The last couple of months we have seen a huge shift in the leopard dynamics in the South eastern section of Londolozi’s property with the arrival of the Piva young male who has firmly stamped his authority.
For many years the Camp Pan male has been dominant in this part of the reserve. The area holds beautiful clearings which run alongside riverine vegetation lined drainages. This landscape forms great hunting grounds in the summer when the grass is long and the prominent drainage lines provide more than adequate cover for the leopards of Londolozi. There are two major drainage lines which run through this area first being the Maxabene and the second being the Tugwaan drainage. Up until recent months the tracks of Camp Pan were a regular find through this network.
Born in 2000, Camp pan is now going into his 15th year which for any leopard, particularly a dominant male is a remarkable achievement. In an area such as Londolozi where the predator population is high, with great concentrations of Lion and Hyena it is even more exceptional. There is no denying that old age is starting to take its toll and with profound atrophy on the back legs and a general loss of weight, he is not quite his usual robust self. He does now carry a fair limp as well. That said, he is still holding his own and getting by. Sadly, his tracks mark the sands of Londolozi a little less nowadays as he spends the majority of his time to the east of our boundary, trying to avoid the movements of the Piva young male. As Piva young male begins to establish himself, Camp Pan will find himself being pushed further out of his territory and as he continues to age, will become more and more nomadic.
Out of all predators leopards have the most varied diet, even big males such as Camp Pan will hunt anything from squirrels, mice, mongoose,birds,cane rats,lizards and snakes up to antelope including impala, nyala and even female kudu. This means it is not essential that Camp Pan catches something large all the time but rather many small animals to keep the energy levels up. In the latter part of a leopards life they start to become scavengers more than hunters which we have already seen quite regularly from Camp Pan who has been known to steal kills from female leopards.
As he is no longer strictly territorial he is moving through other leopards territories while trying to keep a low profile. In the last couple of days he has been seen in the heart of his ancient rival’s territory, the Marthly males. He was seen with an impala kill around Taylors dam which is just to the south of Pioneer camp. Although he looked in fairly good condition the longer an older leopard goes without food the harder it gets as his body starts to break down muscle to use for energy. The photographs below are the most recent images taken of him and although they do not show the entire body, Camp Pan continues to soldier on!
Camp pan is managing to hold on for the time being and then next couple of months will be interesting to see how he goes about his more nomadic lifestyle. We have observed a number of old leopards such as the Nottens female and Dudley River Bank female, migrating back towards their place of birth in their latter years of life. Whether this is an accurate observation or not, it is an interesting one and we will keep a close eye on Camp Pan’s movements to see what unfolds and we will be sure to keep everyone updated!
Has anyone ever observed leopards moving back to their place of birth?
Written and Photographed by : Trevor Ryan McCall-Peat