Male Leopards steal the show every time! There is just something about the brut power and the way they go about their business. Their thickly set neck muscles and broad shoulder blades lay testimony to their gorgeous physique. They carry with them a certain air of mystical nobility.
The male Leopard dynamic’s at Londolozi sits on a knife edge. The area boasts an impressive 10 males that are regularly seen. 5 of these individuals are 2,5 years or younger meaning that they too young to influence territorial dominance at the moment. That leaves 5 males vying for possession of the central Sabi Sands, some of Africa’s most prime leopard real estate.
A beautiful male with a distinctive “V” shape on his forehead, the Tugwaan male was dominant for many years over a huge territory.
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.
This creates a platform upon which we are seeing some fascinating male-male interactions. In the south we have the Short Tail 5:4 Male, a male whose territory extends so far south that he has to be an Olympian just to go from one boundary to another. In the northern parts of Londolozi the Marthly 3:2 Male (aka Tyson) is looking to extend his quarters south, however he is now facing a challenge on his eastern front from the massive male, a relatively new arrival to Londolozi, known as Emsagwen.
One of the bigger male leopards seen on Londolozi in recent years, the Emsagwen male wasn’t often encountered.
The notorious, and ever present Camp Pan 4:3 Male seems to be under the most threat and his age may well be catching up on him. From the north this assault takes the form of the Marthly Male, from the north-east Emsagwen and from the south Shorty. But his strongest contender and challenger for his crown appears to be coming from the Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male. Just a couple of days ago these two were seen squaring off against each other and the next day Camp Pan donned a new set of facial scars to signal that he took quite a beating! Tracks indicate that he appears to be spending a lot of his time east of us and on the other hand we are having near-daily encounters with the 5:5 Male around the vicinity of camp…an area previously reserved for sole rights of Camp Pan!
Although I am a little sad to witness what may be the end of an era I am also excited about the prospects of having a Mother Leopard descendant at the realms of central Londolozi. Remember, Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male is great-great-great grandson of the famous Mother Leopard and his grandmother was the widely loved 3:4 Female.
Incredibly, the 5:5 male was adopted as a cub by his grandmother, the 3:4 female, and raised by her to adulthood.
Born to the Tugwaan female in August 1992, this leopard would redefine the relationship between man and wild cat.
But I can assure you that Camp Pan has not sung his final song and will not lay down his arms easily. I reckon he still has some time left in him; however from an offspring perspective I have to be somewhat controversial and say that I hope his time comes sooner rather then later. The reason I say this is that with so many males running around all the cubs that are being born are arriving into a warzone. In the past 5 months we have seen Vomba, Mxabeni, Nottens and Tutlwa all possibly losing litters before we even get a glimpse of the youngsters and I think the male saga is to blame!
The Vomba female was a leopard with an instantly recognisable rich golden coat. She spent much of her life around the Londolozi Camps.
This small female leopard was found around the dry river bed in the heart of Londolozi known as the Maxabene.
Males are coming into the area and in an attempt to take the thrown they kill any cub not sired by them This would explain why the Nyaleti Female, whom we have heard has cubs, has moved her territory temporarily north of our boundary, so as to ensure that whilst these male-male conflicts are occurring, her precious litter survives. Simply put, she is removing herself from the battleground!
A large devastating hunter, this powerful leopard was a descendent of Saseke Female, a territorial female who resided north of Londolozi
So we all watch in interest to see how the Male Leopard saga turns out. I must admit I’m fighting in the corner of the 5:5 male. I think that sometimes change is needed to any regime! Let me know what you think of my thoughts? Are you a fan of Camp Pan or would you like to see new blood in the ring?
Which leopards do you think will hold onto dominance or become territorial. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.