Sitting on the game drive vehicle we watch as a lioness leads her cubs to a kill. She tucks in herself, hungry after the hunt, but not too greedily that the cubs don’t get their share. In that moment I reflect back to other bush experiences. Never is a mother’s love and protective instinct as evident as seen in the African bushveld.
A Leopard’s Mothering Instinct
I can remember once tracking leopard for hours in the bush. We bumped along through thickets and river beds. She didn’t appear to be in a hurry and we followed at a distance. The guide recognized her and mentioned that she had two small cubs. It was likely she was on the hunt. Eventually we left her and went in search of other game. But my mind stayed on her. Where had she hidden her cubs? Would they be safe until she returned? Would she be successful in her hunt and be able to provide for her family? It seems life in the bush is always precarious, even as a predator.
This was brought home to me this past week when I read of the passing of a well known leopard of the Sabi Sands. The Ravenscourt female was a much loved leopard in the Singita Private Reserve area. Reading the comments and tributes to “Lady Ravenscourt” on social media brought a lump to my throat. Was she the leopard I once followed through the bush? Who patiently put up with our presence? If so, it’s a memory that I will cherish even more.
The Ravenscourt leopardess was an icon in the Sabi Sands. And she died, it seemed, fulfilling her motherly instinct to protect her young. She’d been defending her cub against a male leopard. Reportedly putting up a gallant flight. In a touching tribute, the last photograph taken of her was not of her bruised and battered injuries. But rather of a butterfly that came to rest on her coat as she breathed her last. The circle of life continues. Her legacy as an iconic leopard will live on in the memories of those who knew her.
This is the story of Africa. It’s these special moments and encounters that stay forever etched in your memory. You may come to Africa a lawyer, IT expert, or high powered exec. But you leave as someone who has experienced Africa, wild and raw. It’s not just the sightings of lions or leopards, or the drama of seeing a kill. But rather the more subtle family interactions of the animals that create very special memories. Visit Africa and experience it for yourself.