Clicking through a few old photographs recently, I was shocked at just how many leopards have come and gone during my tenure at Londolozi. Having said that, the number wasn’t anything abnormal; a certain amount of turnover is to be expected in a wild leopard population, and over 8 years of course many of what used to be familiar faces would have departed this earth.
I guess I just didn’t expect so many prominent leopards to no longer be with us.

The population has in fact undergone a complete makeover since I started here. None of the territorial leopards from then are still with us, and the young ones of the time have grown up, established territories and now go by new names.

Perusing the old photos, I thought it might be nice to travel briefly down memory lane, and revisit a few household names from the past.

See how many of these individuals you remember…

Camp Pan Leopard Jt

The Camp Pan male. For many years the undisputed ruler of central Londolozi, this male was notorious for walking long distances overnight, presenting a superb tracking challenge in the morning. Many times when on fresh tracks, a radio call would come in to say that the leopard had just been found a couple of kilometres away, testament to the speed at which he used to move when patrolling. Being father to the Mashaba female, and grandfather to the Nhlanguleni female, his genes are still very much a part of the Leopards of Londolozi.

The King of Londolozi in his day; an enormous male whose offspring still inhabit the reserve.

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Camp Pan 4:3 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
7 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Tu Tones Male Leopard Jt

One of the Camp Pan male’s offspring, the Tu-Tones male was a big leopard like his father. In an unusual turn of events, this male did not end up being forced out of his territory (his brother the Makhotini male moved off), partly we think because of a lack of genetic pressure; no related females were surviving in the area. Depending largely on the Camp Pan male to defend territory, the Tu-Tones male sadly struggled after the Piva male moved in, growing weaker and weaker until it is believed he was eventually killed by a troop of baboons.

The Tu Tones male astounded everyone by establishing his territory within his father Camp Pan's territory.

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Tu-Tones 3:2 Male

Lineage
River Female
Identification
markings
Timeline
5 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Three Leopards Jt

Both the Camp Pan male (back) and the Tu-Tones male (centre) used to consort with the Tamboti female (front) at the same time. Being related, it was simply believed that the costs of fighting didn’t outweigh the chances of genetic success if they both mated with her.

Piva Male Leopard Jt

The Piva male as a young leopard, the distinctive ring of spots on his forehead clearly visible here. This sighting was in the deep south of Londolozi, before we properly knew who this male was, and he was still nomadic. We had been sitting with a hyena about 2km from where the leopard was, but the alarm calls of an impala herd that the Piva male had had a go at alerted the hyena, who raced off to investigate. We simply followed the hyena and were led straight to the leopard.

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Piva 3:2 Male
2010 - 2017

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
32 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Marthly Leopard Jt

Another male who once roamed a large portion of Londolozi; the Marthly male, easily identified by the chunk out of his right ear. Once controlling the entire stretch of the Sand River on Londolozi, down to the Maxabene riverbed and north to the Manyelethi, this male sired a number of cubs during his tenure, the Nkoveni and Tatowa females among them. Like the Camp Pan male, his genes are still very much a part of the current leopard population.

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This male moved in from the north of the reserve in 2010, and was instantly recognisable by his unique tuft of fur at the back of his neck.

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Marthly 3:2 Male

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

The Nottens female, one of Londolozi’s oldest leopards on record, who died around her 18th birthday. A descendant of the original mother leopard, the Nottens female occupied territory far to the south and was instantly recognisable by her pale colouration.

The first cub of the legendary 3:4 female, the Nottens female grew to be the oldest recorded leopard on Londolozi (18yrs)

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Nottens 5:5 Female

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
11 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
8 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
44 Male Leopard Jt

The 4:4 male was my favourite. Enigmatic at best, we would often go weeks without a sighting of him, even though we would find his tracks and hear him calling regularly. Preferring deep drainage lines to roads and never being too comfortable around vehicles, photographs of him were hard to come by, and this one was only possible because he had been treed by the Tsalala pride. Sadly he died in late 2016 as a result of wounds inflicted by the Mhangeni lionesses, daughters of the Tsalala females.

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
10 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
0 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Gowrie Male Leopard Jt

The Gowrie male shifts a large warthog kill to a more comfortable feeding position. This male moved in from the north, gradually applying pressure onto the then-dominant Marthly male and forcing him further and further south. To this day we don’t know what happened to the Gowrie male, we simply stopped seeing him. As with many leopard deaths in the north of the property however, the Tsalala pride remain prime suspects.

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The Gowrie male first appeared in the Sabi Sands around 2011. Judging by his size, he is estimated to have been born around 2005/6.

