Some of the best leopard habitat in the entire region falls either side of the mighty Sand River. A river which runs through the heart of Londolozi and allows us to view the huge territorial males that claim it as their own. For years the Camp Pan male held territory on the banks of the river until he slowly but surely was pressured south by another major presence in the area, the Marthly male. I assume this has been the cycle for hundreds of years, only now it has a new driving force.
Not too long ago he was seen on Londolozi for the first time. The Gowrie male, a younger, more powerful male with a desire to acquire new land. His striking orange eyes an unmistakable characteristic. He originally crept in from the north eastern corner of Londolozi and has been extending his territory deeper in visit by visit. The pressure has been building and the effects are noticeable.
The Marthly male is being seen infrequently north of the river and more and more regularly in areas south of what was traditionally his territory. This is applying even more pressure on the aging Camp Pan male as his territory continues to shrink. The shift is not only being noticed by the rangers and trackers but it seems the female leopards are also showing interest in the changes. The Tamboti female more so than the others. She was recently seen mating with the Marthly male. This took place far north of her territory, is she anticipating that his territory will continue to shift south, enveloping hers, and is seeking protection for her future cubs by mating with him?
The outcome is still unknown but a shift is in full swing. The Gowrie male seems to be gaining momentum. Seeing him patrol parallel to the river on the northern bank and meticulously mark his territory is becoming a common sight. Within the last few weeks he has also mated with both the Tutlwa and Nanga female. The day, I believe, is fast approaching that he is seen discovering land south of the river and his quest continues as he eases into his prime.
How soon do you believe we’ll see the Gowrie male south of the river?
Written and Photographed by Simon Smit