Over a little more than the past two months, Karula has begun exhibiting behavior, indicating that the final curtain has begun falling on her motherly duties towards Luangwa and Kafue.

She has been paying a little more olfactory interest in her environment than usual, seemingly irresistibly distracted by scent, carrying secret messages, left by male leopards moving through her area.

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Upon detecting these scents, she spends a good amount of time investigating this scent with a keen interest, no doubt assessing the owner of these markings. After gathering all the facts that only her kind can gather from such markings, she immediately leaves a message of her own. We have seen Mafufunyane, one of the dominant male leopards whose territory overlaps partially with Karula’s, moving through the same areas, shortly after Karula has passed through, and he too seems to be lured by these scent messages left by Karula.

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Karula is still being the ideal mother leopard as she is still leading her boys to kills that she has made, ensuring they are well fed sub adults, being around 14 months old now. This new shift in her behavior towards her boys has become very evident in her attitude towards her boys, as we witnessed with some of my return guests, now friends, a few days back.

We found Karula with Luangwa and Kafue one morning and judging by Luangwa’s behavior, seemed to be leading them to a kill. Luangwa was over come by joy and confusion this morning. Joy at seeing his beloved mom again, but confusion for him as any sort of physical contact he sought from his mom was rebuffed with some aggressive hissing and warning snarls from his mother, and a side of their relationship which he has never experienced before and one which has sent his little head into a state of turmoil.

He became more and more desperate trying everything he could think up to melt this cold thirty meter barrier around her heart. But with each approach her aggression intensified, indicating to him that she was close to breaking point. Shortly after he came strutting towards her, in his best, I am your cutest cub on the planet, and curling his tail high over his back for extra effect. His mom was close to having enough of his beguiling behavior and turned to face him with a penetrating hiss and full display of her impressive canines, causing Luangwa to give off pathetic cub-like squeals and plenty of chuffing. His response earned him no response from his mom other than her lying down and intensifying her display of aggression.

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Kafue was unfazed by any of this behavior, as there was no way he could miss the affection he never had from his mother and kept sauntering off in his own independant way and lay down to await the end of his brothers turmoil. Luangwa was clearly desperate for some sort of affection and moved up to Kafue for some comfort. Even when rubbing against Kafue, it was clearly his mothers attention that Luangwa craved as he did not take his eyes off his mother during his affection seeking foray with his brother.
Kafue, the real boy of the family just kept to cleaning his paws and alternately washing his face.

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Karula’s hormones are clearly kicking into high gear, moving her mind and body into breeding mode and, she is still scent marking and face rubbing on every available bush in her neighborhood.

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There has been a different male leopard through the area, some have branded as the Jordaan’s male, an assumption I am skeptical about, as any male leopard other than Mafufunyane seen in the area seems to be assumed to be The Jordaan’s male.

I hope Karula hooks up with somebody other than Mafufunyane, as some new blood in the gene pool would be a good thing. A fresh and new romantic week with a new male would do her some good, but obviously the choice is hers and exclusively hers.

As for Luangwa I think it is going to be a black Christmas. He should take some lessons from his more mature brother and just grow up. The sooner he does, the better his chances.