A particular female leopard in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve has become a regular sighting for guests at Lion Sands on game drives over the last couple of months. On most occasions when the she has been sighted they have seen her moving in and around the dry riverbeds and the thicket vegetation surrounding the riverbeds. She had been in the same area for about 3 weeks now and this lead the rangers to believe that she might have cubs in the area …
On Saturday morning one of the rangers located both the female leopard and her cubs sunbathing on an old dead tree stump in the area that she had been frequenting!!
This litter includes 2 cubs which are approximately 2 months old as their coats appear to be smoky gray as the rosettes are not yet clearly defined. This was an incredible sighting for the guests!
Female leopards are capable of breeding at 2 years and will produce litters of one to 3 cubs after a pregnancy lasting about 3 and a half months. Leopard cubs weigh around 500g at birth and their eyes open after about a week. For the first 2 months the mother keeps her cubs hidden in dense bush, rock clefts or hollow tree trunks to minimize detection from predators.
The cubs will venture from hiding after about 6 to 8 weeks by which time they are rather successful tree climbers.
Mothers leave the young cubs for periods of up to 36 hours while hunting and feeding before returning to suckle them. She brings solid food to her cubs when they’re about 6 weeks old and the cubs are weaned at about 3 months but stay with their mother for the first 22 months. Less than half of the cubs from a litter will on average survive to adulthood.