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Gowrie 2:2 Male

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

The Tugwaan male, also known as the Bicycle Crossing male or Short Tail male (after his mother, as his tail was actually normal length). Patrolling Londolozi’s south from East of the Sand River to the western boundary, this male lived to a ripe-old-age, fathering a number of prominent individuals along the way, including the Ndzanzeni female who is still aline and well. Although lineages are generally accepted to only flow through female leopards, this male was still a descendant of the original Mother Leopard.

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A beautiful male with a distinctive “V” shape on his forehead, the Tugwaan male was dominant for many years over a huge territory.

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Tugwaan 5:4 Male

Lineage
Unknown
Identification
markings
Timeline
4 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Tutlwa Female Leopard Marula Jt

The Tutlwa female, probably my favourite female leopard of Londolozi, with an impala kill in a marula tree opposite Varty Camp. This female was seldom seen, occupying territory to the north and west of the Londolozi camps. In winter of 2016 while suspected of denning a cub in the Sand River, she was involved in a scuffle with the Tsalala lionesses while in what was believed to be her den-site at the time. She was never seen again after this incident and it is believed that she must have died of her wounds.

An enigmatic female not often encountered, this leopard lives to the north of the Sand River.

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Tutlwa 4:3 Female

Lineage
Sunsetbend
Identification
markings
Timeline
20 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
7 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Ximpalapala Female Leopard Jt

A very rare photograph of the notoriously skittish Ximpalapala female, mother of the Tatowa female. This leopard would descend a tree and scuttle off if a vehicle got to within 100m of her, but fortunately in this sighting she had been mating with the Gowrie male, and seemed somewhat placated as a result.

She was born to the Short Tailed female in 2002 in the same litter as the Tugwaan male, but since then records are sketchy at best.

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Ximpalapala 4:4 Female

Lineage
Short Tail Female
Identification
markings
Timeline
8 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
1 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Unknown Male Leopard Jt

I don’t know who this male is (and if anyone can help with an ID that’d be great). We were sitting on a nearby crest with some elephants early one morning, when the clear sound of leopards fighting reached our ears. Ranger Melvin Sambo reckoned he knew exactly where it was coming from, and racing down the hill, we caught sight of this skittish male who had just been mauled by the dominant Camp Pan male. There was time for about three quick photos before he rushed off, probably nervous about the vehicle but more likely desperate to escape the Camp Pan male. No one ever saw him again on Londolozi.

Vomba Female Jt

The Vomba female, many rangers’ and guests’ favourite, her rich gold coat a shining beacon of her place in the legacy of the Sunset Bend female. The Vomba female’s territory sat squarely around the Londolozi camps, and she would regularly be seen from the camp decks, or even bumped into walking along the paths at night. She disappeared in 2013, possibly also killed by the Tsalala pride.

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The Vomba female was a leopard with an instantly recognisable rich golden coat. She spent much of her life around the Londolozi Camps.

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Vomba 3:2 Female

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

Involved Leopards

Camp Pan 4:3 Male

Camp Pan 4:3 Male

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Gowrie 2:2 Male

Gowrie 2:2 Male

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Marthly 3:2 Male

Marthly 3:2 Male

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Piva 3:2 Male

Piva 3:2 Male

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Ximpalapala 4:4 Female

Ximpalapala 4:4 Female

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Vomba 3:2 Female

Vomba 3:2 Female

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Tugwaan 5:4 Male

Tugwaan 5:4 Male

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Tu-Tones 3:2 Male

Tu-Tones 3:2 Male

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Nottens 5:5 Female

Nottens 5:5 Female

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Robson's 4:4 Male

Robson's 4:4 Male

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Tutlwa 4:3 Female

Tutlwa 4:3 Female

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About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile

31 Comments

on Photographic Journal: Remembering Leopards Now Gone

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

This bring back so many memories. Camp Pan was always my favourite. I still remember when I’ve heard that Tu Tones was killed by baboons. I actually shed a few tears. We saw Vomba in Varty car park making her way around the stores coming back from a drive in the evening. Everytime we stand in Varty car park we remember her. They were all special leopards.

Ian Hall

Cracking photos

James Tyrrell

Thanks Ian!

Darlene Knott

Beautiful photos and interesting history of the magnificent leopards of Londolozi. Thanks for sharing, James!

James Tyrrell

You’re welcome Darlene!

Denise Vouri

Seems Londolozi is leopards’ paradise and you’ve been fortunate to observe most of the main residents. The quest for territory is never ending and there are tragic outcomes, all part of the animal cycle. Your photography records are stellar and I look forward to future updates.

James Tyrrell

Hi Denise,
It will be interesting to see which leopards are in a “memory lane” post in 5 years time…

Mary Beth Wheeler

So many memories! Gowrie’s golden eyes, Tu Tones’ pink nose, the warthog kill we witnessed by the Marthly male, Vomba’s golden coat, and regal Camp Pan – and so many others! So lucky to have shared time with them all!

