16 September 2010

The Mating Rituals of Leopards

We have accomplished another day of fence rolling and so we are rewarded by an afternoon of leopard tracking.  Rion will be guiding on his own today and we drive for a bit before we even get a signal.  He is determined to find the leopards for us, and we 4wheel drive through thick bush dodging thorns and scratches in search of these elusive cats. 

After much driving around we get a signal and finally locate both MJ and Mufana.  We can’t quite believe our luck but this time around they are out in the open.  They might even surprise us again.  We turn off the engine and settle in for a bit of leopard watching. JPEGS 2010 09 08 Leopard Tracking-13We are in luck.  It is spring time in Nambia and MJ knows it.  She approaches Mufana and waves her bum in his face letting him know she is ready to do the wild thing.

The act is noisy and fast but this time we get clear pictures! They don’t seem to mind there is a car load of volunteers watching them with video and telephoto lenses poised.  They go at it like..well a pair of wild cats but it isn’t long before she throws him off her.

The leopard penis is barbed and the act is quite painful for MJ but she still keeps coming back for more.  These 2 leopards have now been at it for over a month, which is longer than usual for leopards mating.  JPEGS 2010 09 08 Leopard Tracking-19MJ rolls around in the sand.  She is obviously enjoying this despite the pain and it isn’t long before she signals to Mufana she is ready for him again.  We watched them perform 3 times before Rion lets us know it is time for us to leave them in peace.JPEGS 2010 09 08 Leopard Tracking-21 As the cats walk off into the bush, we decide to head home but our day is not quite over.  The vehicle refuses to start!  Here we are just spitting distance from a pair of leopards and our car is stuck!  Fortunately, the leopards keep moving and Rion has a go checking a few things in the vehicle.  Unfortunately, she just doesn’t want to co-operate. 

No one is panicking just yet because we know that help is only a radio message away.  Rion calls Clive on the two-way radio and it isn’t long before he turns up to help.  The car is fixed and we head home.  We have just been witness to something very unique that not many people are privileged to see.  My time at Okonjima just keeps getting better.

JPEGS 2010 09 08 Leopard Tracking-31 “Do you want me to tell you something really subversive?  Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more.”  Erica Jong

No comments: