‘During my long walk to freedom, I had the rare privilege to visit Londolozi. There I saw people of all races living in harmony amidst the beauty that Mother Nature offers. Londolozi represents a model of the dream I cherish for the future of nature preservation in our country’– Nelson Mandela
Situated on the Sand River in the very heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Londolozi has become an enchanting destination since 1926 and a safe haven for wildlife where they freely move across open, vast spaces. This iconic safari experience and game reserve envelops its visitors with breeding herds of elephant and buffalo, the largest concentrations of white rhino and lions on the African continent and intimate leopard sightings.
It is the leopards of Londolozi that have made them world famous for wildlife. Londolozi says, “Over the course of three decades, a unique relationship has developed between our rangers and trackers and generations of wild leopards. Intimate leopard sightings are frequent here, an experience that our guests agree is a pinnacle life experience”.
It is rare to see leopards in the wild as they are solitary predators and this was also the case in the beginning days of Londolozi where the leopards were true to their elusive nature. However, in 1979 John Varty, co-founder of Londolozi with naturalist Elmon Mhlongo began to develop a relationship with the Mother Leopard, one who John Varty had spent twelve years documenting. It was then that Londolozi and the guests of Londolozi started their love affair with leopards and entered into the secret world of the leopard.
“Tracking the leopards of days gone by to the leopards of today is a fascinating art. Some leopards of the early lineages remain, whilst new leopards show up too. Owing to the dynamic nature of leopard populations and their territorial behavior; individual animals move into areas where they can secure a territory for themselves. On occasions this means they move away from Londolozi, never to be seen again, whilst at times new leopards arrive and establish themselves. Because of this and because of the massive 6 million acre wilderness system of which we form a part, we know that the leopard gene pool of Londolozi and the greater African population only continues to grow stronger” – Londolozi
The relationship formed with the original Mother Leopard generated a dynasty of the famous ‘Londolozi Leopards’ giving its visitors the privilege of watching these leopard lineages. The mutual trust and respect that has formed over the decades since continues to grow deeper over the years making Londolozi a mecca for leopard viewing. Furthermore, with the future of leopards severely threatened as they are persecuted around the world, Londolozi provides an important haven to these graceful and powerful cats.
The leopards of Londolozi have continued to surprise Londolozi naturalists and visitors as they establish themselves on the reserve. Strong, stealthy with a deadly pounce, comfortable in trees and swimming, they’ve experienced them in their wild and untamed element.
They’ve seen a leopard adopt and raise her daughter’s cub to adulthood and later watched as the then independent male allowed his grandmother to feed on his kills as she aged and weakened. They have even witnessed as many as 8 leopards in one sighting counter to their solitary reputation. The leopards have intimately shared their story with all who have had the life-changing experience of visiting Londolozi and by showing their beauty and mystery have helped countless visitors show that there is still magic in the world.
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