On June 18th, we observed a female leopard at one of the Neuras waterholes. We then observed her again at a few more sites around the estate.
We noticed that she was very thin in the first sighting, but looked much healthier in later photos. I named her Khaleesi in honor of
one of the protagonists in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series, the fierce “Mother of Dragons.”
Although as a researcher I am not supposed to attach myself to individuals, I am particularly fond of Khaleesi because I suspect that she is the only leopard whose home range lies almost entirely within the Neuras estate. You can imagine how happy I was when I discovered the following photo:
Through all the previous sightings, we failed to notice that she is currently rearing three cubs. Best of all, her cubs appear healthy despite Khaleesi having three extra bellies to fill rather than the more typical two. The cubs also explain why she looked so thin in the early sightings; the birth and first couple of months raising cubs are very taxing on leopard mothers. The cubs, only a few months old, showed a bit of curiosity playing around the waterhole and investigating a scratching tree that the local male (and likely father of the cubs) uses to mark his territory.
As Khaleesi is the mother of three dragons in Game of Thrones, we thought it only appropriate to name the cubs The Dragons. With my study nearing completion, it will fall to Matt & Kate to continue monitoring Khaleesi and watch the cubs grow up.