Love is in the air!Photographer : Indika Nettigama (Game Ranger, Leopard Trails)
It was just last year when I embarked on a leopard identification initiative to demonstrate to our guides the value of recognizing individuals, and it is days like this where we feel the hard work has paid off. One of the privileges of being in the wild on a daily basis and being able to identify individual leopards is to really get to know an animal and its unique character traits, and to see its development from cub to sub-adulthood to adulthood. That is exactly what Leopard Trails ranger Indika has done over the last few years. Today was perhaps graduation day for our favorite male leopard commonly known in Wilpattu as Natta! We believe we may have just captured the first instance of Natta mating at an age of approximately 3 years and 8 months. Leopard mating is a lengthy affair with mating every 15 minutes that can last for up to 5 days! It was an affair of snarls, growls and grimaces for over 2 hours before our guests were taken back to camp! It is coming to the point where Indika is developing a special bond with this Leopard given that they have been spending time together on a daily basis in recent times.
Today being the 24th of March, and in the event that the female conceives, the cubs should be born sometime in June. We will be on the lookout for the cubs come September, approximately 3 months after the birth when the mother will be more comfortable briefly exposing the cubs in broad daylight.