I started writing this blog a while ago but had to take it out of the lineup after the untimely death of the Robson’s 4:4 male. I wanted to share with the blog readers a bit more of his unique story, at least from my perspective. It is not unusual for male leopards to hold a large territory – it allows them access to multiple female leopards – but the fact that the 4:4 male was comparatively much smaller in size than his neighbouring counterparts made him a fascinating leopard to observe.

This was one of the first times I had observed the 4:4 male and he unusually afforded us a rare opportunity to photograph him.

This rangy male was an enigma, arriving on Londolozi in the mid to latter parts of 2014 and staying mainly in the western areas.

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Robson's 4:4 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
7 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

Despite his unfortunate death last October after a mauling by the Ntsevu pride, I still find it relevant to examine the large area occupied by this small and underestimated cat. Since his death, much has been discussed about his territorial gains, his small physique and his skittish behavioural traits. However, I would like to examine the size of what was once his territory in comparison to that of the much larger Piva, Inyathini and Anderson males, and how his death has led to a huge shift in territorial boundaries of these three, as well as the introduction of the Flat Rock male.

The 4:4 male smells a scent left by a passing leopard by using a process known as the flehmen grimace. This allows him to analyse and transfer the scent onto his organ of Jacobson.

After an interaction with the Inyathini male, the Piva male can be seen salivating as he aggressively scent marked his territory and vocalised his presence.

7
Piva 3:2 Male
2010 - present

Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.

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Piva 3:2 Male

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
18 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

The Inyathini male is spotted lying on the cool sand at one of his favourite watering holes.

9
Inyathini 3:3 Male
2008 - present

Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
11 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

The Anderson male; the largest leopard viewed on Londolozi.

9
Anderson 4:4 Male
2008 - present

Unofficially the biggest leopard in the Sabi Sands, the Anderson male is an absolutely enormous individual in north western Londolozi.

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Anderson 4:4 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
9 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

The Flat Rock male stares into the camera as he sits perched high in a Marula tree. This leopard has been spending a large amount of time around the Sand River west of the camps, the core territory of the late 4:4 male.

4
Flat Rock 3:2 Male
2013 - present

A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.

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Flat Rock 3:2 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
8 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist

Little was known about the 4:4 male when first viewed on Londolozi at the end of 2014, which made it exciting for all rangers and trackers. The possibility of new animals arriving from the Kruger National Park and surrounds is something we all value highly and keeps game viewing here really interesting for us. He was seldom seen and it stayed like that throughout his existence on Londolozi. He was so small that his tracks could at first glance get mistaken for those of a female, and even once spotted from a distance it could be assumed that he was an adult female, not the full-grown male that he was. His nervous behaviour made it a very challenging task for trackers and rangers to track him down and even view him from the vehicle.

The 4:4 male, steals a bushbuck kill from the Nkoveni female where he dragged it into a thick bush and continued to feed.

At the time of his death, the Piva male occupied a relatively large territory, extending over the boundary with Mala Mala, rarely venturing close to the central parts of Londolozi or around the lodge. The Inyathini male, also skittish upon first viewing on Londolozi, occupied the area south and west of the Piva male. The Anderson male, widely regarded as the largest leopard in the Sabi Sands, occupied the territory north of the river, extending to the northern most parts of the Sabi Sands. With these much larger males surrounding the 4:4 male’s territory, how did he manage to occupy such a large area?

The red shows the territory of the 4:4 male. Blue is the Anderson male’s territory, green is the Piva male, yellow is the Inyathini male.

The last photograph I got of the 4:4 male. This sighting didn’t last long as he descended from the termite mound upon our arrival and walked off into a thick area where we were unable to follow.

After the death of the 4:4 male, territorial boundaries began to change quite quickly.
The Piva male expanded his territory much further west and is now regularly seen scent marking around the Londolozi camps and even further west from there. The Inyathini male has been able to move his territory further north into some areas previously occupied by the Piva male. Although still comparatively unrelaxed around the vehicles, his growing territory is allowing us greater viewing opportunities of him. The absence of the 4:4 male in the northern sections of the reserve has led to the steady encroachment south of the Anderson male, also allowing a greater frequency of sightings. The availability of the central area of what was the 4:4 male’s territory allowed for the establishment of the new Flat Rock male.

One can see in the map that the death of the 4:4 male resulted in an inevitable shift and expansion of territories for the Inyathini male (yellow), Piva male (green) and the Anderson male (blue). The incumbent Flat Rock male (orange) has taken over only a relatively small portion of that area, probably due to his youth.

The regal Piva male walks towards our vehicle. Having previously centred his territory further east, he is now seen around the Londolozi camps as a result of the 4:4 male’s death.

The Inyathini male, previously shy and reclusive, is being viewed more and more often since his territorial expansion northwards.

