It was about this time last year that we said our final goodbye to the 3:4 Female as she slipped into that immortal realm of great Londolozi Leopards. This autumn it is with immense sadness that we report the loss of the Sunset-Bend Female as she joins that exclusive club.
Wild Leopards like all cats are private in death. It’s generally impossible to know when an obituary is due. When they are not seen for some time and their favourite walks no longer bear evidence of their movements – then I guess it’s time to suspect the worst. We know she was mauled by the Sparta lionesses as she tried to steal a meal. What desperation she must have been in. A subsequent sighting confirmed our worst fears that the extent of her injuries would prove fatal.
Recently it’s been a bit hollow driving through the ancient grove of leadwood trees on Monza drive knowing that she just isn’t around the next corner. The Sunset-Bend female is gone and for a little while it’s going to feel that she’s taken some soul from her territory too.
She would be 17 now, a good age for a great leopard. She was large and golden, relaxed and unhurried. She was a leopard of leisure, deliberate and sure. She was also possibly the best mother we’ve had in recent times and her legacy is a Londolozi littered with her genetic magnificence: Vomba, Xidulu and Ravenscourt to name just a few.
Beyond that legacy, her relationship with us has contributed greatly to the preservation of this land and the success of its human inhabitants. The choice she made to share her life with us has helped create an appreciation of wild spaces by so many and helped advance the wilderness frontier. Those sunlit afternoons were always about more than just photographs, and for that Londolozi and its visitors owe Sunset-Bend a massive debt of gratitude. Thank You.
So it is farewell Sunset-Bend. You’ll not read this and never know fully the high regard in which you were held, but as your many admirers read this perhaps those warm feelings of love will pass into the ether -wherever you may be I hope those sentiments pass your way.
Written by: Tom Imrie
Photography by: Gavin Lautenbach
Filmed by: Rich Laburn