Michael Kalm

Shocking but – Whether it’s with our dogs or “our” leopards (I know they are not ours) I think the short lives of these magnificent creatures teach us how to live life fully, with no regrets, no rueing the transitoriness of life, but just enjoying the miracle of the brief time we have here. After all, if we live 100 years, and divide that but the 13.8 billion years of the current age of the universe, we get the same answer mathematically that we would if we divided the brief life span of the leopard or the dog into 13.8 billion – essentially zero. But we know it’s not zero, because it’s real, it’s special and it’s to be treasured and savored.
Best regards,
Michael

Michael Kalm

Oops! I meant “by” 13.8 billion years, not “but” 13.8 billion years. Not enough coffee yet!

James Tyrrell

Hi Michael,
Thanks for the comments (I fully relate to the typos from not enough coffee!).
Best regards

Anthony Goldman

Wonderful article James-brings back so many wonderful memories and I have been fortunate to see and photograph almost all of these leopards .Londolozi is indeed such a special place for leopards.We had a wonderful sighting of the Ximpalapala female a few years ago and did get some great shots highlighting her beautiful eyes .

James Tyrrell

Hi Tony,

Lucky one! I think I can count the number of photographic sightings i had of her on the fingers of one hand. Once she was treed by a pack of wild dogs which I think after three years was the only photo I had managed to get of her!

Joanne Wadsworth

Rich history along with incredible images! The circle of life continues…..

Rich Laburn

Wow great post with so many incredible leopards of old. Quite a trip down memory lane

Frank Kohlenstein

Great photos and history! Was recently there and got to see Tailess before she was injured, any news on her? Also witnessed the Birmingham Boyz Brawl, how are they getting along after their skirmish? Thanks and really enjoy your posts!

James Tyrrell

Hi Frank,
Sadly she passed away of her wounds; her body was discovered yesterday.
We’ll be running a farewell post in the next day or two.
Best regards

Marinda Drake

James it is so sad. An end of an era.

Riandi Appelgryn

HI James,
I am an avid reader of this blog and love the updates. thanks for this leopard post… very interesting indeed.
Very Sad to hear about the tailless lioness! she was one of my favourites… will be looking out for this farewell post in the next few days.
any news on the newest visitors from the North Thamba and Hosana?
Regards

James Tyrrell

HI Riandi,
I am on leave at the moment but I did hear a young male leopard had been seen in the north of Londolozi, which I can only assume will be one of them…

Laura Eberly

Great summary, thank you so much! Love the photo of the 3. Very unusual!!

James Tyrrell

Hi Laura.
Thanks. It just happened to be a very lucky moment as they walked past!

Cynthia House

I so enjoyed reading about these beautiful animals which are my favourite of the big cats. What I found heartening and especially interesting was that although some died of their wounds or disappeared a surprising number of them lived long lives. Thank you for the wonderful stories and photos, just so engaging.

James Tyrrell

Hi Cynthia,
Yes a few of them lives to a ripe old age. The Camp Pan and Tugwaan males and the Nottens female in particular…
Best

Stan Watson

I have always admired the leopard as the most beautiful and admirable of the big cats. The photo journal on Londolozi has reaffirmed that opinion. I realize that as part of Nature’s grand scheme, this cat sometimes meets an untimely end. Be that as it may, this realization does not in any way lessen my respect for this magnificent animal. Thank you, for your excellent blog of which I hope to see more in the near future.

James Tyrrell

Hi Stan,
Thanks for your comments. Leopard are indeed remarable creatures!
Hope to hear more from you in future.
Best Regards

Mike Ryan

4:4 Robson and Mashaba young female for mr

Michael & Terri Klauber

Thanks for the memories! They all have contributed so much to our experiences and to the environment of Londolozi!

Mj Bradley

Nothing quite like the Sabi Sands.. While there are places with leopards, the Sabi Sands knows the history of their leopards and I think that has helped create a large following.. I didn’t see these leopards of Londolozi in person, but I feel like I have through the blogs and photos shared by this fabulous group of guides/photographers.. Thank you for sharing your little corner of paradise with all of us.

Callum Evans

Wow, so many leopards have come and gone, it really puts everything into perspective. Didn’t the Bicyle Crossing Males territory extend onto Mala Mala?

Bruce Finocchio

My favorite Leopard was the Maxabene Female. I was under her spell and just entranced with her. So much so, I wrote a blog post about my love affair with her. https://dreamcatcherimages.net/2016/08/01/the-leopard-of-londolozi/

I also took photographs of the Bicycle Crossing Male way back in 2005 when he was an upcoming young powerful male that soon would make his mark. With his recent passing last summer, all the living leopard connections I made during my Sept 2005 visit came to end.

Sad, yet that’s circle of life. I need to come back and make new leopard connections.

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