Leopard Cubs: Keisha's Mom
Shot at Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa in May 2009 with the Canon 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f/4 and 70-200/2.8.
My first visit to Mala Mala was in 2009. This camp is the largest private property in Sabi Sands and is well known for it's leopard sightings; i.e. up to 20 in single visit. And because there's a river running through the property and the camp is adjacent to Krueger National Park to the East, the area attracts a lot of wildlife. Mala Mala is where I learned to track from the rangers; i.e., looking for prints and clues while studying common and individual behaviors.
And, it was the first time that I set eyes on the gorgeous Kikilezi leopard female. She was Keisha's Mom and also known as Kiki. On this visit, Kiki was hanging out with a sub-adult cub who was long overdue in becoming independent. I was lucky to see Kiki on 5 more visits where she reigned as the matriach and successfully raised many cubs to adulthood.
Leopards meander between camps and over at Londolozi camp to the West, Kiki was known as the Xidulu female. Kiki was the daughter of the Ngoboswan female who I got to see as well. Ngoboswan was legendary because she was very relaxed with vehicles and even liked to pose. This behavior was thankfully passed on to Kiki; unlike with her sisters, the Tamboti and Campbell Koppies females. Kiki's last litter of twins were born in May 2016 and one surviving cub, the Three Rivers female, is gorgeous as well.
Another daughter, the beautiful Sibuye female born in Dec. 2013, also is a successful Mom and has the most adorable twins - born late August/early Sept. 2019 - at Mala Mala or a nearby camp. I haven't had the privilege of seeing this family and probably never will because this mom meanders between camps. Check out the Sibuye Female Leopard page on Facebook to follow this leopard.
Kiki's other daughter, who I nicknamed Keisha and is formally known as the Emsagweni female, had twins at the same time as Kiki in May 2016; but unfortunately, they didn't make it. But good news - 2 of the 3 cubs from Keisha's Nov. 2017 litter, both males, are doing well and are already independent.
Sadly, Kiki passed away in May 2017 at age 16 and she is dearly missed. Her legend lives on in real life and in my heart.
All images © Christina J. Prestegard 2004 - 2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.