Christmas Cubs

Posted on December 27, 2011

We have a strong suspicion that the Hlaba Nkunzi Female Leopard has given birth.

For the last week, Hlaba Nkunzi has returned from her extensive wonderings and has been sniffing around the Hillside below the Lodge. She has been seen exploring the Ululapa Hills prior to moving across to Leopard Hills, maybe it was the name that convinced her, or maybe it was simply the fact that her Mother Makwela left her here when she was a cub, a place she knows so well and is so comfortable.

The barking of Baboon’s and the chattering alarm calls of the Vervet monkeys constantly warning us of her present as she moves about the Lodge.

I remember well being called by Housekeeping down to Suite 1, to see a bulge in the Hammock on the outside deck, just the tip of her tail hanging over the side. She can‘t have been more than a few months old, but with razor sharp teeth, proceeded to chew her way through the canvass before falling through the bottom and onto the deck below.

I remember too, many years ago, when Hlaba Nkunzi’s mother Makwela had three daughters. She chose Leopard Hills as their “playground” while she left them to go off hunting, and the chaos they caused was extreme. Returning from the evening Safari on Christmas Eve, a “Gala” Boma Dinner had been arranged, the Chefs had just finished setting up and the feast was laid out awaiting our arrival from Game Drive. One last trip by the Chefs up to the kitchen for a last minute necessity, the Boma was only left unattended for 5 minutes…………….Big Mistake!!! On returning to the Boma, what a sight awaited them. There was Makwela and her three daughters on the Buffet devouring the remains of Christmas Dinner, and we had just arrived back from drive with all our hungry Guests!!!! Needless to say a plan was made and our Guests were extremely understanding. Many a drink was consumed under the African night sky, to the sound of Leopard crunching through Turkey bones just outside the Boma wall, while our amazing Team of Chefs whipped up another round, a Christmas Dinner we will never forget.

For the last 5 days, Hlaba Nkunzi has been moving in and out of the Lodge on a daily basis, leading us to believe she has indeed had her cubs up amongst the rocks, returning to suckle. Time will tell for sure, certainly all the initial indications are positive, watch this space for further details.

What is it about Christmas and Cubs?

13 thoughts on “Christmas Cubs

  1. Fantastic news! Thank you Duncan, your stories from the past are priceless, I would share my Christmas Dinner for such a sight without any doubt! Can?t wait for more:D

    Merry Christmas, Blessed and Prosperous New Year 2012 to you all!

  2. What wonderful news… I pray she has better luck with theses precious little ones than in the past. She is a lovely girl and obviously feels safe and secure with yo all. Merry ChristmasCPN%%$

  3. Happy New Year to you!!! This is a thrilling story for me as we were very fortunate to follow Makwela and her 3 daughters for hours on a visit to Leopard Hills many years ago. They were but 3 months old. Then this past year we had a most extraordinary visit from Hlaba Nkunzi as she jumped up on our vehicle literally inches from Suzanne Bigelow and myself directly behind our ranger. What a thrill that was and now she is a Mother again, we hope!!!

    Thanks for that great story,

    Jeanie Wellington, President OCAPTA

  4. Hey Dunx,
    Remember when I said you should start writing down all of the Makwela stories? Please, please, please.

  5. What a thrill to think that LH has "Christmas Kitties". This must be a real treat for guests to see Hlaba Ngunzi frequent the lodge. Our best to you all at LH and good sightings for 2012.

    Joy and Lon,
    Camarillo, CA

  6. To Jeanie Wellington, President OCAPTA:

    I would give all I have to be with you on this particular game drive!!! What a privilege it had to be!!! Who was the lucky ranger? Any pics?

    Best wishes,

  7. You just never knows what awaits you in the wild – that is the beauty of the bush, the anticipation, the unexpected, the unknown!

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