When you are fallen head over heels in love with a country and with a whole new lifestyle you want to spend as much as possible time there. Since there is a little over 9.000 km between our current hometown and our home in the future it is simply not possible to do so.
Everything that makes it feel a little bit closer is a welcome relief. That is how we found out about a WildEarth (SafariLive at the time). They are providing exactly what we, and a lot of people all over the world, needed: every day a live sunrise and a sunset game drive in a private game reserve in South Africa. It is a wonderful platform which brings the wonders of the African bush to everybody on the planet.
When we started watching, in January 2017, there were two almost one-year-old cubs from a leopardess called Karula. These were a littlest leopard cubs we had ever seen and we were smitten from the beginning. We started to follow them every day and were impressed with how these little ones were able to survive in the bush. Their names were Xongile and her brother Hosana.
One night we watched them playing with each other and chasing their mom and we said to each other: Xongile, that is a perfect name for our lodge. It means exceptionally beautiful, she is such a fierce, curious and fast-learning creature, she inspired us and we have a deep love for leopards in general.
She learned us also that the wild is not only a wondrous place, but it is unpredictable, ever changing and sometimes very dangerous. Her mother, Karula, disappeared in March 2017. The young Xongile and her brother had to grow up very quickly and learn things on their own which they would normally have learned from their mother. She and her brother did a fantastic job and they kept on inspiring us. Which made us more and more certain of calling the lodge after her.
Leopards have territories and with her mother gone, the territory was taken over by another female leopard. It was clear that this was not an ideal situation for a young leopardess who was trying to figure out how to learn, survive and settle down. Xongile had an altercation with this female in august 2017. She survived, but was never seen again.
This does not per se mean she died, but it is one of the possibilities. She was an beautiful, fierce and smart young leopardess and for all we could know she might have left the area and tried to find a territory of her own which was not been claimed at the time. If there are no cameras or if an territory is not easy accessible for humans we might have lost her, but that does not mean it ended badly. For us that means that she became a symbol of hope.
What is a better name for a safari lodge than a name that represents: beauty, fierceness, curiosity, education, smartness and hope? That is why we honor her by naming our lodge: Xongile.