With all the adult leopards prowling about, one would never think that a cat as old as Karula would still be in good breeding condition. I suppose that, in the animal kingdom, if a leopard is still healthy and in good shape, it can still produce offspring regardless of age.
The few of you who do not know Karula, she is one of the oldest females alive today (in our part of Sabi Sands anyway) and possibly one of the most successfully bred, given her age and current descendants.
To our knowledge, Karula has never been witnessed in poor health and we have not seen any hair-raising conflicts with rival females – partially because most of the females in the area are her daughters.
Other than hunting impala and looking for water; the raising of two cubs has kept Karula busy during the past five months. So far, we have had the great fortune of watching these cubs grow (when we are able to see them, of course); looking stronger and more full of themselves at each sighting. It’s quite an adoring thing to see a mother with her young cub, but to watch two cubs as they squabble over a warthog, or hang in mock-desperation from a low tree branch, is something of a unique experience.
These two cubs, well into their fifth month of age, are Karula’s first “litter” since December 2014 when a sighting of her and her cubs during a morning game drive took a turn for the bitter and her cub was lost.
To touch up on a bit of Karula’s descending line, we can make the obvious assumption that her new cubs are Tingaan’s, seeing as they have been seen mating on numerous occasions, and with Tingaan having chased Mvula, the other older dominant male, from the area. In 2004, Karula had birthed two females: Shadow and Thandi, who were sired by Jordaan. After these two grew, she again mated with Jordaan and produced Nduna, Misho and Xivambalan. After Jordaan’s death, Karula then mated with Mvula and gave birth to Kunyuma and Quarantine.
Other than the loss of the two cubs in 2014, Karula has had a very successful cub survival rate. Her grown offspring are still very much alive and are often sighted in the area, with Shadow, Thandi and Quarantine being seen most often.
This year, our first sighting of her with her new babes took place in Vuyatela, after which they then moved around, being left at their temporary densite while their mother hunted. They have been located on various kills already, and are providing some of the most incredible sightings to our guests and guides.