When Faka Nchovela was last seen in December 2020 she was clearly pregnant, this is a few months after her previous two cubs of her first litter left for independency. We were all of course very excited about the news, she is going to be a mother for a second time but also for the opportunity to view cubs again in the near future.

For the month of January 2021 and the first two weeks of February we had no sighting of Faka Nchovela and also no spoor within her normal territory and it became clear that she must have given birth and therefore not moving as far and wide as normal. We started searching in the areas we thought would be the perfect den sites for her during this time of the year. After weeks of eliminating one area after the other, Rul finally found fresh signs of her and a cub/s in the soft wet sand of a drainage line packed with granite rocks every few meters, making it the perfect hiding place for a little leopard cub.

We set out that afternoon with confidence that she will be in that same area and with a bit of luck maybe see her and a cub or even cubs. We had no idea what was in store for us as we maneuvered around the drainage line and waited patiently. An hour or so later a very excited call came in over the radio from Rul “She is here, she is here!”, sitting on the other side pointing down in the drainage line with a great big smile on his face.

We positioned ourselves at the crossing and watched her walk down toward us while calling for her cub. It was smiles all around when she finally came out the thickets with a 4-5 week old blue-eyed leopard cub. She stayed in the drainage line for a few minutes before she, along with her cub, disappeared again in the densely vegetated bush.

We have seen her multiple times after until a single lioness moved in nearby her den site and even stole a kill from her. We have not yet found where she moved her cub too next.

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