Sad end for a brave young cub

Posted on April 5, 2011

It has been a rather sad few days here at Leopard Hills’we have heard varying reports from different sources that Hlabankunzi’s remaining cub has been killed by Xinzele but it wasn‘t clear what actually happened so we have been waiting for confirmation of events before posting, so here goes…

Hlabankunzi killed a waterbuck calf in the middle of Xinzele’s new territory early last Wednesday the 30th. She then left her kill to fetch her 15 month old cub that she has been successfully hiding far in the east away from Xinzele. Whilst she was gone during the day Xinzele found the kill and was seen feeding on the kill. He apparently left the kill momentarily, probably to quench his thirst and this is when Hlabankunzi returned with her cub.

During the evening drive she was found feeding there with her cub and this is when Xinzele returned and badly injured the cub which took refuge up a tree. Late in the evening Hlabankunzi was valiantly marking and calling trying to distract Xinzele but to no avail, he apparently got hold of the cub and some rangers apparently heard the scuffle as he killed the cub in thick bush. The next morning this was confirmed and he was seen feeding on the remains of the cub.

We really believed that this youngster would make it, she was so close! It does seem that it was a really unlucky chain of events that led to Xinzele finding and killing the cub that was so close to independance! Hlabankunzi has done so well to nurse her cub this far and has shown remarkable skills during this hostile territorial take over by Xinzele.

We must remember that this is her first litter of cubs so she is still learning as a mother, we do however have no doubt that if it wasn‘t for such a determined takeover by Xinzele both cubs would have made it.

Hopefully this immensely strong young male (only 3 and a half years) will keep other intruding males at bay and claim this prime territory for a good few years. Hlabankunzi will probably come into oestrus soon and we may have some new cubs shortly.

Here are a few photographic memories of a brilliant mother and 2 cubs that all of the Leopard Hills staff and our guests grew so fond of over the past 15 months.

Suite 5 pool

On way to killPlaying

17 thoughts on “Sad end for a brave young cub

  1. Thanks Dave.

    Very, very sad.

    Do you have any confirmation of what became of Tegwaane (spelling?), the father? I last heard he was stuck across the Sand river but I guess he isn’t coming back?

  2. Oh gosh! This is so sad. Does Hlabankunzi seem ok? It must be brutal to loose both cubs. I know this is nature’s way but it still breaks my heart. Thanks for letting us know

  3. Thanks Dave.

    I have such fond memories of these two cubs in and around the Lodge. Special memories like the day we had to evict them from the Library because they were attacking the Zebra skin rug, or the day they were lying on the couch in the lower lounge while we had early morning coffee before the morning drive.

    Hlaba Nkunzi is resilient and she will raise more cubs to continue the Makwela bloodline,I have doubt we will see her in and around the Lodge again soon with her new additions…………….watch this space.

  4. Hi Sepp, I really wish we could confirm the whereabouts of Tegwan or what happened to him!

    He was last seen in December before the Flooding (we couldn’t cross the Sand River for most of Jan and Feb 11) Anything could have happened??? What we can confirm is that no tracks have been found since we have been able to cross the river!

    Hi Jody, as Dunx mentioned she is very resilient and has already made 2 kills close to the lodge since then…will keep you all posted.

  5. This is a very sad day and I am heartbroken at this news. Where is Tegwan to sort this naughty chap out! So close yet so far – the harsh cruelty of nature. We pray that she will again become a mother filled with more wisdom.

  6. Dave,
    very sad news!
    It is hard for us to understand such horrible things, but they are part of a beautiful nature too and we have to accept them.
    I hope she will get new cubs soon, and this time hopefully I will have the possibility to meet them.

    All the best


  7. Legends before they had a chance to claim the official title…

    Hlabankunzi’s cubs are the first and only Leopard cubs I have ever seen… They will always hold a special place in my heart.

    Dave, as you say, she is a first time mother and I’m sure lessons were learnt. As sad as the loss is, I have to take a step back and wonder how powerful the genetics are in this circle? A first time mother doing s great job to date, and a young male so determined to lay his claim… Very interesting if they copulate and have cubs, as the "book" will read that this has extreme potential of success.

    Having said that, I am hollow at the loss. I was really looking forward to seeing the remaining cub in a few weeks.

  8. Hey Andrew,

    Yeah a hollow feeling here after the loss however looking forward I agree with your sentiment! Massive potential for powerful genes going forward, Xinzele really is impressive for his young age (3 and a half)!

    See you in few weeks bud!

  9. Thanks Dave & Duncan
    Sad that you have confirmed our worst fears. You must be very sore in your hearts having had such a close relationship with the cubs. May Hlaba Nkunzi share her future offspring with you so intimately. I am also saddened that Tegwaan seems to have gone too – he was magnificent, but perhaps its best he stays away if Xinzele has taken over and is likely to father new offspring – we don’t want a repeat of this should Tegwaan return! Hugs to you all x

  10. Cannibalism is not acceptable. This is a very bad Leopard.Imagine what his off spring will be. Send him off!

  11. I’m so very sorry for the loss of Hlaba Nkunzi’s last cub! This is such a hard way of nature! I do hope she is able to be resilient and recover well from this latest loss! I feel for her and all of you there and us in the community! We all love to watch these youngsters grow, flourish and hopefully become independent. My condolences and warm wishes go out to all!

  12. Dave, thanks for the well written article – as Hlaba Nkunzi and her Cubs only deserve the best!

    She’s an Incredible animal and so were both her cubs. It was a privilege being able to follow her and both cubs on a daily basis – this is a huge loss.
    Can only hope that Hlaba Nkunzi has a new litter soon, with her being around Leopard Hills a lot more – hopefully this will become their ‘home’ when she has cubs again.

    Looking forward to the new Chapter..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *