It has been a while since we have had a review of all of the Leopards on the reserve. Who has been accounted for and who has been lost. Who we have said farewell to and who we have welcomed. The passers by, the brief glimpses, the elderly, the young. New territory holders and not so new faces. I thought it would be interesting to see how the Leopard population on Londolozi stands today.
There have been a few changes in the dynamics of the population and the have been many interesting happenings, with some Leopards disappearing, leaving voids to fill and new Leopards emerging and making a stand for themselves as territorial beings. New boundaries have been formed and the youth is making its mark. There are also the old timers and the favourites. Some with surprises and some with sadness.
Marthly Male 3:2:
Certainly the most dominant male leopard on Londolozi at the moment, holding majority of his territory along the river. He was born in 2001 and got his name from the northern property of Londolozi where he first held territory here. Currently on Londolozi he is father to the Vomba Young Male, Mashaba Young Female, 2 Tutlwa cubs, and now possibly father to a possible new litter of the Mashaba female. He is distinguished by a prominent v-shaped wedge of out his right ear.
Camp Pan Male 4:3:
The most infamous male leopard on Londolozi, now 13 years old, has unfortunately lost a lot of his territory to the Marthly Male and now shares a portion of his territory with one of his sons, the Tu Tones male. He spends most of his time in the south eastern parts of the reserve and is well renowned for his scavenging techniques, where a free meal from a female is easier than making his own kill. He strangely spends a lot of time with the Tamboti female and her youngster, now approaching 10 months of age. Easily recognised as one the biggest male leopards in the area, a scar below his right eye and a slit in his tongue. He spends many hours in daylight, between game drives moving and scent marking. How long will he still be around? Only time will tell.
Gowrie Male 2:2:
The up and coming male of the north, The Gowrie male is a new force to be reckoned with. He is slowly pushing the Marthly Male further southwards and is extending is own territory deeper onto Londolozi. He is father to the cub of the Nanga female and was seen mating with the Maliliwane female and the Ximpalapala 4:4 female, who should have a litter stashed somewhere currently if plans have gone her way. This male is distinguished by is amazing golden amber eyes. He was first seen on Londolozi in July 2011 and was thought to have come from the Kruger National Park.
Makothini Male 3:3:
A well known male leopard who grew up under the helpful paws of his famous mother, the Maxabeni female who disappeared late in 2011. He has established a territory in the south western regions of the property as well as south of our reserve, where he is known as the Maxabeni Male. He can be identified by a very brown nose and enjoys spending much time in the branches of any comfortable looking tree. Strangely this male has been seen of more than one occasion with Buffalo calf kills as well as an Aardvark kill mid 2012. His is the twin brother of the Tu Tones male.
Tu Tones Male 3:2:
The brother of the Makothini Male and son of the Maxabeni female, has established territory in his fathers territory in the south eastern parts of Londolozi as well as east of our boundary, where he is known as the Newington Male. He is believed to be the father of the Tamboti young female, but there is much debate on this as he was witnessed on 2 occasions mating with the Tamboti female, together with his father, The Camp Pan male. He is renowned for a very pink nose, which is slowly beginning to freckle with age, as well as a slightly smaller left eye, possibly damaged through injury, a stick, a fight or a snakes venom.
Khaxani Male 3:3:
Seldom seen on our lands but a welcome visitor. A beautiful male leopard who spends most of his time west of our boundary.
Nyelethi Male 4:3:
The brother of the Nanga Female and Nyelethi 2:3 Male. Part of a miracle story and one of the few recorded cases of a successful litter of 3 leopards who all reached independence. He to has established territory west our our boundary but is viewed on Londolozi, in the opens areas, more frequently now than before. He was the male that was involved in the death of the famous Ravencourt female in 2013. This male was born in June 2009, and as such a young leopard he is certainly making his mark.
A male that was very well known in these parts a long time ago, almost 14 years of age and well battered. His face is scarred and his spot pattern is almost unrecognisable. He has a blue right eye, that has clouded over, possibly through age or being spat at by a snake. However he gained this injury, it certainly adds to his appeal. He has recently, in the past 5 months, made a comeback onto Londolozi soil, and spends much of his time wandering the open areas in the south western regions avoiding all contact with other big males. He is also known as the Sand River Male and waa born to the Mhangeni female in June 2000 and is the younger brother of the Maxabeni female.
Tugwaan Male 5:4:
Unfortunately a male that I have never seen or photographed yet. He used to be dominant in the middle and lower third of Londolozi, however, since the pressure from Camp Pan moving further south, the Tugwaan male has extended his territory further south and west. He is now viewed mainly in Dudley and south of our property. He was born in April 2002 to the female who was known as the Short Tailed female. Known in the East as the Bicycle Crossing Male.
