There are some leopards that just manage to creep into your heart, no matter what it is that they do, or how it is that they act.
A young female leopard, Tisela, is one of these leopards. Tisela means the patient one or the one who waits. She is finally independent from her mother, Boulders. This feline, together with her brother, Hlambela, had a rough start when their mom sustained a serious injury to one of her legs. It seemed as if Boulders abandoned her litter at around six months old. Usually cubs of this age will struggle to feed themselves. Tisela and Hlambela quickly formed a formidable partnership and managed to learn how to hunt for mongoose. This turned out to be a major success strategy for the two young leopard cubs. Boulders eventually healed from her injury and reunited with Tisela and Hlambela.
The dynamic duo split from Boulders at a fairly early age and the two youngsters formed a little partnership. The siblings kept each other company and formed a mean mongoose hunting party. Unfortunately for Tisela, Hlambela started to grow faster than what she could. He grew taller and stronger and as a result he would bully her off any food that the two managed to gather. The two leopards eventually split and went their separate ways.
Tisela has done phenomenally well to avoid confrontations with some of the more dominant female leopards in the area. She has managed to carve out a small territory that runs parallel to her mom’s current territory. This little wedge has a few prominent water holes and plenty of antelope and smaller creatures for her to survive.
My latest interaction with this gorgeous female was finding her draped over a fallen over tree trunk. Someone had mentioned that Boulders had made a kill and lost it almost immediately to a clan of hyenas. This commotion summoned the curious Tisela. Realising that she would not be able to join in on the feast, she watched from a safe distance and simply relaxed for the remainder of the evening.
I have had the privilege to spend a considerable amount of time with Tisela and Hlambela since they were born around July 2018. Although this little lady can have quite the fighting spirit in her, thanks to her mom Boulders, she often comes across as far too mature for her age. This may be due to the relaxed nature of her father, Ravenscourt. I have only seen Tisela riled up on two occasions. The first was when she was around eight months old and a hyena grabbed one of her mongoose kills. The feisty feline rushed in and grabbed the kill from the hyena without even flinching. She scurried back up a tree with her reclaimed prize, looking down on the hyena who was more than triple her size.
One other time I saw Tisela loaded with energy was during lockdown 2020 when she hopelessly chased after two squirrels stranded up a tree. The startled squirrels literally ran circles around her.
Most of the time, Tisela has a very reserved nature and will casually watch you as you marvel at her beauty. Once she has had enough attention she will simply look away and show her disinterest in you.