There is now a rising, there is a new time, a new way and a new generation. They are beginning to take shape, being bold, brave and determined. It is a new time for the Leopards of Londolozi and as we see this new generation emerge we would like to introduce what we see to be the future of our Leopard population in the years to come.
Currently there are well established territories with dominant Leopards throughout the reserve, male and female, however, there are Leopards that have disappeared and Leopards that are ageing. The Vomba female, and the Nottens female who we have sadly lost in the past few months, and more recently the Dudley Riverbank female who has been seen far out of her territory, thin tired and out of shape. (A blog on her progress will be posted in the next few weeks.) It is for this slowly decreasing female Leopard population that we are beginning to see the rise of the future. The young females we are referring to are pictured below, and in order of their age and current status.
The Tutlwa Young Female:
Certainly the female that is beginning to firmly establish her territory just west of the Mashaba female’s territory. We have seen her make a few kills in that area and she has also been seen scent marking along some invisible boundary that is now becoming very apparent to us. She has always been a slightly nervous Leopard that grew up with her brother in the Sand River. From when they were born, in June 2011, they spent much time in the river and her tributaries. Out of the limelight and seldom viewed by vehicles. Since she has been left by her mother she almost vanished, but is now making a strong come back and establishing herself as one of the new future Leopardesses on the property.
The Mashaba Young Female:
Possibly one of the most important female Leopards on the reserve at the moment, important now and for the future of the female population on Londolozi. She has come from a great genetic background, being mothered by the Mashaba female and fathered by the, ever dominant, Marthly Male. Her grand mother is the Vomba female and for this reason, it will be important that her genes remain strong on the reserve in the future. She was the first Leopard I ever viewed on Londolozi, in October 2012 at the tender age of 2 months old and is now this beautiful young Leopardess that is going to be a great mother herself. She is now only 20 months old and certainly has much growing and learning to do before she takes over a territory and becomes dominant and fertile, however, she will form part of our future generation and this is important. She spends most of her time east of the Londolozi airstrip in an area she knows very well, as she spent most of her time growing up there. It will be interesting to see whether she remains here or moves further south and sets up territory between her mother and the Tamboti female.
The Ximpalapala Young Female:
The most interesting Leopard in discussion here. She is the offspring of the Ximpalapala female, a very nervous female in the northern regions of Londolozi. Born in a litter of 3 females, of which she is thought to be the only survivor. She grew up spending most of her time lounging in the branches of Marula trees on Ximpalapala crest. She was left at a very young age and it was thought that she had been killed. There was much concern over this and even a blog post on it. However, she turned up one day on the other end of the reserve in Dudley. Since then this has been her tactic. To move wherever and whenever. To avoid others at all costs and cause no one any harm. She has been like a ghost but is a survivor and certainly a Leopard to watch out for in the future.
This Leopard is one of the most beautiful I have seen on Londolozi and we all look forward to following her progress in the future to see where she eventually sets up her territory.
The Tamboti Young Female:
It is always an amazing thing to watch a young Leopard grow up from being a few weeks old to adolescence and soon independence. Her mother, the Tamboti female is a first time mother and it is believed that she may leave her daughter, who is now approaching 13 months, and look to have a new litter to continue to spread her genes. For this reason, this young female has been added to the list of future contenders for our new generation of Leopards. She shares the curious nature of her mother and survival instincts necessary to succeed in this competitive environment. She is beginning to spend much of her time without her mother, wandering on her own and even making her own kills. This is a sure sign of a Leopard that will soon become independent. There will be a few years before she establishes her own territory, however, there is a likelihood that it may be on the fringes of her mothers territory. We hope this is on Londolozi as she has become a favourite on the reserve in the past year.
The Vomba Young Male:
He has been in the lime light before on the blog where we discussed the Life of a young male Leopard as well as a life story the Vomba Young male. We have watched him grow up, be left by his mother, who tragically disappeared, and then compete in this hostile environment, for survival. He has been one of the most interesting and exciting Leopards to watch in the past few months, offering incredible sightings. Climbing trees, posing for amazing photographs, making kills in front of vehicles as well as managing to avoid other large male Leopards and Lion prides who scour the area he moves through looking for any weak inhabitant. It has been interesting to watch his movements about the reserve and it will soon be told where he may end up. As a young male he has much searching to do, he will wander and he will hopefully survive. He will encounter hardship and he will be pushed to his limits. Where this male will establish territory, only time will tell. It may take another few years but we certainly hope he will remain close by.
The Nanga Young Male:
The Nanga young male was last on the list as he is the youngest in the group of Leopards being discussed. He will be the last to set up territory, if he survives to independence and then further. This will also take a few years to come to fruit. He is a very young male, approaching the tender age of 1 year. However, with the recent floods in the area and not being able to cross onto the northern section of the reserve for some time, it was apparent to us that this male had not been viewed for over a month, until very recently when he was found on Marthly river road, looking very skinny and helpless. That same morning, his mother, the Nanga Female, was found on the northern boundary, hunting Impala. Complete opposite ends of our northern territory. This raised many flags and it is now being considered that his mother has left him to fend for himself. But, this is all speculation currently and an update will follow in the coming months regarding this situation. But for now, he may well be a contender in the race to dominate this beautiful land.
We can only speculate on the future movement of these leopards and would love to hear what your thoughts are on any of them?
Written and Photographed by: Mike Sutherland