We were heading south towards the Sand River when we spotted the Camp Pan male lying on the causeway. Before we could reach him, Tyson, the dominant male leopard from Marthly, walked straight towards us. Tyson, bleeding from his lip and limping with a gash in his right leg, had clearly been in a fight with Camp Pan. Only when the Vomba female purposefully strutted up behind him did the reason why become clear.
Vomba is a beautiful and intelligent leopard. She is unscarred, well kept and best of all this legendary leopard has had great success as a mother. The reasons for these successes only occurred to me this last week when I watched her play Camp Pan and Tyson off against each other. The territory of these two male leopards now overlaps the Sand River. Placed directly between Camp Pan’s northern boundary and Tyson’s southern boundary, lies Vomba’s territory. It is a prime piece of river frontage with abundant game, masses of trees, cover as well as year round water. Different males, such as Camp Pan (who has also been documented mating with the Nottens Female on this blog) and Tyson who move through this territory provide her with the opportunity to increase the chances of her offspring reaching maturity by mating with these two males.
By mating with Camp Pan and Tyson, Vomba has created uncertainty as to who the real father is and, hopefully, this will reduce the risk of either males killing their potential offspring when they are discovered in time. Past rangers have witnessed Vomba implementing this ‘tactic’ before and her record is clearly successful. Her recent lineage includes:
The 2:3 Vomba Young Female (Born April 2003)
The 4:3 Tutlwa Female (Born March 2006)
The 4:4 Vomba Young Male (Born March 2006)
The 4:4 Vomba Young Female (Born March 2006)
The 3:3 Vomba Young Female (Born Sept 2008).
It is often thought that beauty and brains are a rare combination to find. In the world of leopards this might also be true and as a result this makes the Vomba female all the more special. As always we wait with baited breath to see if she produces cubs in 3 months time. If this is the case then we will certainly be able to continue to witness some of the most astoundingly beautiful leopards on the planet.