Mother and daughter relationships are never easy during the teenage years, especially so if the relationship is between leopards. Malaika is a four year old female leopard with an 18 month old daughter Chiphadzuwa and both are regularly spotted by our guests at Kaingo Camp and Mwamba Bushcamp. They were both named by Patrick, our senior guide and their Chinyanja names translate to `Beautiful’ and `More Beautiful’ respectively.
Leopards are fiercely territorial, both males and females, and this presents problems for their offspring, particularly the males. Young females like Chiphadzuwa are tolerated by their mothers until they enter their first period of oestrus, when their bodies betray the fact that they are becoming adults and thereby, competition to the resident. Territories are maintained for a number of reasons and one of the primary reasons is propagation of the species with strong genes – a weak leopard will not be able to maintain a territory and therefore is very unlikely to breed. Younger males and females provide competition for their parents in all aspects of the territory and must be expelled as soon as they reach their teenage years.
But fortunately for us at Shenton Safaris, Malaika and Chiphadzuwa have an enduring relationship for the moment. They provide our guests with endless opportunities of close viewing of this relationship,
even if little Chiphadzuwa does show her irritation at the close presence of humans,
unlike her mother who seems to adore the attention.
We hope to see a lot more of them this season, either together or on their own, for what would Kaingo Camp be without the screams of baboons and pukus signalling Malaika and Chiphadzuwa on the hunt again.