Recently I had a very fortunate experience watching a female leopard move her cubs for the first time towards a stashed away impala carcass, which was a fair distance away from her den-site. As soon as the cubs are approximately three months old they are often introduced to feeding on carcasses. This is a risky prospect as the cubs would be exposed to the scavenging species such as hyena that could easily kill the young leopards.
The heat of the mid-morning seems to be the best opportunity to move the cubs as many other predators and scavengers rest at this time – minimising the risk for the cubs. As the two cubs started lagging behind the female leopard, she decided to stop to allow the cubs to catch their breath and cool down under a sparsely shaded tree.
After a few moments of rest, the female leopard continued on her path, which found her heading in the direction towards the small terminal building alongside the runway at Singita Sabi Sand. The terminal building allows for guests at the lodge to sit in comfort while waiting for their flights and the coolness of the concrete flooring under the thatched roof made for a perfect haven for the female leopard and two cubs who found some solace in the shade. This allowed for some entertaining activity from the cubs in an area where guests would normally catch their flight or arrive on a flight from this very special location in the middle of the bush.
With flights arriving, guests were collected from the respective planes and advised of the leopards resting in the terminal building, which brought about with many excited shrieks, along with a few gasps of non-belief.
Later that afternoon, the three leopards were found a short distance from the airstrip with their prized carcass. Unfortunately, the following day, the carcass was devoured by hyenas but the female leopard had already moved the cubs safely away from the area. With her strong attributes as a mother, we look forward to many more sightings of the Schotia female and her very special litter.