceptional leopard viewing on Marthly in years to come.