Yesterday morning we were awoken to the sounds of monkeys chattering and issuing alarm calls around the Lodge, little did we know….…”The legend was returning”
Gary left on the morning drive and almost immediately bumped into the Hlaba Nkunzi Female Leopard heading straight back to towards the Lodge.
For those of you who are avid readers of the Leopard Hills Blog, you will know the Hlaba Nkunzi moved away from this area with her remaining cub when the Nomadic Male Leopard moved through and killed her other youngster, she moved east and we have not seen her in and about the Lodge since.
AT 06h30 Gary radioed me to say she was lying on the outdoor shower wall of Suite 5. Amazingly Gary had managed to get pictures of her lying on exactly the same shower wall three years ago when she had just become independent of her mother, the legendary Makwela.
Hlaba Nkunzi had left her youngster at the causeway across the Mabrak River, not far from the Lodge, and was on the hunt into familiar territory. She climbed down from her vantage point and walk straight up the path from the Suites toward the Reception area. I stood in the open Reception watching her approach, such a familiar sight to see her in and around the Lodge again, memories of her and her mother came to me, such times as we found her in the gym on the treadmill one morning before drive, or the time she was lying on the roof of Suite 8 with her two cubs at sunset while we were on the main deck having sun downers, special memories that I will never forget.
She walked towards me again, fully aware I was there and stopped 5 metres away staring at me, how many time have we done this over the years. She lifted her head and smelled the air and then lowered her head as she started calling, the rasping sawing sound that reverberated around the rocky outcrop where the main building of the Lodge is situated. Chills ran down my spine and “goose bumps” rose on my forearms, she was back and she was letting everyone know she was “home”.
We watched each other for a while until she lost interest and moved past me up the walkway to the lower pool deck, up onto the main dining area deck and past Suite 8 into the rocks beyond, calling as she went.
We thought it would be fun to post those pictures of Hlaba Nkunzi taken three years ago and then the ones of her taken yesterday morning. What has changed, she is just as beautiful as ever, she is just three years wiser and is looking more and more like her mother as time goes on…………………welcome home to a legend.
Thanks Gary for the pictures.