A Mother’s Instincton Dec 01, 2023
We had been looking for a female leopard and her cubs for a couple of drives, going out early in the mornings to the areas where she was last seen, but luck was not on our side. That was until we found tracks of a female leopard crossing the road, with tiny little paw prints that followed. The excitement in our tracker’s eyes and voice said it all, but we knew hard work in finding them lay ahead…
Our tracking exercise was cut short when we found Ntsumi and her two little ones not too far from the road. Unable to stand still for just one moment, the cubs were all over the place running around their mother and one could see their excitement. This made us think that she might have killed something, and she was leading them towards where she stashed the kill. As a norm, when the mother goes hunting, she will leave the cubs in a safe place and will return to them to either feed them or take them to where she made the kill.
Their joy was short-lived by hyenas who targeted one of the cubs who was lying down away from their mother, obviously not aware of the danger that was lurking close by. When the cub eventually turned around, the hyena was too close, and all that the cub could do was give a distress call and run into a small little bush that did not offer the protection it needed.
Within seconds Ntsumi got to the hyena and made sure she sent the hyena away with a few scars. Normally leopards will avoid confrontations, but in this situation, she fought the hyena off like I’ve never seen before. Comparing her size to the hyena we all thought she might get killed but she came out victorious as she managed to drive the hyena far away from her and her cubs.
Finally, we could all relax. We were wrong. The battle was not over, and the hyena returned and was not alone. Four more hyenas came rushing in, and the cubs scattered to take cover. One cub chose a dead tree as its cover but wasn’t enough as the hyenas could get to it. Ntsumi came to her cubs’ aid as she fought her way through the hyenas and jumped onto the same dead tree to protect her cub.
All of us witnessing this were holding our breaths and had our hands over our hearts as the cubs slowly moved to the last branches of the dead tree. The hyenas tried to climb the tree and with the force they exerted, caused the branches to start shaking, almost resulting in the cub falling out of the tree.
Ntsumi stood between her cub and the hyenas and fiercely maintained her growls that kept the hyenas at bay. This went on until one of the hyenas decided to leave.
The resilience Ntsumi had, kept her cubs alive as the hyenas were really after blood. This just shows that even when leopards try to avoid confrontation at all costs, in this situation Ntsumi gave it her all to protect her little cubs.
Blog by Ronald Mutero (Selati Camp Ranger)