It’s been over 40 years since Londolozi first viewed the original Mother Leopard, a young female who for some reason was more relaxed around the Land rovers than her predecessors or conspecifics on the reserve at the time.
For the next decade, Londolozi co-founder and Tracker Elmon Mhlongo would follow her life, watching as she raised no fewer than 9 litters of cubs to independence; a feat that has not been recorded in a leopardess since.
The early years at Londolozi did not feature leopards as part of the standard viewing on a game drive. Conflict with man over the course of the previous half-century had made them skittish, wary, and extremely distrustful of anything unnatural in their environment, which included vehicles and people on foot.
Tracks in the sand, the remains of a kill stashed high in a tree or even a fleeting glimpse in the spotlight after dark were all the evidence the early visitors to Londolozi had of this elusive predator.
Yet when the Mother Leopard arrived and allowed people into her secret world, all that changed. Her cubs grew up recognising that a Land Rover parked at a respectful distance was neither a threat nor a food source, and their cubs in turn did the same. From that first female came generations and a subsequent dynasty of habituated leopards, which quickly put Londolozi on the map as the place to view them; a reputation it continues to enjoy to this day.
Not only does Londolozi currently sit in the heart of the densest leopard population yet recorded in Africa, with the bulk of the cats completely ignoring the presence of the game drive vehicles, but the rangers and trackers – many of whom have lived and worked on the land for decades – have an intimate knowledge of most of the individuals.
Life-histories, relatedness, matrilines, territories… it has all been recorded in one of the most closely documented records of a leopard population known on the African continent.
Although there is no such thing as a guarantee in the African bush, Londolozi is as near as can be going to provide leopard viewing the likes of which you’ve never experienced before. The almost supernatural skill of the Londolozi trackers and rangers is almost certain to give you front row seats to what has to be some of the greatest wildlife sightings on earth, with the enigmatic leopard more than likely taking centre stage.
It’s an experience that has guests returning year after year to follow the lives of these magnificent cats, and one that is certain to redefine the way you view the symbiosis between man and wild…