On that Sunday, they were resting on the bank of a small drainage line not far from the exposed roots of a massive tree that formed the perfect hiding place for a vulnerable little leopard cub. In the African bushveld, however, danger lurks around every corner. Spotted hyenas have a knack for sniffing out leopard hiding places and it wasn’t long after that these marauders found Salayexe’s drainage line den site, forcing her to move.
Five days later, we found them in the last spot I would have imagined – right next to a lodge. They were technically inside, since the lodge is unfenced. Salayexe lay a stone’s throw from the last room, its wooden deck overlooking the Manyeleti riverbed. Beneath this deck hid her cautious little cub, but only for a minute or two. Curiosity finally coaxed her out and into her mother’s gentle grasp for a good clean. Apparently this is an old trick of Salayexe’s – using camps as den sites for her young. It makes sense, because other predators like lions and hyenas generally avoid humans if they can.