Love is in the Air: Leopard & Lion Matings in Southern Africa


Below are some fantastic sightings of some familiar faces at the Londolozi game reserve in southern Africa, plus a visit from the pack of wild dogs! Love was also in the air with more mating leopards and lions, but my highlights for the week were the times spent with the mother leopards and their cubs.

A face I hadn’t seen in a while… the Maxabene 3:2 Young Male. This week he was seen mating with the Tamboti Female, but on this occasion he had just finished an impala carcass and was looking for a comfortable spot to lie in the shade.

We had initially found him because the elephants we were viewing got very upset upon smelling him and chased him out of a tree! Upon reaching a safe distance, he settled down for the heat of the day.

A Lilac-breasted roller’s colours seem to be enhanced by the bright new foliage on the trees at the moment. Summer is here!

Two young hippos play in the later afternoon at Taylor’s Dam.

The Tutlwa Female looks for the Marthly Male. After about a year and a half of raising two youngsters, this female has come back into estrus for the first time and mated with the Marthly Male this week.

They sought a bit of privacy behind a marula tree!

These two leopards were together for at least four days, and during their ‘honeymoon’ travelled a vast distance around Londolozi and our surrounds. But despite catching them towards the end of the mating period, we still witnessed a lot of action!

I think the Tutlwa Female is the most beautiful leopard at Londolozi, and she comes by it honestly – her mother is the Vomba Female who is also a stunning creature. Here, she flirts a bit with the Marthly Male, showing off her beautiful coat.

One of the Marthly Male’s distinguishing features is his short blond ‘mane’ which catches the light here.

Two young elephants drink from Circuit Pan. They also sprayed mud on themselves to cool down on this hot day.

We had a brief sighting of the cheetah this week, relaxing in his success after hunting. We’re not sure what he caught, but he was very full and sleeping in a small patch of shade.

A pair of African Fish Eagles look down on the Sand River.

The better part of our week was spent in search of the leopard cubs around Londolozi. Word is out about the abundance of cubs at the moment, and guests are arriving prepared to try and find them! It can take a great deal of patience to find them, but it is always worth the wait. Here, the Piva Female’s cub looks at our vehicle while the mother slept. Clearly the cub was bored and wanted a playmate, so she actually came over to investigate us quite closely! It is such a privilege to be able to share a moment like this with such an incredible creature.

A Kudu bull shows off his impressive horns in the afternoon light. It is relatively rare to see these animals out in the open like this, as they are more adapted to life in thickets.

One of the Wild dog pups waits for the adults to return from hunting. They left the youngsters for about 20 minutes while they chased impala, but unfortunately returned without having been successful. Wild dogs will often regurgitate food for their young instead of bringing them to the carcass.

Towards the end of the week, we discovered a Tsalala Breakaway lioness with the scar-nosed Majingalane Male in the Sand River.

It is thought that her three sisters, the other young Tsalalas who are about four years old, are currently denning somewhere with their first set of cubs!

The Dudley Riverbank Female battles the strong heat of the day in her efforts to hunt duiker. We watched her on the scent trail of a duiker for about three hours. There is a lot of pressure on this female to hunt successfully as her 6 month old cub is still very dependent on her. Unfortunately we did not see the cub this week, but assume she is hiding it in a very good place.

On one of the hottest days so far this summer, a few buffalo and a rhino claim their respective sides of a mud wallow.

Two of the hyena cubs, from different litters, at the Maripsi densite.

We were extremely lucky to have a second sighting of the Piva Female’s cub this week, after a long track and find by Freddy! And once again, it was well worth the effort. We watched as this adorable youngster ‘attacked’, ‘killed’, hoisted and pretended to feed on a piece of elephant dung – just as it will to its prey when it is older.

After falling out of the small tree twice – carrying a piece of elephant dung while trying to maintain balance is hard work! – the little female settled in the shade.

Rich Laburn
Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.
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