What a leopard she is. Since my arrival at Sabi Sabi, almost 5 years ago, I have been absolutely captivated by this beautiful cat. Currently just short on 16 years old, she is still going strong and has recently been found with two new cubs. The sighting was short and sweet but it was a confirmation that she has given birth. The area around the den has been called a negative area in order to allow the cubs to get a little older and then we will start to view them.
But raising these cubs will not be an easy task for her as I have personally witnessed 3 litters, this being the fourth, of which only the Selati male has survived to adulthood. There are so many questions surround these cubs but I think the biggest question of all is who is the father.
My thinking is that it they belong to Maxabeni due to the fact that he pushed Mahlathini out and the only other competition could come from her son, Selati male, he is really the only viable father. However, leopards have been known to be able to store the sperm of a male inside them for up to 2 weeks and if no better suitor comes along she will then use that to fertilise her eggs. If however a better suitor comes along she will eject the stored sperm and mate with the bigger, better male.
We spent about an hour with her last night as we tracked until she got close to the den. She was a fat and full and looking great except for the nasty wound that she has on her front paw. I have a feeling that it was either a horn or a hoof that punctured it and she will have to persevere until it has healed. She stopped off for a drink before we let her slip off into the darkness to go back to the cubs to feed them. I am so excited to see them for the first time and I am sure we will get to see them in the next few weeks.