There have still been no sightings of Makwela and her remaining two cubs since she moved them out of the Reserve.
Following the death of one of her cubs at the hands/paws of the Tegwane Male Leopard, Makwela has moved her cubs west out of the Reserve up into the Hills, a place she knows well and a place she gave birth to this last litter. Despite knowing the area well, it is incredibly frustrating that we have no jurisdiction over this area and are unable to guarantee her safety and the safety of her remaining two cubs. Presently Trackers from the Reserve have been wondering the hills looking for signs, but so far to no avail.
These are difficult and worrying times for all of us who have come to know Makwela so well, I have been incredibly fortunate to have watched her transition from juvenile to adult over the last 12 years that I have been in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands Reserve.
Our hopes were elevated two mornings ago when a female Leopard was sighted at a waterhole close to the Western Boundary, but it turned out to be the Hlaba Nkunzi female who seems to have teamed up with the killer of Makwela’s cub, the Tegwane Male, an unusual occurrence as she is still too young to mate.
Every morning as the Game Drives set out; there is an air of anticipation that someone will discover her tracks, wondering her old stomping grounds. The positive news we have just received is her tracks were located last night heading back into the Reserve; she was obviously on the hunt before exiting the Reserve once again in the early hours of this morning. Although it is frustrating she went out again, there is a positive to this, and that is the probability the cubs are still alive, there is no other reason in our opinion for her returning to the Hills outside the Reserve on such a regular basis.
We shall keep you updated on the outcome as soon as we have more information, I am optimistic that this will culminate in a positive outcome for Makwela and her cubs.
Thanks to Marius and Gary for the use of some of their pictures of Makwela in this article.