The section of Londolozi north of the Sand River has been dominated by the Gowrie male leopard since early 2013. He first started making his presence known in late 2012, as described in a post by ranger James Crookes at the time, but it was only in the following year that he began steadily pushing the then-dominant Marthly male further and further south towards the river, eventually ousting him from the northern reaches of the property altogether.
The Gowrie male first appeared in the Sabi Sands around 2011. Judging by his size, he is estimated to have been born around 2005/6.
In recent months the Gowrie male was even seen south of the river, and he and the newly-resident Robson’s 4:4 male have been seen growling at each other from opposite banks on a number of occasions. The Gowrie male was a constant presence in the north, with his golden, staring eyes and large territory, but of late, his name has been conspicuous by its absence on the radio waves.
No-one has called in any sightings of him for awhile now, and the last suspected sighting of him was from over a month ago, when ranger Dan Buys caught a glimpse of what he was convinced was the Gowrie male, lying in the palm thickets of the Sand River near to where three of the Majingilane were lying.
Since then, nothing. Enquiries to other reserves bordering Londolozi have been fruitless, and it seems that no-one has seen him. It is not just the rangers and trackers who are starting to suspect he has gone. Other male leopards, eager to expand their territories, have been pushing into the north, and the void left by the Gowrie male is being filled from three directions.
From the north west has come the Anderson male, almost certainly the biggest male leopard I have ever seen. Is he bigger than the Camp Pan male? I suspect so, but we’ll go into that at a later date.
From the south, the Robson’s 4:4 male has crossed the river and has been seen as far north as the leadwood forest on the Manyelethi river, and from the east, the old Dudley 5:5 male has returned to Londolozi, being seen a few times on central Marthly.
It is probably still too soon to confirm the death of the Gowrie male, since there’s always the chance he has simply been pushed out and forced to relocate to an entirely different area, but a complete lack of sightings makes us suspect the worst…
Written by James Tyrrell, Londolozi Ranger
Photograph by James Tyrrell and Andrea Campbell, Londolozi Ranger
Filmed by Mike Sutherland