My name is Little Letaba and I’m a Leopard cub. My mother is called Letaba because our territory encompasses the area round Letaba camp. It’s a great area because there are lots of rocks and gulleys to hide, play and hunt in and the bush is thick so we can stalk right up to our prey without them seeing us. In this area there are a lot of Mopani trees. Their leaves and bark make it almost impossible to see us as our spots blend in perfectly.
My mother is a great Mom. She’s a very good hunter and an expert tree climber. When I’m hungry she just goes off and hunts an Impala for us to eat. She taught me how to climb trees and now she’s teaching me to hunt. I haven’t caught anything yet but one day I will. Then I’m going to find my own territory.
I never met my father, but I heard is very strong and is a fierce predator. He prefers to stay down near the river where the bush is thick and there are big tree’s from where he can watch over his territory. Sometimes when we are walking in the bush we smell his scent markings so we know he’s around.
Last night, just before it got dark Mom caught an Impala right next to the main road between Letaba camp and Phalabora. Unfortunately the Impala made a lot of noise and a Hyena came to try and steal it from us. So my mother carried the Impala high up in a tall Mopani tree. I don’t really like Mopani tree’s because their branches are not big and wide like the trees down by the river. But the color of the leaves means we are very well hidden. No one would have seen us if the Hyena was not hanging around below the tree hoping that the impala would fall out.
I don’t mind people looking at us but I hate it when a whole bunch of cars show up. Fortunately in our area it’s not as bad as it is further down south. Because the bush is so thick, most times very few people see us. But this time some people spotted the Hyena and then shone a light up into the tree and they saw our eyes shining. Then this morning some old guy fromZimbabwecame along. He stopped below the tree and pulled out a big lens. Because of this a few other cars also stopped but considering we were right next to the road it was not too bad. I have heard that down south you should never hunt next to the road because sometimes twenty to thirty cars will stop and you can’t enjoy your impala in peace. So luckily we live where we do.
This morning for breakfast I had impala ribs. They were really tasty. They help sharpen and clean my teeth. Unfortunately when I was trying to bite a piece off it fell down which is a problem because it will just attract the Hyenas who will do anything to try and steal our food. Luckily they can’t climb trees. I love teasing them, especially when they are hungry. All they can do is walk round the tree in circles smelling the blood as it drips down hoping we will drop something down for them. Unless we make a mistake and don’t hang the impala properly in the branches or don’t carry it up a tree quickly they never get anything to eat from our kills and they eventually leave to try and steal something from the Lions.
Anyway, the sun is coming up and my stomach is full and I’m tired and I want to sleep. So let me quickly check there are no Hyenas around and then climb down and give my mother a big rub.
Maybe on the way down I’ll pose for the old man who’s been so patient. Anyway, he’s the only one who has positioned himself perfectly to catch me at my best. So, might as well reward him with a two second glance. Anything more would just be too much. If he misses the shot tough luck, he goes away empty handed and he’ll learn to use his camera better!!
Then we are going to sleep in the culvert under the road where no one will see us. Even the old guy can’t photograph us there. Hopefully he will leave us alone and go and look for Cheetah’s near Rhidonda Pan!