Karula (on the right above) is the female leopard that WE see the most on Western Gowrie (the area of Djuma that WildEarth traverses). Over the past year we have watched as she has mothered two cubs for the first time. Her mother is Safari, a fairly small leopardess who lost an eye many years ago, and while she used to live around Vuyatela she now spends most of her time on Arathusa next door. No one is absolutely sure who Karula's father is, but Rex thinks it might be Mafufunyane (the nervous or skittish one). It is quite normal to not know who the daddy is, their contributions are over so quick, that unless you catch them in the act, you will never be sure. Interestingly, Karula (which should be spelt Karuhla, but we don't for a reason that I am still not sure of) had a sister that was killed by the Styx pride of lions about 3 years ago.
In the beginning WE thought that Karula had given birth to a boy and a girl, but it wasn't until a month or two ago that we were positive that she had two daughters. Now, many of you have been asking when the cubs will be named, who names them, what their names are and how you spell the names. Well, they seem to have gotten names! But one thing to remember is that the same leopard may have three or four names depending on which area it happens to be on the day. Each lodge will often give their own name to a leopard or a lion, and this, as many of you know, can be very confusing.
The cub above, with mommy Karula (which means 'peaceful' in Shangaan) has been named Saseka (sasekhle means 'beautiful' in Shangaan) and her sister, not pictured, has been named Tingana, which means 'shy' in Shangaan. The above picture was taken on the 23rd June 2007 by Pieter and the one below was taken on the 30th March 2008, also of Saseka only now as a young lady. If you compare the spot patterns, particularly between and above the eyes, you can see that it is the same leopard. I must say she really deserves her name ... Saseka ... it even sounds beautiful.
On another note, James has returned to Cape Town today. The big waves are calling. He has achieved so much over the past few weeks and WE are very grateful to him. Jan, as many of you have seen from our new camera in the Final Control, is back from leave. As is Alex, who managed to survive another adventure into the heart of darkness ... Congo. Others go on holiday to the beach, not our Alex he goes into the war ravaged jungles of Congo to visit Pygmies and photograph gorillas. If you have been following our crew movements you would be wondering who is going to replace Daniel. Well, you will meet him next week, but WE can tell you his name is Marco and he is very excited to meet all of you.
Please come and join us at the new WildEarth community site, just click here. Also, you can stay up to date with what WE are watching by 'following' WildEarth on http://twitter.com Every time we spot an animal on the game drives or at the waterhole the director sends out a tweet. You can even set it up so you receive the tweets on your mobile phone as a text message. Soon there will be no escape ...