Some of you may have noticed a new name appearing in the Weekly sightings list, and in his post The Life of a Young Male Leopard, Mike Sutherland mentioned an unknown male that has been viewed around the Nyamakunze area of central Londolozi over the past few weeks.
We can officially introduce him as the Torchwood Male, a young nomadic male that has drifted in from the north of the Sabi Sands.
The Torchwood male holds territory falling mostly to the west of Londolozi and is infrequently seen.
Born in November or December 2010 (so Mike Sutherland’s estimate of around 3 years old was spot on!) on the Torchwood property, he is now at an age at which his father would most likely have put pressure on him to move out of his territory. His father is the Mvula male (aka Leadwood Male) who is territorial to the north of us, and who we don’t see on Londolozi.
Male leopards typically disperse at around two-and-a-half years, and this is mirrored exactly in the Torchwood male, as the last photo taken of him in the North was round about June of this year. Since then he has moved around the Sabi Sands extensively, being seen in the southern, western, and now central sectors.
First seen on Londolozi a couple of weeks ago to the South of the Maxabene drainage line with two impala kills, he has not strayed very far since then, with the most distant sighting from his original location being roughly a kilometre away, when Melvin Sambo found him on a hoisted Warthog kill just north of the Tugwaan Drainage last week. He is risking incurring the wrath of the dominant territorial leopards in the area, namely the Makhotini and Camp Pan males, but no interaction has been observed between him and the two bigger leopards, and indeed neither of these two significantly larger males have been seen in that area since the Torchwood male appeared on the scene.
Interestingly enough, he seems to have found a companion in the aged Nottens female, as the two have been seen together on at least three occasions.
Proof of his youth was given recently when he stole a kill from the female cheetah and her two youngsters, but was subsequently chased up a nearby Marula tree by the furious mother. An older and bigger leopard would probably not have allowed itself to be ignominiously sent packing like that. Nor would the cheetah have had a run at a leopard unless it was a young one, I don’t think. I think she had also just had one too many kills robbed from her. This incident took place on Nyamakunze Crest, which has not been a happy hunting ground for the cheetahs in terms of keeping their kills out of sight of other predators.
We hope the Torchwood male hangs around for a bit, but he will have to wait a couple of years at least before he is big enough to properly establish himself in a territory.
Sincere thanks to Claire-M Lepage, for identifying and providing the history of the Torchwood male.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell