Who would have thought that a tiny rocky outcrop could stir up so much emotion?
One of my favourite female leopards, Basile, has moved her den yet again. This time she has used a set of rocks that I have driven past countless times before. Behind one of the boulders a little cove opens up, leading up to a bunch of nooks and cranny’s for the cub to hide in while mom is out.
I have waited patiently to spend an intimate moment with Basile and her precious little cub. Luck was on my side and she granted me an opportunity.
When I arrived I could see Basile in full view. The cub was still suckling so I sat quietly and waited for the youngster to finish up. Mom was alert and attentive to any surrounding sounds that infiltrated the space around her.
Soon after feeding, the adorable cub turned around and went to go lay close to mom, also taking in the sounds emanating from its environment.
As with all cats, grooming is an essential part of the day. Mom proceeded to comb through the fuzzy fur of her son. With long strokes she ensured that she cleaned the cub’s entire coat. If you thought that this moment could not get any cuter, the baby got up and started grooming mom too. Is it just me or can you see mom smiling too?
Once the necessary morning routines have been completed, the next order of the day is of course play time. As successful and stealthy as Basile is as a huntress, she possesses an equally playful and caring side as a mother. Mom knows all too well that the white tip of her tail sparks far too much curiosity in the inquisitive eyes of her little boy.
As she started flicking the tail around, the little cub took no time to practice its instinctive hunting skills. The cub crept closer and pounced upon its helpless victim.
I have witnessed leopards apply the greatest degree of patience. Not only when they are hunting and stalking down their prey, but even tolerating their cubs when they too would love a little nap. Once the cub got bored with moms tail, her twitching ears seemed to be the most fascinating thing. The best ways to play with mom’s ears – bite and chew on them of course!
Having already lost one of this litter’s cubs early on, I trust that Basile has finally learned to take better care of this blue eyed beauty and keep him safe from harm.