The Flat Rock male has been seen mating with multiple females since his arrival. Here, he slakes his thirst whilst the Mashaba female grooms herself in the background. One of his first acts upon claiming the 4:4 male’s old territory was to kill the litter the Mashaba female had just birthed and who the 4:4 male almost certainly fathered.

The Anderson male rests in a Marula tree after consuming most of a hoisted warthog kill. He now patrols most of Londolozi’s northern reaches.

These shifts in territorial boundaries amongst male leopards is certainly the same thing that has been occurring for centuries. We are just privileged that with the unrivalled viewing opportunities afforded to us and the detailed record keeping of the leopard’s movements, we are able to see clearly the impact that one male’s death has on the surrounding individuals.

No-one will ever know how the 4:4 male maintained such a large territory given how small he was compared to his neighbours, and neither he nor they will ever be able to tell us.

All I know is that many of us respect him all the more for it.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

Involved Leopards

Robson's 4:4 Male

Robson's 4:4 Male

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Piva 3:2 Male

Piva 3:2 Male

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Flat Rock 3:2 Male

Flat Rock 3:2 Male

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Anderson 4:4 Male

Anderson 4:4 Male

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Inyathini 3:3 Male

Inyathini 3:3 Male

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About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

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20 Comments

on David amongst Goliaths: The 4:4 Male

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Vicky Auchincloss
Guest

They are such magnificent animals, and each loss saddens us.

Callum Gowar

Thanks Vicky. They are indeed incredible animals and is always saddening to see one pass away, especially after generating somewhat of a personal bond with each individual.

Alex
Guest

Great blog,the 4:4 male was able to maintain such a large territory because his neighbours all had fairly large territories themselves and no one really pushed him.In 2012-2013 he tried to set up a territory in Simbambili,but when Anderson arrived around mid 2013 he was chased immediately from the north.He got lucky with the demise of the Marthly male and later with the death of the Gowrie male and got a big piece of land without really fighting for it.If i remember correctly,around sept 2015 after the Gowrie male died the 4:4 male met Anderson around the Sand River and he fled,so he wasn’t the one to fight a bigger male to protect his land and his females(Mashaba had small cubs at the time).In my opinion he got lucky,did well to patrol a big territory but wasn’t really pushed, with Piva expanding east,Inyathini also expanding SE and Anderson already with a huge territory slowly expanding in all directions.With time,i have no doubt that 4:4 male’s territory would have got progressively smaller.

Callum Gowar

A big thanks for your extremely informative and helpful response to this post. It is great to receive a different perspective. Kind regards

Vin Beni
Guest

Thanks for the update and clarification.
Can you tell me anything about the Ndzanzeni female?

Callum Gowar

Hi Vin. Good to hear from you and thanks for your words. She is doing fine and so is her young male cub now approaching one year old. She has regularly been seen exploring the deep south-eastern parts of our property where the Inyathini male is seen.

Jill Larone
Guest

The 4:4 male was so beautiful and a sad loss indeed. A wonderful tribute to such an incredible Leopard, Callum, and a great blog and stunning pictures of the beautiful male Leopards of Londolozi!

Callum Gowar

Many thanks for your kind words Jill.

Lynne
Guest

Thank you for a very interesting story on the magnificent leopards at Londolozi.

Callum Gowar

Thank you for reading Lynne.

Marc G.
Guest

Thanks for all the useful info. Guess the “Leopards of Londolozi” section needs to be updated as the Robson’s 4:4 male timeline (from July 2017) still states “As far as we know Robson’s 4:4 Male continues to survive and is roaming the Londolozi reserve.”

James Tyrrell

Thanks Marc,
We overlooked that, will update asap.

Sid
Guest

Great article Callum and awesome shots of Anderson. The dynamics are fascinating. Can wait to get back in April.

Callum Gowar

Many thanks Sid. We are incredibly privileged to follow these beautiful animals on a daily basis.

Mishal
Guest

A great article .4:4 and the legendary Dudley RiverBank were two small yet impressive males its always nice to read about these either of these deceased beloved leopards .Thank you for this piece If I am not wrong Mashaba young female is the daughter of 4:4 male .Has she been given a new name yet ?

Trevor Patrick
Guest

Great blog Callum. How lucky am I that my favourite place on this planet has so many Leopards its a challenge keeping up with events. Its really difficult not to become attached to them but it really hurts when the law of nature takes its toll.

Farsi
Guest

hey
great blog
came across it when looking for the differences between leopards and cheetahs. It would be great if you could explain what the numbers given to each leopard mean. thanks

James Tyrrell

Hi Farsi,

Check out these two links to understand the spot patterns:

http://blog.londolozi.com/2012/04/11/how-to-identify-individual-leopards/
http://leopards.londolozi.com/about/

Regards

Rich Laburn

Thanks for the update Cal, great to see a story on these impressive male leopards.

Ronald Cirillo

Great shot and stories!!! Any “bull nose” seen. How’s the wedding plans going?
Ron & Kay of the Londoloonies

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