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South Luangwa is the second largest national park in Zambia and it’s completely unfenced, so the animals are free to come and go as they like. It also has the highest density of leopards in Africa. I spent three months there following a family of them. The mother, Alice, is 12 years old and, as leopards often only live to 14, was expected to be rearing her final litter of cubs. She is famous in the area – where most leopards are entirely nocturnal and very shy, Alice comes from a long line of leopards known for being more outgoing. For instance, I once saw her refuse to move when a massive supply lorry rattled past 20 metres from where she had just made a kill at the roadside. Her two cubs were more inclined to hide, often in trees. Leopard cubs are in danger of being eaten by a great many predators, including other leopards. The cubs were a male and a female – over the time I spent with them they grew a lot, the male in particular becoming bolder. Unusually, Alice would allow a three-year-old son of hers (pictured far left) to play with the cubs and feed on the kills she made for them.

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Lonely Planet
March 2015

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