“I’m worried…” were the words of Richard Ferrier, when we hadn’t seen the Vomba female for a few weeks. A justified worry, as she was never seen again. And now, more than a year later, a similar worry is creeping into the ranging team about her daughter the Mashaba female.
Much like her mother, the Mashaba female operates around camp a lot of the time, and sightings of her are generally a frequent occurrence. Without a sighting for at least 10 days now, we find ourselves wondering just where she is hiding herself. While it is certainly too early to panic, there is nevertheless concern amongst the rangers and trackers as to what has happened, if anything. Tracks of a large female still criss-cross her territory, and bushbuck regularly alarm call from the river in front of camp, so we are hopeful that she is still around, but with the Tsalala Pride having spent a lot of time in the area in the last couple of weeks, there is always the chance that the worst has befallen her. If she is not seen for another 10 days to two weeks we will begin to suspect the worst, but we’ll be optimistic for now.
In other news, there have been a number of mating pairs over the last 6 weeks. The Tamboti female has been mating with the Marthly, Tu-Tones and Camp Pan males, the Tutlwa female has been seen mating with the Gowrie male, and the Ximpalapala young female (more on her later) was seen mating with the Tu-tones male. The Mashaba female and Marthly male were also seen together a couple of weeks ago, so our hope is that if she is still alive she is attempting to produce another litter.
Although not seen for a couple of weeks, the Tutlwa female’s youngsters must be approaching independence in the next few months which may have led the female to begin seeing out mating partners once more. She was seen far out of her normal territory with the Gowrie male, deep in the territory of the Nanga female. The Nanga female is younger and smaller, but with little cubs in the area she would most likely be very defensive of her territory should she encounter a rival, unrelated female.
Speaking of the Nanga female, she is approximately three and a half months in to her second attempt to get a litter through to maturity. Her first litter saw her getting a young male through to independence, although unfortunately for him that independence day came far sooner than he would have expected or liked, and he was on his own before he was even a year old, while his mother began raising a new litter of two. She has been denning them around the Southern Cross Koppies and they have started eating meat within the last month, which means they are entering a very dangerous time in their young lives, as the mother will begin leading them around territory to where she has stashed kills, exposing them to far more danger than if they were simply hiding up on a rocky outcrop.
What ranger Talley Smith calls her “favourite dysfunctional family” has been together again, with the Tu Tones and Camp Pan males both competing for mating rights with the Tamboti female. As has been seen in recent mating bouts, she far prefers the Tu Tones male these days, but the Camp Pan male has nevertheless been in attendance, clearly resentful of his son’s rise to reproductive prominence.
The Ximpalapala young female surprised us all a few weeks ago when she was found mating with the Tu Tones male near the centre of Londolozi. Although she is probably far too young to fall pregnant, she is nevertheless feeling the urge to mate, but her youth may account for the fact that the male was only half-heartedly participating, and was actually aggressive towards her at times. The pair was discovered late one evening in quite a dense thicket, and in the failing light no-one was 100% sure who the small female was, but photographic evidence and more frequent sightings of her over the last month have led us to believe that she is actively establishing territory in that area. This is great news for our leopard viewing, since after the disappearance of the Nottens’s female that South Western and central area has remained somewhat vacant. Now we have both the Nhlanguleni and Ximpalapala young females establishing themselves there.
Mating, cubs, kills in trees, and more unusual behaviour than one could fill a book with. The leopards of Londolozi continue to amaze us.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell
Filed under Leopards
What stunning photos, 20 years after I promised myself that one day I would visit Londolozi I find that six weeks today I will be arriving.
It will be so sad if something happened to the Mashaba female. She was one of the first leoptds we saw at Londolozi, then still the Vomba young female. A beautiful leopard.
Wow…what a great post! Thanks for sharing. I’m always anxious to hear about the Nanga female and her offspring!
I sure hope the Mashaba female is alright and well,she was beaten up when we saw her in May and have seen her on all of our 5 visits,such a beautiful leopard.
Such a beautiful leopard..I hope she is okay and will emerge again shortly. It would be so sad if she were gone. Please keep us updated James.
The lovely Mashaba female has been so successful but she has had a rough couple of months – losing her last litter and fighting with her niece. I’m glad you still see tracks of a female in her territory (how long do leopard tracks last usually?). I sure hope Mashaba is just being elusive…
Thanks for update and news about all of the leopards!
Glad the Camp Pan Male is still going strong. Can’t wait to see him again next month. Great pictures of great leopards, thank you.
Wow these Leopards lead a very traumatic life in any Reserve & maybe now with the birthing of new “stock” it puts them under more pressure, but I wish it was a “perfect” world where all animals & man could get on & just enjoy, but its not. But if it is the same Nottens, she was seen with her cub in Sabi Sabi this morning 🙂 little one is looking beautiful.
LOVE LOVE ALL THE PICTURES OF THESE BEAUTIFUL CATS !
wonderful thanks for sharing