Leopards the near perfect hunters of the jungles are solitary and shy cats. To spend time with these beautiful animals has been a dream for me. Imagine my joy when I got to spend a whole day with a Leopard mother and her 3-month cub in Jungles of Botswana.
We were on safari at Khwai ,when our guide Jack said Kingfishers, which was the code for Predators. The excited occupants of the jeep asked him if it was the spotted kingfishers that climb trees? by the time he answered we saw a few jeeps at the spot . From a distance I could see some movement inside a bush against what looked like a big rock. Imagine my happiness when I realized it was a leopard but then there was more to it then just a Leopard when we got closer I saw that it was not a rock but a dead giraffe and the movement was that of a small cub running all over while his mother was trying to break the skin of the dead giraffe.
This leopard mom had found this oversized gift but then she was not able to open up the belly of the giraffe. For her it was a case of “food,food everywhere but not a morsel to eat”. She was desperate to open up and have her fill, as she knew that soon the smell of death would attract hyenas and lions. Once they arrive she would have to abandon this place and move to a safe distance to protect her small cub.
Meanwhile her young one oblivious to his mother’s tenseness was having a field day running all over the giraffe. He used to pose on the Giraffe proudly and we felt that he was showing off his mother’s kill and telling us what he and his mother could achieve together. He was getting into the mouth of the giraffe and trying to nibble at whatever he could.
We decided to stay put and spend time with the mother son duo. In the time we spent with them we witnessed some amazing mother cub interaction. Also we witnessed how even the very shy leopard starts trusting humans when she does not perceive threat to herself or to her young one. In fact she left her cub near our jeep and went to investigate some noise and the cub was with us alone for nearly 15 minutes.
At one time while the mother was busy trying to break the skin of the Giraffe the little one wandered away and when the mother realized he was not around she started calling out but the small guy did not respond and eventually she had to go looking for him. When she did find him she first admonished him then as all mothers do she nuzzled him and showed extreme kindness.
The Scolding firstThen the Love
We left them in the evening when other vehicles started arriving . They were still trying to figure a way to eat.
The next morning we heard that a pair of lions had taken over the dead giraffe. Felt sorry for the young mother who had tried everything in her power to open the Giraffe. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have witnessed this drama in the wild.
All photos from the trip