The argument as to which male leopard is most deserving of the ‘greatest leopard ever’ title has been ongoing for many years now within the ranging team at Londolozi. Some of the more recent additions to the team are in awe of the brawny Marthly male and his prowess as a fighter, while others are of the opinion that the Tugwaan male, with his good looks and success with female leopards is the clear favourite. However, some of the longer standing rangers have not forgotten the Camp Pan male and his incredible 7 year reign over a massive territory that spanned almost half of Londolozi – a huge territory in an area with one of the highest density of leopards in the world.

Camp Pan Male Portrait

The regal Camp Pan

He is now almost 14 years old, and it is obvious that he is being forced to consolidate, and focus on a much smaller area, with pressure being felt on all sides by other younger males. Mating rights is one on the reasons why male leopards are so fierce in their endeavor for dominance, and we all wondered if his time as a dominant breeding male was drawing to a close. However, perhaps it is not quite time to count him out just yet.

He was seen very recently lying in a marula tree with the remains of an impala hoisted in the top branches, and on closer inspection it became apparent that he was staring intently into a thicket below him, a thicket concealing the tiny new cubs of the Tamboti female. Although she had mated with several males during her estrus cycle 3 months prior to their birth, it was clear that she was convinced that the Camp Pan male was the father of these new additions to the famous Sunset Bend lineage. She led them directly under the tree, and the somewhat smug looking male leapt down to investigate the tumbling balls of fur. In a rather uncharacteristic display of tolerance at a kill, he allowed the female to climb into the tree and coax the cubs up after her – their first experience of a solid meal of meat.

Camp pan getting his fill

Camp Pan on the kill – Jo Lynne Jones

The mom lowers the kill from the tree in order for the cubs to feed

Tamboti having a feed – Cathy Thornhill

After a number of attempts to scale the large marula, they finally made it up, but rapidly decided that they were way too high up for their liking and after much mewing and clambering from branch to branch, they both tumbled unceremoniously head first into a bush, just meters from the Camp Pan male’s huge head. The Tamboti female, somewhat resigned to her offspring’s arboreal clumsiness, led them to suckle in the shade nearby.

The cubs realise that there is not much for them so decide to climb trees instead

The cubs clumsily climbing the tree – Cathy Thornhill

'I'm not stuck..i promise'

‘I’m not stuck..I promise’ – Jo Lynne Jones

Cub feeding on the scraps in the tree after being told off by Camp pan

Eventually they get up and start to feed on scraps – Cathy Thornhill

The second cub wanting to get a piece of the meat

The second cub wanting to get a piece of the meat too – Cathy Thornhill

So it seems the big old male is not ready to back down in the constant struggle for territory and rights to father cubs, and let us not forget his impressive past. He has already fathered over 15 litters to at least 6 different females and his fighting records are just as impressive. The last time the Dudley 5:5 male challenged him, the younger, inexperienced leopard was discovered cowering up a telephone pole on our eastern boundary. The last time the Marthly male challenged him, the slightly smaller male was left with a tear in his ear that resembles the aftermath of a lawnmower accident. The Tugwaan male learned his lesson years ago, and keeps out Camp Pan’s path, disappearing into the Tugwaan drainage at the first sign of his imposing northern neighbour.

Camp Pan coming in to feed and growling at the cubs

Camp Pan coming in to feed and growling at the cubs, still a strict father – Jo Lynne Jones

More growling, showing his dominance

More growling, showing his dominance – Jo Lynne Jones

What ever challenges face this leopard in the future, the present is clear. He is a father… again, and his familiar territorial calls and long trails of footprints left behind on the pathways from his nightly patrols, indicates that he is more than up to the challenge of protecting this new litter, and any others that happen to come along…

Down from the tree, finally and cuddling mom.

Down from the tree, finally and cuddling mom. – Jo Lynne Jones

Written by Helen Young

Photographed by Cathy Thornhill and Jo Lynne Jones – Londolozi guests

About the Author

Helen Young

Ranger

Helen guided at Londolozi from 2007 to 2013, coming to the reserve after pursuing her post-graduate studies in conservation management. A natural story-teller with a fondness for clapping loudly round the fire during guitar nights, Helen now works as head researcher and content ...

View Helen's profile

15 Comments

on The Camp Pan Male still has it!

Laura
Guest

I love Campy!!

Rae
Guest

Oh. My. God. What a sighting and those pictures are just incredible!! Great job, Cathy and Jo Lynne!!

rob keulemans
Guest

Wow, beautiful experience and beautiful pictures again.
When will I be in the [position to pay a visit to Londolozi? I cannot wait!

Arden Zalman
Guest

I have pictures of the Camp Pan Male all over the walls of my bedroom so I can gaze upon his magnificent being every morning & night. We spent some wonderful moments with him in March.

JO LYNNE JONES
Guest

Helen,
As usual, a beautiful job of teaching us about the history of the animals we have the privilege of seeing when we are at Londolozi. Thanks to Enoch and you, we were able to get up close and personal for an hour and 10 minutes.

Glad you are back from break. Hope James’ FOMO wasn’t catching.

Jo Lynne

vin
Guest

Yosha! Finally! It’s been decades since I’ve last heard of him! (oops, just months actually, just felt like that to me lol). Thanks for this Londolozi! 🙂

Lynn Rattray
Guest

Amazing. Such great pics! Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to be there Sept. 1

Kate Neill

The Varty Camp staff and the whole Londolozi family look forward to having you Lynn!

Regards, Kate

Rich Laburn
Guest

Incredible pics of Camp Pan, thank you for sharing.

Shardool Kulkarni
Guest

15 llitters with 6 females? OMG! And how many of those cubs survived? And I thought his only mates were the Vomba, Maxabeni and Tamboti Female! Which other females did he have cubs with? And did any of them make it? Truly a legendary male.

Evette Hartig
Guest

One foot in the suitcase ready to head back in August…can’t await to see Camp Pan again…he is a magnificent cat. Well written Helen and great shots Jo Lynne and Cathy.

Bev Goodlace
Guest

Beautiful photographs of my favourite leopard and his latest progeny! So pleased to see Camp Pan doing so well. Cannot wait to get back to Londolozi in two weeks time.

Joyce
Guest

So glad to see Camp Pan- a splendid animal, that makes the other males pale in comparison.

Tina Greeff
Guest

Wonderful photos – love to see Leopards in action.Story very well written.Look forward to more in the future

Cathy Thornhill
Guest

If it had not been for Helen-the author of this blog and our ranger and our Tracker Enoch, we would never have gotten the images! What expertise they both have! Still cannot believe that Enoch could hear the signals that lead Helen to drive to this spot. And then Helen worked to get us in position to do the photos. They are two of the reasons that our trip to Londolozi was so amazing!

Comments are closed.

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