Leopards are territorial animals. Males and females will begin to establish territories once they have left their mothers and become independent. For a female it is sometimes slightly easier; as their mother usually allows them to establish a territory quite close to hers and studies have shown that young females sometimes even “inherit” a small part of their mother’s territory. For young males it isn’t always as easy, they receive a lot of pressure from the dominant male in the area, usually their father. This usually forces the young males to become quite nomadic, leaving the land they have grown to know around 2,5 – 3 years of age, and they begin to venture into unknown areas.

Flat rock male 7. KP

The young male stopped for a rest on his afternoon walkabout. He chose a large termite mound to rest on, no doubt to provide a good vantage point from which to scan the unknown area.

Flat rock male. KP

Even at the young age of three, he already shows signs of being a large male.

A few days ago we had an “unknown” young nomadic male venturing onto the northern parts of Londolozi. My tracker and I were searching for leopard that afternoon, checking all the spots we thought we may find one of the elusive cats, or at least signs of one of them in order to steer us in the right direction. Driving down into the Manyaleti River, my tracker erupted with one of the more excited shouts of “leopard” I had ever heard. Across the bank from us a leopard sat watching us. One can see a leopard time after time, but it always seems to take your breath away every time you lay your eyes on these beautiful cats. The moment I saw it I noticed this leopard wasn’t as relaxed as we would expect from the usual leopards we find in that area (The Nanga Female or the Tutlwa Female.) I thought it may be as a result of the excited shriek from Ray but it wasn’t that. Upon closer inspection I noticed it was a male, a very young male and one that we didn’t know.

Flat rock male 4. KP

His slightly drawn in stomach shows he could do with a meal. It’s tough for young nomadic leopards to stay well fed, as they do not want to spend to much time in one place, attracting unnecessary attention to themselves.

We managed to get a little closer to the leopard as he was showing interest in two klipspringers that were perched on the rocky outcrop he was walking over. Again I had a closer look and confirmed with my tracker Ray, we had certainly never seen this leopard before. He had now started to relax quite substantially, allowing us some really good viewing. His initial skittishness I would say was a combination of being out of his comfort zone combined with an ecstatic Raymond’s celebration.

Flat rock male 5. KP

Despite his steady pace, his attention is drawn to a herd of impala in the distance. Although intrigued, he continued walking, leaving the impala to browse undisturbed.

Flat rock male 1. KP

I was very impressed with the confidence of this young male and was surprised to find out he was only around 3 years of age. Based on his size and confidence I would have aged him as a little older than that.

He certainly showed all the signs of being a new leopard into an area. He was very aware his surroundings, stopping and listening to every noise he heard, possibly making sure that it wasn’t a dominant male in the area. He did have a small gash on his right front leg, most likely from a run in with another leopard, male or female, earlier on in his walk-about. He would stop every 5 minutes or so to sniff at a tree or a rock, picking up on the scent of a male or female who had previously passed by. The interesting thing was that he was walking through an area that was previously occupied by the Dudley River Bank 5:5 Male, which has now been left “open” since his unfortunate passing. Could he have worked out that there was an opening in the territory that he could potentially occupy?

Incredibly, the 5:5 young male was adopted by his grandmother, the 3:4 female, and raised by her.

Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male

Lineage
Mother Leopard
Identification
markings
Timeline
5 stories
Territory
maps
Parents
2 known
Litters
1 known
Offspring
known
Siblings
known
Videos
playlist
Flat rock male 2. KP

He sniffs at a rock that another leopard would have left their scent on, more than likely a female who had passed through the area before him.

Flat rock male 3. KP

Although he seemed confident, he was always very aware of his new surroundings. Typical behaviour for a young leopard in unchartered territory.

