The Xigera leopards are spectacular. Leopards, generally, are notoriously difficult to find. They tend to be shy and skittish until they feel comfortable in the proximity of the game drive vehicles and then they relax and provide wonderful viewing opportunities. The hard thing in any area is to get the first leopard to behave in this way. At Xigera, that leopard is Madiphala, a beautiful female and a very successful raiser of cubs.
Without intense pressure from other predators, as has been the case in the past at Xigera, she has managed to raise successive litters of cubs. Mainly just a single cub each time and, as luck would have it, these have been females. The litter before her current one, she managed to raise a male and female cub to adulthood and we all thought that would be her last in spite of how well she looked for her age. So it was quite a surprise to us a few weeks ago to find her with yet another young cub. Madiphala means ‘the impala killer’ which she has had to do to feed her various cubs – she is a legend at Xigera.
One of her first female cubs is called Mothalipula, meaning ‘she who came with the rain’, because she was first seen as a young cub in February. She is our Lodge leopard and often makes her presence felt around here. Before the old camp came down she would often cross the bridge either during the night or in broad daylight.
A while ago she killed a bushbuck in the camp and brought in her young cub to feed on it. We had to stop building in that area until we were able to take her kill to an area just away from the camp, where she could finish it and leave us to carry on building.
I often hear her calling in the camp during the night and we are all hopeful that she will be successful in raising this cub.
Madiphala’s last litter was a young male and a female - we had no name for the young male but the guides named the young female Maorotwa, ‘the beloved one’. She has settled in an area to the west of the camp and is still finding her feet in the leopard world. She is not a big leopard but punches way above her weight. A few days ago she killed a male sitatunga, quite a feat for a young leopard.
All of these leopards are comfortable with the vehicles and we see them regularly – they are a joy to be with.