A Volunteer's Perspective: Ari Whiteman's Blog on Mating Leopards

By Ari Whiteman, Karongwe Intern 5 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

Its been a busy and exciting few days here at Karongwe as a cold front has moved in. Less heat in the middle of the day has meant lots of activity for pretty much anything with fur or feathers and even more activity for the staff and volunteers busily recording their behaviour. Over the last week we’ve seen everything from elephant bulls fighting in the road to lions roaring right next to the vehicle. However yesterday produced one of the rarest and most exciting sightings of the winter thus far, as we were fortunate enough to watch Tsavo, one of our big male leopards, mate with Treacle, one of Karongwe’s resident females. Though the drive to Tsavo’s signal required some serious off-roading, the reward of seeing two leopards in the same frame was well worth the scratches from overhead buffalo thorns and acacias. We sat, shutters snapping, in amazement as we witnessed the rituals surrounding leopard mating. It was surprising how violent the process was, and while serious injury can be a common result of big cats mating, it was still a bit shocking to see in person. The two leopards will continue to mate on and off for the next few days, likely affording us the opportunity to gather even more data on such a scarcely seen event.

Overall though, it was an amazing sighting last night, one that many of us have already added to our list of personal favourites. Unfortunately, we could not stay with the two beautiful leopards forever, as there was still work to be done (if you can call tracking wild lions “work”). Hopefully in a few months we’ll start to see fluffy little leopard cubs in Treacle’s company!

Since I’m new here, I would briefly like to take the chance to introduce myself. My name is Ari Whiteman. I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in biology from the United States and I’ll be here at Karongwe for at least the next three months as a long term intern. I’m beyond excited to be here contributing to such amazing research and I look forward to filling you guys in on our adventures again soon!