Thanks to the power of social media and networking amongst guides in the Greater Kruger Park Area, I managed to find out who our visitor was. It turned out to be a young male called the Flat Rock male. He was born in 2013, to the Porcupine female and the Mbavala male. He has ventured all the way from the Kruger Park south of Londolozi and to the south of the Sabi River. He must have passed through numerous dominant males’ territories to get here and I’m sure he will continue to move through more areas he’s not welcome in. All of this is part of the learning process for young males and is natures’ way of spreading the gene pool. By doing this he moves far from the area in which potential sisters or mother holds territory, meaning he has more of a chance of mating with females outside of his family.

Flat rock male 6. KP

A close up of this beautiful young male.

Flat rock male 8. KP

Looking eye-to-eye with each other for the first time. Personally I really hope we get to see him again.

Whether this leopard decides to try set up a territory around Londolozi or if it was just a passing by, it was a truly amazing sighting spending time with a young male whilst he explored this foreign land. He eventually reached our northern boundary where we watched him cross the road and carry on his walk-about, heading deeper into new uncharted territory.

Filed under Leopards Wildlife

About the Author

Kevin Power

Field Guide

Kevin hails from the small town of George, but we try not to hold that against him... After obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance at the University of Stellenbosch, Kev realised that town life wasn't for him for the moment, and ...

More stories by Kevin

18 Comments

on A New Leopard Or Just a Passerby?
    Kiki says:

    His massive bone is reminiscent of Camp Pan.

    Ian Hall says:

    Really nice photos, the very first photo at the top of the page, shows how ruthless cropping can enhance a photo.

    Kimberly Beasley says:

    He is absolutely gorgeous!!! And he does look a bit older than around 3. Why would he move on if he is in a territory that doesn’t have a dominate male now?

    Earline Rochester says:

    Gorgeous leopard! Wish he would stay so we could keep track of him.

    Mary Moy says:

    That is a good name, Flat Rock male. Beautiful boy, hope to see more of him.

    Stuart Manford says:

    Love the “horns” on his forehead, thanks for sharing.

    Cynthia House says:

    What a magnificent leopard and such wonderful photos of him.

    Jill Larone says:

    Stunning pictures Kevin, thank you for sharing! He’s such a beautiful Leopard! I hope he will be back to stay on Londolozi.

    TED SWINDON says:

    HI KEV,
    THANKS FOR A GREAT BLOG!
    YES, I AGREE HE IS A REALLY GOOD LOOKING MALE. THANKS FOR THE I.D. DETAILS, LETS HOPE HE DECIDES TO STAY!
    KEEP WELL.
    REGARDS,
    TED.

    SUZANNE MYERS says:

    OH WOW!!!!! I HOPE HE DECIDES TO STAY THERE AND FILL THE SPOT!!! SUCH A BEAUTIFUL MALE!!! HE SURE WOULD MAKE A VERY SPECIAL ADDITION!! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE BLOG….. THE PICTURES ARE FANTASTIC!!!!!

    Krishna Gailey says:

    Being a camp pan fan , I really do hope the flat rock male sets up his territory in Londolozi, where only the most beautiful and courageous leopards live. He really is a handsome boy.

    MJ Bradley says:

    Flat Rock Male has a FB page – https://www.facebook.com/Flat-Rock-Male-Leopard-825005424203146/
    He is a beautiful young leopard! Thank you for all the wonderful photos?

    Louise Johnson says:

    Thanks Kevin
    Very interesting reading to hear the background to Ray’s excitement! We are all missing Londolozi. Great to have this facility. Georgina has decided her gap year dream😉

    Adri Pretorius says:

    What a beauty!!!!

    John Ridgewell says:

    Hope this fine specimen is still around on my visit 13th Sept.!
    Anna, maybe leave him a snack!

    Bev Goodlace says:

    He also reminds me of Camp Pan – an all time favourite of ours. I do hope he stays – would love to see him when we return. Great blog and photographs.

    Zoe says:

    Gosh, Kiki and Bev, I had the same thought. The amazing Camp Pan. He is very reminiscent of him. I sure hope this gorgeous fella hangs about. He is a stunner!

    Wendy Hawkins says:

    Wow he is a magnificent Leopard & your pictures are just amazing, especially the profile picture!! Thank you & I also hope he is seen again 🙂

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