Vomba Young Male 3:2:
Slowly becoming an extremely important part of the leopard population here on Londolozi. He lost his mother, the famous Vomba Female in August 2013, when he was a mere 14 months old and has been through some tough times. He has recently come into his own and has provided some amazing game viewing. He has wandered over the central Londolozi, Sparta and should now be looking to move further east. His father, the Marthly male is still accepting of his presence, however, this should change soon. Being born in June 2012, he is now approaching 20 months of age, he is still a young leopard. For more information on him, look at a previous blog I wrote on his history.
Tutlwa Young Male :
This young male Leopard grew up with his sister in the safety of the reed banks and date palm thickets in the Sand River. He was seldom viewed in his first year and since then has been like a ghost. He is around and his tracks are seen all over the northern property but he is elusive. He is, to me, a true leopard. Sneaky, subtle, elusive and secretive. He was born in mid 2011 and currently is independent and nomadic. Soon we should see him moving out of his comfort zone in his fathers territory and look to expand on his experience and knowledge of this vast land. A future dominant male.
A new comer on Londolozi and certainly a stunner. He made a few great appearances. Made multiple kills and had much interaction with other Leopards and predators alike in his brief time here. He was seen on Londolozi for approximately 5 months and has not been seen here in a few weeks. He is around 3 years of age and is in a very nomadic stage in his life, which will force him to wander and travel. For a full insight into this male, have a look at a recent blog written by James Tyrrell, Who is the Torchwood Male?.
Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male:
An interesting series of events lead this male to give up what could have been his territory in the central regions of Londolozi, where Camp Pan used to be dominant around the Sand River. Camp Pan and The 5:5 male had territorial encounters and the females had begun to choose 5:5 as the leading contender, mating with the Maxabeni female in October 2010. He also had a huge altercation with the Camp Pan male in May 2011 on Sparta. However, to the North and East, another male, the Emsengweni Male, disappeared in September 2011, leaving a huge void and unoccupied land. This lead 5:5 to leave his battle and settle for an already established territory. He was born in 2006 as the son of the Dudley Riverbank Female and remained with her even after independence. He is seldom seen on Londolozi anymore. He is know in the east as the Airstrip Male.
Unknown 4:4 male:
Not much is known about this male Leopard, and was seen very close to our Northern boundary on a few occasions. He has a 4:4 spot pattern and any information would be greatly appreciated.
Unknown Short Tailed Male in South:
This male has also come and gone and not much information was gathered about him. He was seen in the eastern parts of Londolozi, a relatively aggressive male towards vehicles and has a distinctly short tail. He looked to be around 5 years of age.
Vomba Female 3:2: Deceased
Nottens Female 5:5: Deceased
Mashaba Female 3:3:
Slowly becoming the female of the hour on Londolozi. Since the departure of her mother, the Vomba female, the Mashaba female has taken over much of central Sparta and around the camps. East and West of camps has become her domain. She has recently left her first ever youngster, the Mashaba 2:2 young female, who has now reached independence at the tender age of 17 months. The Mashaba female has been seen mating on 3 occasions in the past 3 months, and was seen as recently as 9 February 2014, with fresh suckle marks. She is believed to be nursing her second litter, but it is still too early to tell. She was born in September 2008 and is fathered by the Camp Pan male. She has 2 very distinct spots on her otherwise pink nose. A Londolozi favourite, and ranger, Jess Boon‘s nemesis.
Tutlwa Female 4:3:
The older sister of the Mashaba female, also mothered by the Vomba Female and fathered by the Camp Pan male, but 2 years earlier than Mashaba female, in March 2006. She has had 4 litters in her time in the Northern regions of Londolozi, where she holds territory over the Sand river and in Marthly. Her first was in August 2010, where she had 1 cub which she lost. The second was a successful litter of 2, where she raised a young male and young female who are still around today. Both these litters were born around Mhangeni double crossing and the lookout point at the Sand River. Her third litter was in the Manyelethi in the North, in a beautiful rocky outcrop. They were found when just days old but lost to the january 2013 floods. Currently she is raising a litter of 2, her 4th litter, on Marthly. A young male and a young female approximately 6 months old.
Tamboti Fermale 4:3:
Another Londolozi favourite is the Tamboti female. She holds territory in the south Eastern parts of Londolozi, as well as east of our boundary. This female is the sister of the Vomba female, but 10 years younger and comes from a lineage we all know well. Mothered by the Sunset Bend 2:2 female and fathered by the Tugwaan 5:4 male in October 2007. She has taken over territory of the late Maxabeni female around the Maxabeni dry river bed. She is currently raising her first litter, which consisted of a male and a female but at 4 months of age the young male disappeared. This litter was born in March 2013 in the Inyathini drainage line and she is still busy raising the young female cub.
