Leopards of Arathusa

Leopard and cubs at Arathusa Safari Lodge

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Guests visiting Arathusa Safari Lodge are treated to a wildlife experience that is second to none, with sightings of rhino, buffalo, lion, elephant and plains game in abundance.

But there is one animal that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that is the leopard.

Known locally as ‘ingwe’ – which means ‘pure sovereignty’ – these solitary animals are one of the lodge’s main attractions.

Arathusa is located in the middle of the northern part of the Sabi Sand Reserve. Our traversing area in this region incorporates the territories of about thirteen leopards that are seen on a regular basis, as well as several others that we come across less frequently. This concentration of leopards is extremely unique, and makes Arathusa Safari Lodge one of the best places in the world to view them.

Of the many leopards you’re likely to encounter whilst staying at Arathusa, these individuals are what we refer to as ‘habituated’. This means that they are used to game vehicles, and do not feel threatened by the presence of them. This, however, has taken years of respectful and considerate behaviour on the part of the highly qualified rangers driving the area. Due to the relaxed nature of these leopards, Arathusa has made a name for itself as the top chosen destination of many photographers.

There is nothing quite like capturing the beauty of these magnificent animals on camera. And our adept and knowledgeable rangers will not only share their outstanding leopard knowledge with you, they will also ensure that you get close enough to take your shot.

A number of the rangers are also avid photographers themselves, and are more than happy to assist in any way possible in order for you to capture that perfect photo.

Some advice for the aspirant photographer

  • You don’t need a top of the range camera with all the bells and whistles, rather bring one that you are familiar with.
  • Although a DSLR of some form is preferable, some of the better quality ‘point and shoot’ cameras will also suffice.
  • You also don’t need to buy the most expensive lens, a 300mm zoom is more than adequate.
  • Bring a laptop so that you can download your shots every evening.
  • If you don’t have a laptop, do ensure that you have enough memory cards. The last you need is to find yourself in the middle of a photographer’s paradise on a ‘space’ budget .

We hope to see you here soon, so we can share with you what we have the privilege of living with every single day. You won’t be disappointed!

Below is a brief introduction to each of the leopards we regularly see. Leopards are identified by using spot patterns on either side of their face, usually on the first row of spots by the whiskers.

Female leopard, Kwatile

Female leopard, Kwatile

Kwatile (Angry)

  • Spot pattern 2-2
  • Southern territorial female
  • Born June 2007
  • Kwatile is the last remaining cub of Ntima. She is now the Southern neighbour of her mother. Kwatile is a beautiful young female, with lots of growing still to do. She is an awesome hunter and we witnessed her killing a full grown adult male impala when she was only 14 months old! She had a young male cub that was fathered by Emsagwen, but since he was killed and Lamula moved into the area, the cub has been killed. We have seen her mating a few times now with Lamula and so we are waiting to see if she will have new cubs soon.
Male leopard at Arathusa Safari Lodge

Mafufunyane – male leopard by Brendon Cremer

Mafufunyane (means the aggressive one)

  • Territorial male of the central region
  • Born in November 1997 – Died late 2011
  • Father to Salayexe and Karula
  • Spot pattern is 4/3
Male leopard at Arathusa Safari Lodge

Tyson – Male leopard by Brendon Cremer

Tyson

  • Territorial male of the western region
  • Born in 2001
  • Father to Nsele and Rhulani
  • Spot pattern is 3/2

emsagwen

Emsagwen

  • Territorial male of the south-eastern region
  • Born in 2003 – Died late 2011
  • He moved to Arathusa from the Kruger National Park
  • Spot pattern is 4/6
Arathusa Safari Lodge - Female leopard

Safari – Female leopard by Ryan Johnston

Safari (named after Safari Lodge)

  • Very old nomadic female of the central region, she is the second oldest living leopard in the reserve
  • Born in March 1993 – Died late 2011
  • Mother to Karula, grandmother to Thandi and Shadow, and she is now also a great grandmother
  • Spot pattern 3/2 and blind in her right eye
Arathusa Safari Lodge - Leopard

Karula – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Karula (means the peaceful one)

  • Female of the north-east region
  • Born in February 2004
  • Mother to Thandi and Shadow, daughter of Safari
  • Spot pattern is 3/4
Female leopard, Shadow, by Ryan Johnston

Female leopard, Shadow, by Ryan Johnston

Shadow

  • Female of the central region
  • Born in February 2007
  • Mother to 1 cub (born September 2010), daughter of Karula
  • Spot pattern is 3/4
Arathusa Safari Lodge - Leopard

Thandi – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Thandi

  • Territorial female of the far east region
  • Born February 2007 (litter mate of Shadow)
  • Mother to +- 2 cubs (born January 2011), daughter of Karula
  • Spot pattern is 3/3

Female leopard (Ntima)

Ntima (means the dark one)

  • Territorial female of the south-east region
  • Born in 1997
  • Mother to Ostrich Kopjies and Kwatile (not seen regularly), daughter of Ngoboswane female
  • Spot pattern is 2/2
Female leopard on Arathusa Safari Lodge

Salayexe – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Salayexe (means the lonely one)

  • Territorial female of the west
  • Born 2005
  • Mother to Nsele and Rhulani, daughter of Saseka
  • Spot pattern is 4/3

Male leopard Mvula - Ryan Johnston

Mvula (name means water or rain)

  • Eastern territorial male
  • Born in 2004
  • Spot pattern is 4/3

Mvula has grown into a massive male in the last few years, and as a result has managed to take over a large territory. And with the disappearance of Emsagwen his territory has become even larger. He is the father of Thandi’s cub and we have also seen him mating with a few other females, including the Ostrich-Kopjies female. He is an extremely relaxed leopard and often spoils us with great sightings and good photographic opportunities.

Arathusa Safari Lodge - Leopard

Ostrich Kopjies – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Ostrich Koppies female

  • Territorial female of the south-east
  • Born in 2005
  • Mother to 1 sub-adult (born mid 2010), daughter of Ntima
  • Spot pattern is 4/3
Female leopard at Arathusa Safari Lodge

Nsele – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Nsele Female leopard (means no sympathy)

  • Sub-adult female, recently independent
  • Born in 2009
  • Litter mates with Rhulani, daughter of Salayexe
  • Spot pattern is 4/3
Female leopard at Arathusa Safari Lodge

Rhulani – Female leopard by Brendon Cremer

Rhulani (means relaxed)

  • Sub-adult male, recently independent
  • Born in 2009
  • Litter mates with Nsele, son of Salayexe
  • Spot pattern is 3/3
Jordaan - Male leopard by Ryan Johnston

Jordaan – Male leopard by Ryan Johnston

Jordaan

  • Territorial male of the north-east
  • Born in +- 2002
  • Possible father to Mixo, Induna and Karula’s 2 cubs (now 4-5 months old)
  • Spot pattern is 3/3