Our dedicated guides have been hard at work, providing our guests with unforgettable experiences in the heart of the wild. From adorable cubs to fierce battles for territory, here are some of our highlights from the 2023 season!

Kuwita’s Daughters

At the season’s start, under the glow of a full moon, our guides came up with names for Kuwita’s daughters. They named them Nthanda, meaning “star,” for the smaller cub with a distinctive curly tail, and Mwezi, meaning “moon,” for her sister.

Nthanda

Mwezi

We’ve had some fantastic sightings of these beautiful leopards, including many of Mwezi enjoying her treetop naps, along with her impressive impala kill in October, skillfully spotted by our senior guide, Yoram.

Mwezi up in a tree

Mwezi stalking an impala

“The action was so swift that she dragged the kill deep into the thicket in a matter of minutes.” 

Yoram, senior guide at Shenton Safaris

As for Nthanda, at the beginning of the season, she became a very frequent visitor to Kaingo Camp, passing by almost daily. However, things took a turn when it was discovered that she had injured her leg. Over the past few months, we’ve closely monitored her strong recovery, complemented by the motherly guidance of Kuwita, who has been sharing kills. In October, our guide Philemon and his guests spotted her with an impala carcass up in a leadwood tree—a significant sign of progress considering her months of struggle.

Nthanda eating an impala

Nthanda

Mwamba-Kaingo Pride and Their Adorable Cubs

With our first guests of the season, Patrick managed to track down the Mwamba-Kaingo pride. This remarkable pride comprises of six adults – two males and four females. What’s even more exciting is that they were accompanied by four adorable cubs, estimated to be around four months old.

Image credit: Rolf Frei

Image credit: Robin Lee | The cubs at around 6 months old

Not too long after that, they had spotted another female within the same pride nursing three smaller cubs. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, only four out of the total of seven cubs from the Mwamba-Kaingo pride have survived.

It has been incredible watching these cubs learn and grow over the months. Right now, they’re around 10 months old. As the cubs age, some female cubs stay within the pride when they reach sexual maturity, while others are forced out and join other prides or wander as nomads. Male cubs are expelled from the pride at about two to three years old and become nomads until they are old enough to attempt taking over another pride, typically after reaching the age of five.

The Hollywood Pride Lion Cubs

Later in May, Yoram and his guests embarked on an adventure to Fish Eagle Lagoon. To their delight, they were greeted, not by one, but two, lionesses. Yoram recognized that they were part of the renowned Hollywood pride, and one of the lionesses had five young cubs with her. They were resting in the thickets near a dead hippo, which they had been feasting on for a few days. The mother was busy nursing her 3-4 week-old cubs.

Four out of the five cubs have survived and are growing, playing and exploring nicely.

Mother and cubs resting after feasting on a hippo

Image credit: JP Bouchard

Remarkable Leopard Encounters

During the month of June, something interesting happened when Chipadzua found herself unexpectedly crossing paths with Kuwita… Both leopards had their sights set on an impala carcass, but their joint efforts proved futile as a hyena stole the kill.

Eventually, they parted ways, each pursuing their own path without any fight.

The Naming of Chipadzua’s Cubs

In the month of July, the guides decided on names for Chipadzua’s two cubs. For the little girl, “Taonga,” which means thank-you or appreciation in the local Chewa language. As for the little boy, “Chisomo,” which means grace or favor.

ChisomoImage credit: JP Bouchard

Taonga

Chipadzua and her cubs when they were younger | Image credit: Joel Kaplan

The Arrival of a New Female Leopard

In late July, our team had the privilege of spotting a new, older-looking female leopard near Kaingo Camp. She has ousted Kuwita from her territory, and as a result, Kuwita is now based more inland, living closer to her daughters, Nthanda and Mwezi.

This leopard, recognizable by her large eyes and aged appearance, has become a familiar sight around the camp. We’ve had multiple encounters as she diligently patrols for bushbuck and seeks refuge near our senior guide Patrick’s house.

Image credit: Robin Lee

Image credit: Robin Lee

The Lion and Hippo Standoff

In August, Sly and his guests had a memorable encounter when they observed a male lion from the Hollywood pride near Acacia Loop on the opposite side of the river. He was attempting to cross over, but his path was repeatedly obstructed by hippos. After several attempts, the lion eventually gave up and disappeared into the bushes.

Mysterious New Males in November

As we approached the end of the season, Patrick and his guests made a fascinating discovery.

They spotted two new males in the area close to Kaingo camp, accompanied by three Mwamba-Kaingo females. One of the dominant males had a scar on his mouth from a previous snare incident but, having had the snare removed, the marking makes him easily identifiable.

The unknown snared male

We’re eagerly awaiting to learn whether these males are mating with the Mwamba-Kaingo females. Their calls suggest that these males are growing more comfortable with the Mwamba-Kaingo pride, and we’re keen to see what the future holds in the upcoming 2024 season!

We hope you've enjoyed this roundup of our season's highlights. Stay tuned for more adventures in 2024 as we continue to explore the wonders of big cats in this captivating region.

The Shenton Safaris family

For previous Big Cat Round-Up features, please click here.

About Megan Woolley

Megan Woolley has written 35 post in this blog.