Nanga Female 3:3:
The sister of the Nyelethi 4:3 Male and part of the successful litter of 3 that all reached independence. This female disappeared off the regulars list until early in 2013 she was seen mating with the Gowrie male on the Northern Boundary and then 3 months later, in June 2013, was found with 2 young Male cubs just East of the Manyelethi River. This was her first litter and she is still raising one of these little cubs, the other vanished during an altercation with the Tsalala pride seen in a blog here. She was born in 2009 and has now taken over her mothers territory, the Nyelethi Female.
Maliliwane Female 2:2:
This female is a seldom seen Leopard in these parts and spend much time in the north eastern corner of Marthly. She is known off Londolozi as Kwatile or Mlowhati female . Born in October 2007, this female has had 1 known litter from the ‘new’ Gowrie male, known as the Lamula male elsewhere, which was subsequently lost, and has been seen mating with the same male, in approximately October or November 2013, and the last time she was seen, she seemed to be looking for a den sight and seemed to be carrying heavily. She was mothered by the Campbell Koppies female and fathered by the ‘old’ Gowrie Male, who used to be known as Mafufunyane Male.
Ximpalapala Female 4:4:
This leopard is the most elusive leopard on Londolozi and there was not even a photograph to show for her. She is an extremely shy leopard that runs at the sound of a vehicle. Her life story is unfortunately unknown, however, she produced 3 amazing daughters which spent much time on Ximpalapala crest in late 2012 and early 2013. All three were very relaxed unlike their mother. Currently only 1 remains. She was seen in August 2013 mating with the Gowrie male, and hence should be currently looking after a litter of cubs.
Piva Female 2:2:
This female is known to move in the deep southerns regions of Londolozi and is known elsewhere as the Nottens female, as being the daughter of what we here at Londolozi knew as the Nottens 5:5 female. She was born in November 1998. She has been recorded to have had 7 litters of cubs until 2012, including 15 cubs of which it is know that 5 have reached independence.
Ximpalapala Young Female 3:3:
The only remaining cub of the Ximpalapala female from a litter of 3 females. Born in March 2012, this little female reached independence at age 13 months. She spent many days with 1 of her sisters in the branches of the Marula trees on the crest of Ximpalapala, in the North. She is know in a period of her life where she is nomadic and is regularly seen south and north of the reserve. East and West of camp. Her movements are erratic, however, she is calculated and is poised for success. She is a true leopard in the sense of opportunism, killing anything from large Impala rams to small dwarf and banded mongooses.
Tutlwa Young Female 2:2:
Another very elusive young female leopard, born to the Tutlwa female along with a brother, at the Mhangeni lookout on the Sand river in June 2011, that have both survived to independence and are both viewed on Londolozi. This female has really come into her own and has been seen scent marking around the Western regions of Sparta/ Taylor. She is possibly setting up territory in that area and we look forward to what the future hold for this young leopard.
Dudley Riverbank Female 3:3:
One that has eluded me for over a year now, the Dudley riverbank female. I have spent many hours in search of this elderly cat with no luck. She spends most of her time in the deeper parts of Dudley, Dudley riverbank, the Tugwaan drainage line and further south of that. It is only in times of exploration that she is seen, when rangers and trackers venture into the deep south and spend long mornings working out her movements through tracks of various ages scattered around Dudley. Her mother was possible the most famous Londolozi leopard that walked these lands, the 3:4 female, and she was born in September of 1998. Since then she has managed to have 5 litters until her last in March 2012, where she had 1 young female cub at Paul’s crossing in the Tugwaan Drainage line, the last known status of this young female, was that she was still dependent, however this may have changed in recent months. Will the legacy of the 3:4 female continue? Only time will tell.
Mashaba Young Female 2:2:
The first leopard I ever saw on Londolozi at the tender age of 2 months, the Mashaba young female. She was born in August 2012 in the Sand River near Plaque Rock. The only survivor of a litter of 3 and the first litter of her mothers, the Mashaba female. Fathered by the most dominant male in the area, the Marthly male, she now spends a lot of her time, since her recent independence, within the heart of her mothers territory. She is often seen hunting young impala, duikers and even mongooses and rock monitors. Until now, she has been unscathed besides a slight gash to the right thigh, which has now healed. We look forward to watching this female grow and mature here on Londolozi.
For us it is very important from a research point of view to understand the Leopard population here, to know the individuals and to follow their lives. It has been a part of what happens here for many years and dates back to the era of the Mother Leopard. If anyone has any information regarding the unknown leopards or further information on leopards we do view, please fill in the comments so that we can keep learning from these amazing animals.
Written and Photographed by: Mike Sutherland