NAME: Cameron Appel
DIARY ENTRIES: 10
PHOTOS UPLOADED: 18
VIDEOS UPLOADED: 0
CURRENT COMPANY: Ranger Diaries
First question: I’m sure you’ve never seen those two words in the same title before, have you?
Second question: How many of you have seen a leap of leopards?
Nature is awkward sometimes. Like trying to solve a rubrics cube while on a Twister board, maneuvering yourself in such positions while your hands are occupied can be challenging.
This, however, is exactly what a leap of leopards can look like!
A leap of leopards would best be described as 3 or more individuals occurring together in the same space. Many guides have seen female leopards with 2 cubs, or been lucky enough to see 2 female leopards with bisecting territories, being proposition by a single philandering male.
However, what if I told you, that 2 male leopards – notably son and father – once mated with the same female as happily as noticing that there is enough cake left for everyone, after taking an enormously big slice yourself!
I’m not entirely sure how the Xidulu Female felt about this situation. The Manyelti Male was kind of the ‘George Clooney’ of Londolozi… old yet refined, wise and gentle.
The Short-tail Male was kind of exhausting the ‘Ashton Kutcher’ vibe… sexy with a rebellious touch, yet struggling to mature in a competitive climate.
The Xidulu Female was the Nikky Hilton of a famous group of leopards. Her mother, the Sunsetbend Female, was being photographed and exploited like a Kardashian across the boundary while her sister, the Vomba Female, was playfully shy and gorgeous, but very popular and comfortable in front of cameras.
Digressing slightly, I have broken one of the many guiding rules with my descriptions above!
“Don’t humanize animals, Cameron!” I remember Graham Vercueil’s words echoing across Inkwasi.
I apologies for this transgression, however, in an environment where leopards are viewed every day, it’s hard not to give them personalities, especially in scenarios such as this.
The situation being portrayed to my guests was one as such…
Three leopards laying happily in the grass. Female leopard purrs slightly, rolls on her back and then rises, tail flicking and fur twitching. Only to realize she's got two choices… George Clooney or Ashton Kutcher. The two males look at each other, the Manyaleti Male rises and begins mating proceedings with the Xidulu Female. The Short-tail Male watches on, and when growling has ended and the female has delivered a fairly well placed paw across the Manyaleti Male's face, the Short-tail Male saunts over and mates happily with the female, while the Manyaleti Male lies close by - almost next to - without so much as a snarl.
I am aware of how confusing it is to portray this tale and trust me, it’s even more confusing to explain to your on-board guests!
“What are they doing?” came one response.
“Leopard Twister!” I replied.
“No seriously, are they all males?” exclaimed the guest.
My response to which was.... tricky. “I should hope not! The female is either in estrus, or found herself in a difficult situation with two boyfriends, and is using sex to get out of it!”
Chuckles resounded across the safari vehicle.
To be honest, my only response could have be one of humour, because I was unsure of what was going on here myself.
Simon and I discussed it, and our conclusion was that the males might have both been aware that they were father and son, and therefore had no issue with delivering a good set of Hollywood genes into the Londolozi females. Leopards sometimes do not use aggressive responses to get out of tough situations, being a single predator with much to lose in the survival of the fittest game. Perhaps the female was just ‘projecting’… because her sister and mother were more popular!
I’m not sure we’ll ever know, but it was a sighting I'll never forget.