Everybody loves leopards! And the Luangwa Valley in Zambia is one of the best places in Africa to spot these majestic felines.
The eye catching spots that they adorn are not merely there for decoration, these cats can blend into the bush like a zebra blends into the ebony and ivory of a grand piano. Even with a healthy population of spotted cats, finding them is incredibly difficult! When you do catch a glimpse of them, it’s sometimes just a hypnotic swish of a tail or a distracting flick of an ear that catches your eye and we can only assume that there is an actual leopard attached to this …
I have watched people sit with binoculars glued to their eyes, staring at a lead-wood (combretum imberbe) tree 300meters away from the road and then getting very excited when the cat in the tree flicks its tail, because that is the only part of the spotted-feline they can see. Here at Wildlife Camp (one of Nomad’s favourite camping sites) for example, whenever a baboon gives the slightest alarm call from his roosting spot, every torch around camp goes on in an instant, shining onto the short grass next to the river where the leopards so love to hunt.
The cooks run from the kitchen and the barmen stop washing glasses. Even Boo, our trusty camp-dog runs towards the door and sticks her nose into the cool evening breeze outside. It is as if Dora, Herman, Retha and all 6 of our watchmen (I do not for one moment exclude myself from this list) sit waiting, torches ready by their sides, for a hint of an alarm snort by an impala or a bark from a baboon. And all this just to get a glimpse of a leopard. Even with our well-oiled leopard spotting system in place, we very often only see impalas running about frantically, leaping high into the air to avoid being caught by a cat that they can clearly see, but we can’t.
So, when you find three leopards in one tree (yes, it was a lead-wood tree, but only meters from the road) you have to award that moment the best moment of the month! A mother and her two cubs (one male, one female) had an impala kill (they are not frantic about leopards for nothing) in a tree with a lone hyena waiting below. We were able to spend two magical hours with them. Whether it was two of them fighting over the final scraps, the young female walking right past the hyena on her way to a drink, or all of them characteristically lying around in the tree, it was magic all the time and a great way to start our safaris for 2013!
Leopard cubs are usually weaned at about 3 months but they remain in contact with the mother for up to eighteen months. Both these cubs are reaching an age where they will start hunting for themselves and sightings like these (with this specific female called Alice) will not continue for much longer. But there is good news! I have seen the mom with a large male from a neighbouring area – we might have three-in-a-tree once again in the near future!
We look forward to welcoming you at Wildlife Camp in South Luangwa, Zambia. Join Nomad on any of the tours below and we will guarantee you that South Luangwa will stick out as one of your ultimate tour higlights! And that’s whether you see the leopards or not. We always have something interesting to share with you.
East African Adventure – North
Vic Falls & Malawi – North
East African Adventure Tour – South
Vic Falls and Malawi – North
Best of Africa
Cape Town to Nairobi
Johannesburg to Nairobi
Delta to Dar es Salaam
Contact Nomad Adventure Tours on firstname.lastname@example.org or (+27) 21 426 5445 for more information on these tours.
All images above are the property of Wildlife Camp, South Luangwa. Photographer: Conrad T Cooke. Copyright Reserved.