Earlier on during the day I had heard that one of Sabi Sabi staff members had had a quick glimpse of a leopard cub, I was so excited to hear the news as we had no luck for a while finding the leopard cub but had only seen tracks.
Time for afternoon drive and we set out on a mission to find this precious bundle. I explained to my guests that we would head to the area where the cub was seen and hoped that mom would be there too. We scanned the area and listened but no luck, we had one last area we could check. On approach Jimmy (my tracker) pointed out that the Grey Go-away birds were alarm calling. We stopped and listened for any more signs and had also noticed that there were some waterbuck close by, when one of them suddenly made an alarm call, Jimmy and I – at the same time – said “She’s here!”
With careful manoeuvring, we found our way down to a rocky outcrop where we noticed the female leopard standing tall on the rocks, but no sign of her cub. She slowly made her way to a small water puddled to have a drink and then proceeded to head towards us where she then started to call out to her cub.
We sat so quietly with excitement and anticipation… Would the cub come out? Was it even here?
She continued to call for a little while but still no sign, we started to lose a little hope. I know well that it could take some time as the cub will most probably be nervous and all we needed was a little patience. Then there was a little rustle in the long grass and out popped the cutest little face right next to mom!! We couldn’t believe our eyes!!
Mom started to move and baby followed, stopping every few steps for a scan and a quick bird chase. Every time the cub would dart off, mom would wait patiently until it returned.
We sat in awe as we watch this little cub investigate. Mom eventually sat down on the road waiting and when baby decided it was time for some milk, she nuzzled in and settled for a little drink – what an incredibly humbling moment to sit with a leopard and her cub while nursing – it can’t get more special than that!!
As we thought this moment couldn’t get any more surreal, out popped a nosey hyena from the long grass. The cub scattered and mom let off a few growls. Panic struck the guests and we had just spoken about the natural enemies cubs have and hyena being one of them. I had reassured them that this lone young hyena had nothing on mommy leopard and she would give that hyena a good slap around if he came too close – and just like that with a deep sigh and breath of release, the hyena knew what was good for him and moved on.
With the sun starting to set we said our farewell and left the duo – and hope the mommy keeps the little one safe.