South Luangwa Leopard in Training

In the South Luangwa National Park in the area surrounding Shenton Safaris camps we have a well-known female leopard we call Malika. During our 2014 season she had a cub, a little girl. Our guests from both Kaingo Camp and Mwamba Bush Camp enjoyed numerous sightings of the pair throughout the season. One in particular we fondly remember.

During a morning game drive out of Kaingo we were driving towards Pelican Lagoon when our guide Sly noticed a drag mark going across the dirt road. This was Malika’s territory so we were hopeful for a leopard sighting and stopped to examine the spoor. Our guests were getting quite excited with all the clues. It seemed Malika could be near.

After a few minutes of scanning our surroundings we clapped eyes on the beautiful Malika relaxing under a tree, but there was no sign of the kill. We assumed she must have it stashed somewhere, possibly up a tree or under a bush. Naturally we then started to ask ourselves where the cub was.

Our questions were quickly answered when we heard a rustling in the bushes closely followed by the cub. She was proudly dragging with her a very small puku. It was amazing to see the strength of such a small leopard! It was soon clear that what we were witnessing was her being given a lesson by Malika in how to hide and stash a kill to keep it safe from other predators and scavengers.

With Malika relaxing under a tree keeping a watchful eye on her little one, the cub proceeded to drag the small carcass up this tree. It seemed this was the first lesson she had in such activities judging by the sequence that followed. After she had placed the carcass in this tree, she would then climb back down to mum as if to tell her what she had done, but much to our amusement the puku would then fall from the branch and land right beside the mother and cub on the ground with a thud!

The fourth time this happened, with our guests holding back their giggles at this adorable sighting, it seemed Malika and an exhausted baby had both had quite enough training for one day and proceeded to eat the snack she provided for them.