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Exploring Africa Since 1688

Monday, June 4, 2012

Leopard Cub, Londolozi

A few weeks ago Talley Smith, one of our favorite guides, and Freddy Ngobeni, a Tracker with uncanny skills, discovered a leopard den with a cub at Londolozi.  It was a dream come true for her.  To protect the cub the story was only released a few days ago followed by the first video footage (see below!) just today.  Exerpts from Talley's story.
"It was a very quiet morning, one of those rare times when you don’t even see impala, the birds aren’t singing, and of course the radio is silent. We decided to check a road less traveled in the south based on a single, long-distance bushbuck alarm call breaking the calm. We never found the bushbuck, but we did find a set of leopard tracks....Freddy whispered to me, in Shangaan, ‘This is where she has had cubs before.'"

Freddy and Talley, together with their guests, became the first people to meet this little cub of The Dudley Riverbank Female.

"The way she is behaving, she does have a baby, yes.’ We waited quietly as the mother relaxed. Then, she looked towards the dark hole of the crevice and the cub slowly appeared! It cautiously moved towards us, looking, as it nuzzled up to its mother while being groomed. That intimate moment is one I will remember my whole life."

In the weeks that followed, Talley learned a lot about the maternal behavior of leopards. The discovery of a den site does not mean guaranteed cub viewing.  Visits were also limited to protect the cub from discovery by predators.

"A leopard den site is unique. They are not like wild dogs, they are not like hyenas, and they are not like lions. Lions, hyenas, and wild dogs are all social creatures who have the group to help look after their little ones, as well as help in hunting. Leopards need to spend longer hours hunting to secure a kill, and keep their young even more concealed in remote places. These are some of the reasons why it is so rare to see leopard cubs…."

Read Talley's full story on the Londolozi blog here.

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