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.