Camp Pan male vs Anderson male.
This is a tough one, in that neither individual has been officially weighed, as far as I know, and we will never see them next to each other. We are probably going to have to go with our gut feelings.
One can often make incorrect assumptions or declarations when viewing animals in the wild, especially pertaining to the size of the animal, as a lot of factors come into play. Frame of reference, emotional attachment, spatial perspective and a host of others all affect one’s judgement, and at the end of the day, a definitive conclusion is still probably going to be hard to reach.
The Camp Pan and Anderson male leopards have never, as far as I know, come into contact with each other. The Camp Pan male was born about 15 years ago and, sadly, is probably now deceased, while the Anderson male is a relative youngster, being born in 2008.
While the Anderson male was resident in the north-central reaches of the Sabi Sands at a time when the Camp Pan male was holding territory in SE Londolozi, the two males were separated by not only distance but also by the buffer of other big males in between. The only time they could possibly have met up was when the Camp Pan male finally got pushed out of his territory by a combination of the Piva and Inyathini males and became nomadic. Having said this, once evicted the Camp Pan male did seem to confine most of his movements to the areas bordering the Sand River, skulking through the reedbeds and trying to remain as unobtrusive as possible. I doubt whether he moved far enough north that he would have encountered the Anderson male.
The Camp Pan male was a big leopard. Fact. He was immensely powerful, and I personally saw him with the hoisted carcasses of kudus, young wildebeest and juvenile zebras. Not small animals to carry up into the trees. His tracks were what really set him apart, however, and I doubt I will ever again see a leopard with feet that big. His “unmistakeable” tracks were, in fact, mistaken for those of a lioness on more than one occasion.
It seems, sadly, that the Camp Pan male has moved on to the happy hunting ground in the sky, but in his wake has come a new challenger for the title of “Biggest leopard on Londolozi”.
The Anderson male has started to show his hand after the disappearance of the Gowrie male, and rangers, trackers and guests alike are all being wowed by the sheer size of this enormous individual. They say that first impressions last, and one of the first things the Anderson male did when establishing territory on Londolozi was to hoist the carcass of a young giraffe. Yes, a giraffe! Giraffe foals are born weighing around 100kg, and I’m here to tell you that the Anderson male had not eaten much of the kill before carrying it into the branches of a long-tailed cassia. It was a truly outrageous display of strength.
I remember when I first began working in the bush and a leopard was just a leopard. Male, female, young, old… my untrained eye struggled to tell the difference. Living in a leopard-rich environment has since given me the opportunity to build up a frame of reference when it comes to identifying and/or sizing individuals, and my first impression of the Anderson male – which remains – was that he is bigger than the Camp Pan male.
Many will shout me down here, Camp Pan loyalists in particular. But having seen the old campaigner many, many times over the years, and now suddenly coming face to face with the Anderson male, I am pretty convinced that should each of these giants of the leopard world have been weighed, the scales would have tipped in favour of the Anderson male…
Comments, disagreements and opinions welcome…
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell