There is something about the look in Hukumuri’s eyes that creates immediate goose flesh – terror, awe or perhaps disgust at his constant dribbling – I’m not sure which just yet. That said, his name which means Chicken Medicine makes him sound like a character from Monty Python rather than the antagonist in a life and death leopard conflict.
In reality, there doesn’t appear to have been much conflict at all – Tingana, the erstwhile Duke of Djuma seems to have resigned his territory without so much as an angry saw. Of course, this is how leopards do things. They avoid swashbuckling physical confrontations for the sake of honour. There is no honour in leopard death – just hyaenas and maggots coming to feed off a once mighty beast. Rather, leopards retire to obscurity.
It would be well to remember that Tingana meted out the same fate to Mvula a few years back. The older leopard had a very pleasant retirement by all accounts. While he seemed not longer capable of defending a territory, Mvula was certainly able to provide himself with meals and even mated a few times. Before you feel too sorry for Tingana, recall also that he killed and ate Mvula’s consort.
On to more cheerful matters – for the young are almost universally more blithe than the old.
Thamba, he of the large ears and long whiskers, is making a fine go of his new independence. The kudu cow he ambushed this week was more than three times his mass. While I am pleased the little fellow has protein to feed his growth, the fact that the antelope was about to be a mother sullied the experience somewhat. But this is just me anthropomorphising (try and say that after a scotch).
Hosana, the kudu killer’s uncle, arrived home under cover of darkness. He is many people’s favourite possibly because of his royal lineage – he is the late queen’s son. I think, however, that his approval ratings have more to do with his apparent enjoyment of company – ours especially. This is strange for a solitary cat and will perhaps disappear along with his youthful innocence.
Innocence is an apt description of Thandi’s baby girl – carefree she pounces on her mother and practices her tree climbing, blissfully unaware of the fatal danger that Hukumuri poses. The mother, however, is fully cognisant of the threat to her genetic legacy and has moved a long way east to avoid the attentions of the dribbling terror.
Also back on the Djuma home front, the Nkuhumas. How marvellous to see this pride – decimated by the arrival of the Birmingham Boys almost three years ago, ravaged by white muscle disease during the drought – thriving. They devoured a buffalo this week and let’s hope there are few more fat bovids on Djuma to keep their attention.
Written by James Hendry