About 8 months ago, Madikwe Game Reserve received a wonderful treat when two leopard cubs, a male and a female, were born on the reserve.
When leopard cubs are born, they are extremely vulnerable. They are blind for the first week of their lives, and rely heavily on their mothers for protection and food.
Cubs will stay with the mother for up to two years, gaining the skills and experience they will need to be able to live alone.
Being a leopard cub in Madikwe can be challenging, as cubs share the area with many other large predators who are all competing for the same resources.
After a few months of the cubs being kept out of sight and away from danger, we started to spot the brother and sister duo on our safaris, frequently moving between their favourite hiding places.
One of their regular hangouts is a vacant aardvark burrow, where they enjoy playing hide and seek while escaping the heat during the day.
We all knew these cubs were special from a very young age. They seemed to be very relaxed and comfortable around vehicles even without their mother present.
The mother, who has hardly been seen and is extremely shy, seems to leave her cubs to their own devices. In reality, I’m sure she is watching over them from a distance! Her presence is only revealed when she leaves meals for them up in the trees.
The female cub is far more adventurous than her brother, who tends to be the lazier one. Even though they are quite young, the cubs have already matured so much and are becoming somewhat independent.
One of the cubs even made its first kill, managing to hunt a mongoose, and was clearly proud to bring it home to her mother that evening.
We are so lucky to watch these cubs grow up and develop their own personalities. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the cubs into adulthood.
Words By: William Knight
Photos By: Stephanie Hornsey