A true Kaingo or leopard – bed-time story for the kids.

By Derek Shenton – Owner of Shenton Safaris, Zambia

As the dry August days became hotter and hotter and the wind stronger in the Luangwa valley – the beautiful mother leopard grew increasingly worried about the safety of her two young cubs – a boy and a girl. Each evening she would nurse her three-month-old balls of spots to sleep in their soft bed of leaves deep in the thickest of thickets and slink out without sound to the nearby plains to hunt. Returning after midnight she would wake them up and teach them the ways of the leopard. But their lair which had kept them safe for months from hostile hyenas and wandering lions was losing its leaves and becoming too open; it was time to move.

For the next three nights she called for the big male leopard – and father of the cubs. But her call was not answered. It seemed he was far away patrolling another part of the territory. So, she made a plan to seek her sister’s help. This meant leaving the two little ones for the whole night while she went far away across the dry river bed to the forest where she had her lair.

That night she “nyonka’d” the cubs till their tummies were round like tiny beach balls – full of rich milk and set them to sleep. She brushed leaves over her tracks and started out on her long journey. After a long time she stopped and called to her sister. Immediately there was an answer and followed by a tackle and roll as they greeted each other with joy. The mother leopard told her sister of her worries that the cubs were no longer safe where they were and needed to be moved to the other safer thicket under the trees. They both set off at once towards the cubs.

As the sisters arrived at the lair – they heard hyena’s laughing and calling excitedly. They feared the worst – perhaps the cubs had woken up, gone wandering and been caught.

Just then came a deep growl which they recognised at once. It was the big male leopard. He had come back just in time to rescue the cubs and defend them against danger.

After sometime the hyenas got bored and strolled away and the leopard family decided to make its move. They started off down the track towards their new lair – the big male in front, the mother and cubs next and last came the leopard sister. One by one in a line they walked – the cubs trotted excitedly following their mother’s white tail in front. At one stage they passed through a small human lair, an area of lights and excited whispers in strange languages. Finally, the family of five leopards made it to their new home – a dense thicket surrounding two huge, easy to climb ebony trees. They had made it! The end.

Come and see the Leopard family at Kaingo Camp in Zambia.

Thanks for reading

Illona Cross, Tanzania

Author: Illona Cross