May 2021

The Leopards of Singita by Janice Katz


The Leopards of Singita by Janice Katz

Here’s to those who conserve the land;

And take the weapons from the poacher's hand.

Here’s to the trackers and guides who drive us around,

The Singita properties where leopards are found.

I’ve seen mating, I’ve seen kills, I’ve seen little cubs at play,

I’ve seen 14 different leopards in one single stay.

I yearn to see you each day, whenever we’re apart,

The leopards of Singita have stolen my heart.

- Janice Katz

In honour of #WorldLeopardDay, we asked Janice, one of our most valued guests, a long-standing friend to our Singita family, and a great supporter of Panthera together with her husband David, to share some of her favourite #LeopardsOfSingita photographs and stories.

Janice has been following some of these elusive creatures for years and now knows as much about their stories, if not more, than our very own guides. So, without further ado, please join us on a mini virtual game drive through Singita Sabi Sand, Singita Grumeti and Singita Pamushana, with Special Guest Field Guide Janice Katz.

Nyeleti Arrives. Intense, sad, riveting, emotional, and amazing. This was an incredible sighting. We had seen the Ravenscourt female and her two cubs the day before. While following leopard tracks out of the lodge the next day, we heard a large commotion. We came upon this scene. The male was, at the time, unknown. He had just arrived into the Sabi Sands and was looking to establish dominance. Apparently, he had killed one of the Ravenscourt’s cubs. There was serious chaos around the scene. Elephants were trumpeting and on their way; hyenas were at the foot of the tree waiting for scraps and we were told that the Ravenscourt female was approaching. The leopard did eventually establish dominance and was named Nyeleti. He still rules today. Boulders Lodge 

Tavungumi. It was a drizzly morning, but we decided to head out to see what we could find. One minute out of the lodge, we came upon Tavungumi who was just starting to establish his independence from Schotia, his mother. It was quite an adventure as we spent two hours following this young, newly independent male through his day. After two unsuccessful impala hunts and being chased up a thorny tree by hyena, he decided to take a rest on this fallen tree. Ebony Lodge

Mobeni.  Mobeni is a very shy leopard who is not regularly viewed. We heard she had been located the day before, so we set out to see if we could find her. From a distance, we saw her in a tree with a carcass above the dam. It took us a while to approach so as not to scare her off. As she relaxed with our presence; amazingly, she let us get extremely close. She was very curious about us but remained calm. We stayed for some time to watch her feed.  Eventually, she was chased away by a hyena at the water hole nearby. Ebony Lodge

Xipuku – the Ghost. Who is this guy? That’s what we all wondered as we viewed him from quite a distance. We had set out to find Mobeni again and came across this male up a tree with a kill. Our guide and tracker (Mark and Emmanuel) were not familiar with this particular leopard but thought it might be a very elusive individual that had been rarely seen and was extremely shy. Each time we tried to approach, he became uncomfortable and skittish, so we remained at a distance. We had the luxury of watching him feed for some time and he actually put on quite a show before Mobeni appeared and they had a scuffle – which we heard but did not see. He then ran away, leaving the kill for Mobeni. He has since been named Xipuku, which means ghost or phantom due to his elusive nature. Ebony Lodge

“Kunzi’s” Cub. Hlab’nkunzi was one of the favorite female leopards of the Singita family.  Ebony and Boulders were often graced by her presence at the lodge, literally. On our way back from a game drive we saw “kunzi” high upon the rocks with what appeared to be a kill. Never to let something as “silly” as granite boulders and rocks stop us, we began to climb to investigate. Yes, the rover can climb granite “cliffs”.  It was a bumpy, exciting ride as we tried to find the best route to the sighting. As we approached, we were delighted to see her cub, sitting perfectly content watching us navigate the rocky hill. Its soft, light fur against the hard dark natural background was stunning. Ebony Lodge

Grumet. One of the oldest, most established and dominant males in the Grumeti Reserve. We found him up in this tree with a carcass. Faru Faru Lodge

Grumet’s Wife. During our stay, we met three of Grumet’s wives. This one was a beauty! Faru Faru Lodge

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my most astounding leopard experiences. It happened while at the magnificent Pamushana Lodge - but I have no pictures - only those that remain emblazoned in my mind. We had just left our vehicle to go on a walking safari with Japhet and Difficult, our guide and tracker, to follow some wild dog. As we started walking in the bush, several wild dogs flew by us being chased buy a clan of hyena. We stood frozen in our tracks as the scene unfolded when, all of a sudden, Difficult pointed to a tree slightly ahead of us and said there is a leopard in that tree. Sure enough, it was right there protecting a kill it had below. Wild dog, hyena, and leopard all while on foot. That may be a record setter!

Now it's time to stop for a sundowner! Sit back, relax, and read more about Singita's partnership with Panthera here.

Follow Janice on Instagram: @jwolfkatz