Behind the scenes:
Leopardess & cub on a hunt
Guide Jordan Jacobson talks us through this incredible sighting
On a beautiful morning game drive, Guide Jordan Jacobson came across an incredible moment between a Leopardess and her young cub. We spoke to Jordan to ask about this sighting and why it’s so important to this young leopard family.
“…after some time, we saw her walking on the road with her two youngsters…”
Jordan, tell us about the moment:
“It was a perfectly golden morning in July. We were driving in Djuma and got a report that the Thalamba leopardess was coming from the neighbouring property Torchwood. We waited patiently on one of the roads that links to that cutline. After some time, we saw her walking on the road with her two youngsters and we managed to get ahead of them. As she walked past us, we turned the vehicle around.”
Game drives take place in the coolest part of the day – first thing in the morning, and just before sunset. Driving out in the chilly mornings means an early start – but don’t worry, our guides are fully equipped with hot coffee and blankets! Be sure to bring a warm jacket and your camera, because we are sure to see some amazing examples of The Big Five here at Arathusa.
The Thalamba leopardess spotted some nyala on the other side of the long grass. Nyala are a medium sized antelope, and the perfect prey for leopard. They have distinctive white stripes on their brown fur, and the mature males have imposing, twisting horns and a darker, shaggier fur.
We have been blessed at Arathusa to have a very healthy leopard population. This Spring we have welcomed at least 4 leopard cubs! Our guides have counted 63 separate sightings, which is very exciting as leopards are usually very timid and seeing one in person is a chance in a lifetime!
“…this is an extremely unique adaptation! Leopards are very agile, but this is not a common sight at all…”
Jordan continues with the scene: “As soon as they got wind of each other, she needed to look over and identify if there was an opportunity to catch one of the nyala without too much movement. So, instead of her running around the grass, she did something that is quite unheard of… She stood up on her hind legs (much like a meerkat) and peered over the long grass!”
“This is an extremely unique adaptation! It’s not a very common thing and we haven’t seen it very often, but leopard being leopard are extremely agile. It must be a skill that has been passed down to her from her mother. With that being said, this is an excellent learning opportunity for her cubs as well.”
“If you look at the intensity in the cub’s eyes, it was taking all of that in, just like we would. The way the cub was watching her, you know that everything the mom was doing was being instilled in that cub’s mind. We can almost guarantee that this behaviour is going to be passed down to the cubs and we will probably be seeing this again in the future if the cubs successfully make it to adulthood and become independent.
It was a great lesson for her cubs to watch her, and it was a pretty amazing sight for us to experience. In the end, once she popped her head over, she realised that it wasn’t worth it, so she moved on. Here’s to hoping we see some more unique adaptations from these agile beings.”
Adaptations like these hunting techniques will hopefully equip the young cubs, so that they can reach full maturity here at Arathusa.
Have you ever seen a leopard on a game drive? It can be a magical experience!
If The Big Five is on your bucket list, chat with us at Arathusa about how we can make your African safari dreams come true!