Friday, January 20, 2012

A day with Zawadi, the Leopard

I set out this morning for a game drive at 6.am, with one objective, to see Zawadi the leopard at the leopard gorge. She had been reported to have one cub of about 3 months old. My mission and that of my guests who has been coming here for many years, was to establish the truth, since the leopard in reference is a known character who featured a few times on the BBC’s Big Cat Diary. She is about 16 yrs old by now and for her to have a cub at this age is proving us wrong in what we would have thought is not possible.
Back to the leopard gorge.... when i got there this morning, i found Jonathan Scott, a proffessional photographer in the Mara who has been following this particular leopard since she was a small cub. When we met, we talked of the good old days at the same place when we used to come and see Half tail, Zawadi’s mother in the early 90s. This particular spot was a popular land mark for the driver guides looking for leopards.
When i arrived, before my chat with Jonathan, i looked around and did not see teh leopard though i know she will be somewhere here if Jonathan is also around. It did not take long befroe i saw some movement in the grass on the opposite side of the gorge, and there our anticpiation and long drive was rewarded when she appeared with the cub. Our cameras immediatley went into “rapid fire” mode taking so many of the pictures we later deleted whne she posed nicely giving us the opportunity we wanted. We watched her and around 9am sh eleft the cub and walked away. We assumed she went to hunt and we did not want to spoil her hunt, so we just waited where we were.  She came back and went to where the cub was and just slept! We waited until 5.45pm when she came out with the cub, and gave as some great nice poses, whne she knew well that the light was gone and we could not take any picture; well...tomorrow is another day, an di will be there early enough an dall set to spend another day at the gorge, either taking pictures of her, or waiting! Thats life in the Mara....my office.

 With the tall grass, she has to be on the lookout all the time when her cub is playing

 A lookout from her observation rock

 Zawadi plays with her cub on the rocks above the gorge

The cub playing with mum's tail

7 comments:

gia said...

That is awesome! I remember Half-Tail and Zawadi well and didn't even know Zawadi was still alive (I haven't been following the Mara very closely). Thanks for sharing the photos!

Mara Fan said...

thank you paul for your wonderful pictures from Zawadi and her cub.
I wish I was there to see all this personally.

asante sana
christa

Donna Wiedrich said...

I cannot believe she looks so healthy! Have any of the big cat experts ever heard of such an old leopard doing so well and still producing cubs?

bernie bee said...

Thank you thank you thank you.... What a treat to see mum and cub. I do hope we get the chance to see them both in March!!!! The wonders of this world let's cherish them all. Also I hope the herdsman is healing and forgives her.
Every bit of the Mara life... human or animal is precious. Thank you again for your up-dates. B

Anonymous said...

Aw, thanks Paul, for posting this lovely story! It's brilliant to see Zawadi doing so well. I'm really hoping the cub will keep her young and spry. I love that leopard so much and have watched Big Cat Diary over and over again. She is so special! I must say, though, she is showing her age a little bit. Her skin is rather loose and her coat is kind of dull, but she looks wonderful nonetheless. :)

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Big Cat Diary which I have recently started watching on Animal Planet. I know the episodes are old so I am so excited to see a post on Zawadi. Good luck to her and her new cub. Jonathan...if you read this post...thank you so much for your work on BCD. My 83 year old mother gets such enjoyment out of your enthusiasm for the big cats. Thank you to all those who contributed to BCD. Great show. Wish it would return!!

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Big Cat Diary which I have recently started watching on Animal Planet. I know the episodes are old so I am so excited to see a post on Zawadi. Good luck to her and her new cub. Jonathan...if you read this post...thank you so much for your work on BCD. My 83 year old mother gets such enjoyment out of your enthusiasm for the big cats. Thank you to all those who contributed to BCD. Great show. Wish it would return!!