In the South Luangwa National Park in the area surrounding Shenton Safaris camps we have a well-known female leopard we call Malika. We have been lucky with her over the years and she’s given us great sightings of her cubs. In 2014 she had a little girl. Guests from both Kaingo Camp and Mwamba Bush Camp enjoyed numerous sightings of the pair during the season. One in particular we fondly remember.
During a morning game drive out of Kaingo we were driving towards Pelican Lagoon when the guide, Sly, noticed a drag mark going across the dirt road. This was Malika’s territory and 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 was near.
After a few minutes 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, either 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, proudly dragging with her a very small puku. It was amazing to see the strength of such a small leopard!
It was soon clear what we were witnessing was a lesson 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 a 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 the tree, she climbed back down to mum as if to tell her what she had done, but much to our amusement the puku then fell from the branch and landed right beside the mother and cub on the ground.
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 puku snack.