When a call came over the radio that there was a mating pair of leopards that had been found around Little Bush Camp my mind immediately jumped to an assumption. It was Little Bush female and possibly Mahlathini male on the fringe of his territory. When an update of the sighting came through, I discovered that I was far off.
The update mentioned a third leopard and by that stage the male had been positively identified too. Little Bush female was present and she was pursuing Maxabeni who was pursuing Nottins. This was enough to send my heart racing and made me decide to head in that direction.
As we approached the location where all the action was happening, we could see the canopy of a tree in the dark night. The spotlights shining up at the Little Bush female were responsible for the golden glow. We got to the base of the tree and found Maxabeni and Nottins lying side by side. This was the third time Nottins had tried to mate with this maturing male and he had finally committed to the whole process. His commitment was very one sided, with Little Bush in the tree and showing interest in descending, he gave a chilling hiss. He wasn’t going to rush into this mating thing and one female was daunting enough for the, as far as we are aware, first timer.
The mating continued and the pair opened up a small gap between themselves and the base of the tree where Little Bush found herself temporarily trapped. She made a quick move and with a few well-placed paws was back on terra firma, Maxabeni was not happy with the uninvited guest and as quickly as she came down, Little Bush found her way back up.
Eventually Little Bush made her way down the tree and tried to entice Maxabeni into following her off into the night but with a blur of spots and dust the powerful young male made it clear he was going to be staying with Nottins. We left the leap of leopards to it and made our way back for some dinner, sitting in silence as we went over what we had just seen.
It is special enough to see a single leopard out here, and an absolute privilege to follow these cats and witness some interesting behavior, but to have THREE leopards in one place at the same time, it is almost too much for me let alone a young male leopard with two females in hot pursuit.