Despite being pushed out of his riverfront territory by the Marthly male, the Camp Pan male is still a force to be reckoned with among the leopards of central Londolozi. We hardly see the Tugwaan male anymore (also known as the Short Tail or Bicycle Crossing Male); he operates to our South and East these days, we think in part due to pressure from the enormous Camp Pan male.
A large male leopard will never miss an opportunity to steal a kill from a female leopard. At almost twice the size of the females, large males have no difficulty in forcing them off their meal. It is not that the males are lazy, as they can be unjustly labelled, it is simply a smart and economic use of energy, using size to bully their way to food instead of going through the arduous and often unsuccessful act of actually hunting for it.
The Tamboti female and her cub were recently found by tracker Bennet Mathonsi and ranger Richard Ferrier on an impala kill in the South East of Londolozi.
By evening, who should be there as well but the Camp Pan male, hogging the kill for himself. The female and her cub already had full bellies, so probably weren’t as disappointed as they may have been had they not had anything to eat yet.
We arrived in the sighting late in the afternoon. The kill was still on the ground and all three leopards were lying down snoozing.
Movement in the bushes to our left announced the arrival of a small hyena. The Tamboti cub was first to react, scurrying up a nearby knobthorn
tree. The Camp Pan male jumped up next, grabbing the kill by the neck and heading straight for the same knobthorn. The cub meanwhile jump down and scurried off into the bushes, followed by its mother.
The hyena that was approaching was young and too little to pose a real threat to the male leopard, and would most likely not have been able to force the Camp Pan male off his kill, but I don’t think that the leopard actually saw the hyena properly and was unable to accurately gauge its size. He most likely caught its scent and reacted instinctively to protect the kill. Next thing he had leapt up into a nearby Acacia, hoisting the kill high out of reach of the hyena below.
A second. much larger hyena appeared shortly, but with the kill already safe, the two hyenas could do nothing but sniff around for scraps, of which they found very few.
Photographed and Written by James Tyrrell