One evening we came across a female leopard walking determinedly along a track in Sabi Sand GR. We followed her for a while and although she wasn’t worried by us, she moved off the road in to thick bush.

We couldn’t follow her any further so we decided to leave and move on. A bit further she re-appeared on the road in front of us, but this time with two big cubs in tow. The cubs were playful and tumbling along chasing each other and everything else in sight.

Mum would have none of it and kept on urging them to keep following. Eventually she led them to a tree with a kill in it. Her plan became clear to us now. She obviously would have left the cubs behind to hunt and after she had secured her kill in the tree she would have gone back to fetch her babies. She now invited them to climb in the tree to feed.

This was clearly new to the cubs. The female cub, who took the lead in getting up to the food, was then determined not to share it with her brother. A lot of hissing and displaying went on, and she obviously got her point across because the little chap stayed put at the ground. The climbing was difficult enough but the cub had no skill in opening the skin of the dead nyala.

The nyala was precariously dangling from a branch and it almost fell down each time the female cub attempted to cut through it. On several occasions she almost fell down herself. She finally opened the dead animal and all the intestines fell out which were gratefully received by her brother below. We left them in peace hoping the brother would get his fair share eventually.

By Ariadne van Zandbergen
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

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