Ranger’s Diary – a mother’s tale by Ranger Calton Hartig

At Arathusa Safari Lodge we’ve had the privilege of hosting a fabulous leopardess, Xidulu, for some time now and together with our online community enjoyed seeing her raise two cubs. Leopards can have up to three cubs in a litter, but unfortunately the mortality rate can be more than 50 per cent for these young ones.

Xidulu and her two cubs
Xidulu & her two cubs

Xidulu had seemingly been a great first time mother, raising both her cubs to the age of about six months before a rival leopardess from a neighbouring territory had picked up on her and her cub’s movements. The result was brutal. As Xidulu and her cubs were making their way back from a kill, the rival female Moyo coming from nowhere made a swift dash from the long grass and delivered a fatal bite to one of Xidulu’s cubs. 

Though unexpected, this is not an unusual occurrence in the wild. Leopards, lions and most other larger carnivores are all in competition, and if the situation presents itself they will take the opportunity to get rid of any competition.  Of course it was a sad moment for us (and all that followed Xidulu’s journey), but it is not all gloom and doom. As there is now only one cub to raise, Xidulu can focus on teaching it everything it will need to be a stealthy hunting machine. Also, as there’s now less competition for food, this will increase the odds of the remaining cub making it to adulthood. So as the saying goes, there is always a silver lining…  We’ll just have to wait and see what more nature has in store. 

Xidulu with her remaining cub
Xidulu with her remaining cub

Until next time.

Word: Ranger Calton Hartig
Images: Rangers of Arathusa Safari Lodge

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