The Story of Langklaas, my Kgalagadi Leopardess (Part 2) – The Circle of Life

 

I have not been very active on my blog lately… Maybe the reason was twofold… Aghh… Forget about the excuses!!

I knew my next proper blog post would be about something sad, but also something very close to my heart… It would be about an amazing leopardess that (and I almost forgot) became probably a life long inspiration for me and my wildlife photography… It is Part 2 of my story about Langklaas, my Kgalagadi leopardess…

 

 

 

So, if you have not read Part 1 of the story of Langklaas, click on the aforementioned link and read it before you continue to read the remainder of this blog post…

I had my awesome sighting of Langklaas during June 2012 and never saw her again.

 

 

 

Dr Matthew Schurch from the Kgalagadi Leopard Project explains the origin of her name as follows:- “…Langklaas was one of the most important leopards for the Kgalagadi Leopard Project for many reasons. She was the fourth leopard to be identified on the SANParks forum when Anne-Marie Rosset posted a sighting of her at Kannagauss on 25 April 2007. During these early years she was sighted a lot around the Langklaas waterhole and was thus named after this location. She was a particularly striking leopard with eyes that reminded one of the famous Cleopatra…”

Langklaas was indeed a Kgalagadi legend and events in the dry kalahari desert during May 2014, ensured that the legend will live on and be remembered for many many years to come! I was unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) not a witness to these events, but during May 2014 I learned through the powerful social media that Langklaas passed away on 8 May 2014. However, and even more surprisingly, I heard that Langklaas was seen at the game hide at the Nossob rest camp the day before her death, 7 May 2014! So I investigated…

It was during the morning of 7 May 2014 when a group of photographers and wildlife enthusiasts in the Nossob hide in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park saw the ailing Langklaas trying to ease the pain and knowledge of her fateful last hours, by drinking at the waterhole.

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

She was obviously very sick and barely had enough energy to lower her head to drink…

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

She was still drinking when a lioness and her cub approached the waterhole in the distance. A lone lioness will surely not hesitate to kill a healthy leopard if she has the opportunity, let alone a sick and dying leopardess! But this lioness also has a cub with her – She will be extremely protective over the cub… and she will be extremely dangerous and aggressive when she spots Langklaas, her nemesis…

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

Langklaas saw the lioness and her cub approaching the waterhole and staggered away from the edge of the water. The lioness suddenly had more intend in her step…

 

Langklaas left the comfort of the waterhole and amazingly made her way closer to the hide where the sound of clicking camera shutters and whispering humans broke the deafening silence of the cruel kalahari desert – Did she want to afford the photographers, that treasured her beauty and very existence over the past years, a last opportunity to photograph her? An opportunity to photograph her death? Or was she seeking help from the humans?

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins
Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins
Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins
She had no chance of surviving if the lioness attacked…

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

The lioness and and her cub followed Langklaas… the inevitable was about to happen and everybody in the hide prepared themselves for the worse…

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

But something amazing happened – Even though Langklaas immediately submitted to the lioness and prepared herself to die, the lioness with her cub at her side, did not touch Langklaas!

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

 

According to witnesses the lioness only “growled softly” or “murmured a gentle farewell”, paying the highest respect for the leopardess that once was a queen in her own right… After a short while the lioness and the cub turned around and walked away, leaving Langklaas to die in peace and with dignity…

 

Image taken by and posted with the consent of Obie Prins

It was reported that Langklaas passed away during the early hours of 8 May 2014 near the Nossob hide…

Louis Rossouw posted two videos about Langklaas and the events of May 2014 on Youtube – The first video is the actual video and the second video is more a slideshow “tribute” to Langklaas…

 

 

 

But was this really Langklaas? Maybe… Just maybe it was not…! But yes, it was… The whisker pattern of the leopard in Obie’s images, is the whisker pattern of my Kgalagadi leopardess…

 

Dr Matthew Schurch of the Kgalagadi Leopard Project reported on the death of Langklaas and wrote an interesting article about her life on the Wild Card Blog of 16 May 2014.

At first there was much speculation about what caused Langklaas’ death – Snake bite, some infection? However, a post mortem later concluded and revealed that she died of pyometra, i.e. an infection of the uterus. You can read the report by Dr David Zimmermann, a member of SANParks Veterinary and Wildlife Services, by clicking the aforesaid link.

 

Langklaas was and always will be a true legend of the Kgalagadi – That lioness and her cub knew it and acted accordingly…

 

All the leopards in the Kgalagadi are special, as they have to endure and survive some of the harshest conditions on earth – everything from extreme cold temperatures far below zero to extremely high temperatures around 50 degrees celsius. Except for the temperature, the search for food and water is a constant battle for survival.

 

I have already wrote a short blog post about legendary South African wildlife photographer Hannes Lochner and his quest to photograph a Kgalagadi leopardess and her cub over a period of 750 days. Do yourself a favour and read my blog post, Book Promo – “The Dark Side of the Kalahari” by Hannes Lochner, or even better, purchase the book itself, to see what hurdles Kgalagadi leopards have to overcome. You might just also find the same passion that drives Hannes to do what he does…

 

But, this story has a happy ending – Despite all the hardship, the leopards of the Kgalagadi are  still thriving and will always do, as long as we treasure and protect our amazing natural heritage!

 

Luna or “Rooiputs” and her cub – Image taken by and posted with the consent of Hannes Lochner

 

You can also play a roll in the conservation of Kgalagadi leopards and one of the ways to do that, is to support the amazing work of Dr Matthew Schurch and the Kgalagadi Leopard Project. Please visit the Kgalagadi Leopard Project website or follow their Facebook Page.

 

Well, this is my story about and my tribute to Langklaas, “my” Kgalagadi leopardess…

 

A sincere thank you to Hannes Lochner and Obie Prins that did not hesitate to forward the above images to me and to consent to their publication on my blog, when I requested them to do so! It is really appreciate guys!

 

All of the above having been said… I think it is time to visit the red dunes of the kalahari desert, even though Langklaas will not come around again…

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much, Langklaas…

 

(You might also appreciate my blog post MY DAY WITH A KALAHARI CHEETAH FAMILY.)

 

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