I only half-heartedly believed him when his voice turned into an excited hiss saying: “Go back, go back, it’s a leopard!”
In what can only be described as an incredible stroke of safari luck, guests at Robin Pope Safaris’ Mkulumadzi Lodge were recently treated to a fantastically rare sighting of a leopard and her cubs in the Majete Wildlife Reserve.
In 2012, a small population of leopards were reintroduced into the Majete Wildlife Reserve as part of the final phase of the park’s predator introduction programme. These were the first leopards to make their home in Majete for nearly two decades and made Majete the first official Big 5 reserve in Malawi. This was not only a huge success for conservation in the area, but also an added tourist attraction which was hoped would encourage more wildlife tourism to Malawi. Strikingly beautiful, but also shy and elusive by nature, a sighting of them is always a very exciting experience.
Erik from Mkulumadzi shares a little more about his sighting:
“Last week my guests and I were tremendously lucky to spot one of Majete’s true rarities: A princess of darkness, the African leopard. Driving back towards the lodge after watching yet another beautiful Malawian sunset, our apprentice guide Mali, shined the spotlight into the bush in search of all sorts of elusive creatures of the night.
“I only half-heartedly believed him when his voice turned into an excited hiss saying: ‘Go back, go back, it’s a leopard!’ He pointed the spotlight towards a bush where I expected to see a genet or civet, knowing that Mali had only ever seen leopards on TV and in books. My disbelief was displaced when I laid eyes on a beautiful female leopard peering at us through a leafless bush in the dark.
“My heart started beating fast. I was so overjoyed to finally lay my eyes on one of Majete’s leopards. My heart then started racing when I saw what was moving around just on the periphery of the light beam. Cubs! Two of them! The mother got up and walked back towards the bush. She did not appear to be stressed or worried about our presence but still didn’t want her little cubs to be playing around this strange object that sounded like a chattering group of excited monkeys. They slipped soundlessly into the night, leaving us awestruck. For the apprentice, Mali, and some of the guests, it had been their first leopard sighting ever. And for me it was my first time to see one here in Majete.
“Finally seeing one was a huge reward though. The population is obviously growing and in this safe haven that Majete is to them, the future is looking bright. Everyday they get a little more used to our presence and over time they will start sharing their secret lives and habits with us. I’m sure of it.”