Ruaha: Spotted All-Stars, Meet Furaha
By Pietro Luraschi
Quintessential beauty, unforgettable elegance, striking power, heavenly grace and a perfect balance of many qualities: these are the words that come to my mind every time I see a leopard.
Every leopard has its own way and its own character: some are shy, allowing you just a glimpse of them, some are confident in trees but disappear as soon as they climb down, some climb rocks, others prefer trees, and others again do not like much climbing and prefer the undergrowth. There are leopards absolutely relaxed with cars around, then there the one-car-leopards that vanish the moment a second car approaches. Lastly there are the leopards that we never see because they are way too wary of humans – all we find are sets of tracks here and there, but no other sign of them.
As guides of Kwihala Camp we know of a good number of leopards around us, not less than fifteen individuals, but if I have to do the maths, there are probably five of them that count for the 80% of the sightings – our five ‘Spotted All-Stars’.
Furaha, which means ‘joy’ in Swahili, is 4 years old, and at time of writing is probably busy with a litter of cubs that she has not yet revealed to the world.
We have known her since she was 4 months old. In the Sokwe Forest we spotted a shy female up a tree no more then 8 metres from the road, and by her side, a small furry cub as shy as her mother.”
Their impala kill tucked up on a branch kept them there for four days, and then one night the mother went down, killed another ewe and brought it up the same tree where for another four days the leopards enjoyed their meal. That gave little Furaha the time to slowly overcome her fear of vehicles and has made her a real joy for us since. She is a great fan of sausage trees, which are by far her favourite trees to rest in. She does not use trees much when there is good cover on the ground, but she climbs more and more as the dry season advances.
Sightings of these “Spotted All-Stars” are often the highlight of visitors’ experiences here in Ruaha, with their effortless combination of fierce grace and power, and they certainly are among my favourite animals to photograph.
If you would like to spend some time at Kwihala Camp and have a chance to see these beautiful creatures in person please contact your trusted travel agent orenquire with us.
Pietroworks as a safari guide in southern Tanzania for six months and devotes the other half of the year to private customers he accompanies to different African countries from north to south, but always going through his beloved East Africa. Hispassion for Africa took him for the first time to the continent as a volunteer in the Tarangire Lion Project, doing researchon the lion population in the Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania. For years he has worked as a manager and guide, but then he gradually left management to devote himself exclusively to working as a guide.