The Circle of life is complete

Posted on January 27, 2010

The heavy rain has not only brought life to the vegetation, it has delivered un unexpected visitor home to introduce us to her next generation.

As the dark clouds issued a deluge of rain down on the Lodge, lightening lit up the African sky, a shadow emerged from the bushes, silently it crept forward into the dim glow of the Lodge lights, and there she stood, the Hlaba Nkunzi Female Leopard, with the smallest bundle of wet dripping fur hanging from her mouth, a new born cub. She moved forward again, into the bright lights now, unfazed by her surroundings, she was on a mission, and knew exactly where she was going and wanted to be. The setting was surreal, another flash of lightening followed by a roll of thunder, natures drum beat announcing her arrival. She stood in the Reception area, pondering her next move for just a moment, droplets of water running off her silky coat onto the floor. The cub still hanging from her mouth, wet but uncomplaining, as though it could sense its mother had found a place to call home.

It doesn‘t seem long ago at all that Hlaba Nkuzi’s mother, Makwela, walked into Camp with her dangling from her mouth, like mother like daughter, the cycle is complete.

We are not sure as to how many cubs she has at this stage as she has stashed them under the deck of the Gym, time will tell. We have to give this area a wide berth, now I have a justifiable excuse not to go to Gym, as we do not want to disturb her or the cubs.

Since we opened our doors nearly 13 years ago, Makwela has been bringing her various litters of cubs into Leopard Hills, with almost an expectation that they will be safe here, and we must in some way “baby” sit them while she was out hunting. As a cub herself, the Hlaba Nkunzi female spend many a day and night in and around the Lodge, it is a place she knows and loves well.

There is a constant chattering of Vervet Monkeys at the front of the Lodge every time they spot her moving around, but this gives us a pre warning as to when she is coming and going. She has chosen her spot well, with heavy rain during the night, she has found a comfortable warm secluded spot where the cubs will be safe, and it is indeed a privilege for us that she has chosen Leopard Hills as her Sanctuary.

We will keep you posted as soon as we know exactly how many cubs she has, but bear with us, we first need to give her some space and time to settle down, after all, this is her home, not ours!!

28 thoughts on “The Circle of life is complete

  1. I agree with Ceri.
    Makwela`s spirit will always be around…

    Beautiful written! "Like Mother, like daughter".. This is so touching to read!
    Thank you!

  2. Duncan what a wonderful, delightful dynasty of leopards … now the next generation will grow up to feel safe at the LH lodge, and no doubt the staff and visitors will grow to love them. You are truly blessed to have such a spectacular leopard bringing her young to safety. She must know you well. Look forward to the updates on her offspring.

  3. This is wonderful news…The 1st time we saw Hlaba Nkunzi, she was only about 10 weeks old. Now she has a little one of her own & I am sure she is going to be as good a mom as Makwela was, who must be looking down on her…& feeling very proud!!


  4. Awesome article Dunx, while reading this I felt like I was standing in the storm. The circle of life continues and we are blessed to be witness to this.Please write a book even if it’s just for me!

  5. What an amazing story and fabulous news!
    Duncan you write so well. I am excited for you all and only wish we had been there to share the experience. Happy memories of Leopard Hills.

  6. Duncan, was this during the storm last night, 26/27 Jan? In any case, how awesome to have the cats right there where you can see them. Many thanks for this piece of writing.

  7. Lucky you! Thank you for sharing. That is great news. I hope she finds it as welcoming & safe as her mother did & continues to bring her cubs to the property for many years to come!

  8. Lucky you! Thank you for sharing. That is great news. I hope she finds it as welcoming & safe as her mother did & continues to bring her cubs to the property for many years to come!

  9. Thank you Duncan, for writhing such a wonderful tribute to Makwela and now her wonderful daughter and her cubs. I can’t wait (and I know you will give them the needed time) for pictures and information about the cubs…all in due time. I miss LH!

  10. Superb Duncan, both the event and the narration. What a wonderful moment to witness. Leopard cubs and Makwela’s grandchildren at that… certainly makes a compelling case for a return visit sooner rather than later!
    As always, wishing I was at LH. Hope to see you all soon.

  11. From Michelle the Redhead
    Duncan – move over Wilbur Smith!! Great writing Duncan, and my Makwela is proudly mounted in my office with Hlaba Nkunzi as a cub, so I am thrilled the spirit of Makwela lives on…!! Please keep us posted and I can’t wait to see her again in April – YIPEEE!!! Make sure your wonderful team protects those youngsters!

  12. Oh Wow! Oh Wow! Oh Wow!!!! This is such a beautiful beginning! and so well told, Duncan. Can’t wait until August to see her and her jongens.
    Joy, Camarillo, CA

  13. We cant wait, oh and by the way there is going to be a tribute to makwela in our library soon, watch this space.


  14. Dunx,

    When you write articles like this one it makes it seems like our next trip is years away and time goes slowly. Thanks for the memories.

    Chopped Liver

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