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Sean Zeederberg

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As a young boy growing up on an agricultural farm in Zimbabwe, Sean spent every opportunity entertaining himself outdoors, camping in the local nature reserve and learning about all facets of the natural world. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental ...

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on Torn Between Joy and Sorrow: Exploring the Contrasting Realities of a Mother Leopard- Virtual Safari #219

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Senior Digital Ranger

Omg do you get a vet to help that cub or at least put the poor guy down so it doesn’t starve to death. Humans are supposed to have compassion and a desire to help suffering or injured. I hope the right thing is done for this cub

It’s very sad, but you’re absolutely right Sean – intervention is not right. As you say, apart from the logistics of separating the cub, then surgery with a lengthy time away from its mother and siblings, and even if it’s successful the cub may not be accepted back afterwards. If Nkoveni is able to bring the other 2 cubs to independence (as she did with Xinkhova and Stone Drift) that would be a phenomenal achievement, unlikely though it is to happen.

I agree, intervention is not right, as tough as it is to see this cub like this it is not a practical way forward. I really hope she has more success with her two healthy cubs.

Thank you Sean and greetings from Boulder, Colorado! We’ve had the privilege to see this adorable family about 3 weeks ago (before the cub’s injury) and are now following your reports of sightings, hoping for that miracle! Your blogs are our daily highlight – the great work you and your team are doing allows us to feel close to the Londolozi magic and hold on to and relive our memories of the most special times at Londolozi.

You are most welcome, Marion. I am so glad you are now following the blog and are able to see the updates as they come through.

Senior Digital Ranger

very interesting. I hope the cub pulls through.

We are all hope so.

Hi Sean, I have a feeling that you wouldn’t leave the cub to his fate easily… but I understand there are many variables to take into account with, and, even though the situation doesn’t look bright at all there are at least some little chances. I see it is quite playful and willing to live, this goes against its accident. Is it able to suckle? The cub sleeping in the tree hole looks so sweet.

It certainly isn’t an easy decision. Yes, it appeared to still be able to suckle and so wasn’t starving.

As much as today’s virtual safari is filled with the joyful sightings of Nkoveni and her three cubs, it is also a reminder that the bush harbors cruel realities as well. It is devastating to learn that one of these three rambunctious cubs has suffered a jaw injury. Whether it’s broken or dislocated doesn’t matter as both are serious maladies that will certainly hinder the cub’s ability to eat. Given their age, their dietary needs are provided by their mother’s hunting successes. Strong teeth and jaws are necessary to eat enough meat for continued growth and strengh. I’ll try to remain optimistic , knowing that little bones are easier to heal than an adult’s, but in the case of a jaw, that would be a bush miracle!

It was such a sad discovery. As you say, a strong jaw is vital for survival as these cubs begin to eat more and more meat.

So heartbreaking to see that tiny cub walking with it’s injury to its jaw. Shame it won’t be able to eat or drink. So so sad and upsetting to see this happen. But Nkoveni still has two more cubs, and let’s pray she can raise these two to adulthood without any incidents further. Mixed emotions as you say Sean, and I am sure you were upset to see that poor cub as well. So so sad.

It is so sad. I think the cub is still able to nurse from its mother with the injury though.

Sean, great video of the Nkveni female and her cubs. It is a shame that one of the cubs is injured .. It will be tough for it to survive but I will hope for the best.

Thanks so much, William. It will be tough for this little cub.

Thnks, Sean for this very special video. I am really torn between joy and extreme sadness. These cubs are so gorgeous, such beautiful, funny and lively little leopards. And the Novena female is such a good and experienced mother. Whatever happened, it’s extremely sad that this little one will probably not make it, that it will probably starve because it can’t eat anymore. I can understand that it is so hard to just stand by without being able to help. Because helping would mean to take it away from its surroundings and family and natural life.
However, maybe a miracle will happen. And there are still two wonderful little leopards left and I keep my fingers crossed that at least they will be able to become fully grown leopards.
The scenes where they are playing around are so wonderful!

I know how you feel. It was such a tricky sighting as watching the cub play was amazing and to spend any time with a leopard and her cubs is always special. But the dark cloud looming is that the one cub is severely injured and that is not pleasant to see. We got some high quality footage and photos of it and it is a broken jaw which sadly would require surgery to fix.

Maybe a vet could have a look at the cub and could try to judge whether it would be possible to relocate the jaw like one can sometimes relocate a frozen shoulder? If it could be done without an operation/ surgery, just by trying to fix the jaw into its proper position. And the cub could be returned to its mom after a very short time? I don’t know… just a question.

Digital Ranger

This is a tough one! You did an excellent job explaining the heart wrecking situation. Londolozi is special because of its closeness to nature and if you start intervening then the entire experience of the place will change. Nature is as cruel as she is beautiful. You are stewards and not masters! Thank you

Thank you so much, Linda. It is such a tough one to see. Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Londolozi is the way it is as a result of how things have been done for decades, if we start intervening now, then the place will undoubtably change. If we intervene now, then where do we draw the line going forward?

I was a little hesitant to watch this video, but something made me to do it. The connection I have to leopard motherhood as a single mother is definitely present. When a cub is in distress, you react instinctively. Through this connection, I send all the healing love to her and her cub.

Thanks so much, Camilla. I think we all share similar sentiments with a mother leopard, but I am sure yours is strong.

Ugghhhh Sean, very sad news about the young cub with the potentially broken jaw. Offering best wishes to the Nkoveni and her cubs, and holding out for a miracle that the little one’s jaw somehow sorts itself out.

It really is such sad news and I was hoping that the injury wasn’t as serious.

oh my gosh…poor little thing…seems mom understands there’s an issue too 🙁 doesn’t appear to be in terrible pain but assuming unable to eat? starving to death is no way to go…I suppose there’s no way to euthanize the cub either? I guess we have to take the wonderful and the heartbreaking when it comes to nature; it’s not all glorious 🙁

It is such a sad situation, but sadly we just had to let nature take its course, and thankfully it did if you go and read today’s blog.

Sean. Are these Nkoveni female cubs, the same as the frolicking ones in the Mother’s Day Instagram post (photos by Kyle on May 12). Their sizes appear very different and I know the postings are not necessarily sequential. Please keep us posted on this little one, the good (the bad and the ugly). Thank you.

No so these cubs are the Nkoveni Female’s cubs. The frolicking ones in the mother’s day post were the Ximungwe Female’s cubs.

Thank you. And, we hope to see both families growing when we visit in September.

sadly, the Ximungwe Female has lost both her cubs, but maybe she will have had another litter of cubs by September. And I seriously hope that the Nkoveni Female still has her two cubs by then.

Senior Digital Ranger

That’s so very sad for that poor little cub who appears to be healthy in every other way but looks like it is doomed to starve to death.
Have you been able to see if it can feed at all?

Sadly, it was unable to feed on a carcass as it is not able to bite off any pieces of meat or chew, but it was able to nurse from its mother.

Senior Digital Ranger

Poor little thing, lets hope for that miracle. thanks for your reply, it must be so hard to watch first hand.

It is never easy to see an animal in pain or with such a severe injury.

It felt so incredibly sad reading about this little cub when it’s jaw was injured but I accept the uncertainty of life in the bush and how harsh it can be. Truly gut wrenching to hear the news of the little ones death but also thinking it’s better the end came fast because of how obvious the struggle to survive this injury would be. We as humans have to accept the brutal reality of life for these magnificent wild creatures and not interfere even when our hearts break for them.

Wow Sean, Tough call on this one. Agreed that intervention is not a good idea. Sad though that Nkoveni will lose any of her cubs!

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