About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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31 Comments

on The Ghost of the 4:4 Male

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Jenny
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Loss is something we all handle differently, often causing inner reflection. Ultimately, we all learn more about ourselves from these life experiences and many will empathise with your expression of gratitude and grief.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Jenny,
Thanks you for your comments. You’re right, ultimately it’s all a learning experience 🙂

Tom Bradley
Member
Guest

Thank you James. As we age, we view these losses from different perspectives. Well written as always.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thanks Tom!

barbara jones
Member
Guest

Well said and I almost teared up!

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Barbara,
It’s funny how different things in nature can make us emotional when we least expect it…

Susanna
Member
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Dear James, I know we should never anthropomorphise but how can we not? If it is within our nature then it is a natural element of our self.
I think you saw something of your self in the 4:4 male Leopard & that now he has “gone” so has a bit of your self.
You are grieving now for something lost which logically you know you can never retrieve but I think that Leopard will always be with you & he has managed to teach you something.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

So true Susanna. There are lessons to be learnt in the strangest of places…

Alice Ross
Member
Guest

James your passion is blatantly clear and we share a special love of leopards. Your post is brave and I salute you for showing a vulnerable sensitive side of yourself (not too many guys can do this). I wish I had the opportunity to meet you and have this discussion in person. A most enjoyable and thought provoking blog as always. All the best Alice Ross (mum to Trevor McCall-Peat )

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thanks very much for your kind comments Alice.
We’re missing Trevor already!

MJ
Member
Guest

Thank you James. I agree sometimes things happen in our lives, at a certain time and the meaning becomes deep and retrospective. I see a leopard (my favorite mammal in the bush) and feel a yearning. I see in the mirror that yearning to be free and unencumbered, to feel wildness and freedom of that leopard. Yes, I think we as wildlife lovers can feel things others just think are nuts.. That is ok, maybe they will one day find that one thing that touches them to the depths of their soul.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi MJ,
Ultimately whatever you feel is for you, whether others think you’re nuts or not… 🙂

Lee
Member
Guest

I also believe animals can mirror back to us parts of ourselves we may not have appreciated in ourselves. Thanks for sharing your reflections with us.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

My pleasure, Lee.

catherine mullin
Member
Guest

This. Gratitude for your words – I think we sometimes err on the side of dispassion. Believing that animals, plants etc are separate from us and we them. Just perhaps the emotions and feelings that arise when we feel a deeper connection with nature are closer to the truth than we believe – we are all one.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

I agree Catherine. That connectedness one can feel in nature, whether it’s viewing a leopard at Londolozi or simply standing under an oak tree in your local park, is something I think many of us have lost sight of…

Jan-Erik Rottinghuis
Member
Guest

James, well said and thought provoking. Agree that there is s spiritual connection, when viewing these animals in their habitat (just returning from Kenya…and planning to go back to Londolozi…) and some sort of desire to be more part of it…as it is the beauty in its rawest form that you are witnessing! So I can relate to your sense of loss. Fortunately life (in the bush) goes on so you will be able to find another “relationship” I hope.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Jan-Erik,
Life does indeed go on, and another leopard will certainly move in to fill his place. Who that will be and what I feel for him I guess only time will tell…

Una Holdsworth
Member
Guest

Hello James,
My husband and I have visited Londolozi a few times. Round the time of the Tugwaan female we visited often. Our most recent visit was with Lex Hes a few years ago. We will be visiting again in June next year so I have joined the blog to see what is happening at Londolozi. I was interested in your reflex ions of the 4.4 male leopard. Please could you tell me when he lived and how he died. Look forward to hearing from you.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Una,
He was a bit of an enigma, in that we don’t know a lot about his history. We believe he was born around 2010, most likely in the Kruger Park, which would account for his skittish nature around vehicles.
He fathered a number of litters with various females, the only surviving one being the current Mashaba young female.
About a month ago he was caught by the Mhangeni breakaway pride of lions and mauled badly. He managed to escape but sadly died of his wounds a week or so later.
For a bit more info, have a look at this blog from a a while ago: http://blog.londolozi.com/2016/01/is-this-londolozis-most-enigmatic-leopard/

Senior Moment
Member
Guest

Ah, when you cut away the luxurious lodges, the high end digital cameras and lenses, the spiritual sense is still there. Perhaps best encountered when you stop, and take in just what you are seeing and then just breathe it in.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Ian,
That;s often the best way to do it. Sit in silence and just be present…

Sharon Blackburn
Member
Guest

What a heartfelt, beautifully expressed post! Grief, although a constant and recurring part of every life, affects us all strongly and often in unexpected ways. Perhaps, as you suggest, it was the 4:4 male’s very wildness that you respected, his very presence, when he was seen or unseen. We should all grieve that the opportunities to learn what he, as a unique individual, had to teach us just by his being, are no longer there.
Your admiration of his qualities reminded me of our first visit to Londolozi when we searched for a female with cubs (at that time I did not even realize that all the leopards were named and had extensive genealogies!) Our hard-working ranger and tracker located her in very thick brush. We knew she was there, but when she was not discovered, they respectfully backed off to give her the privacy she obviously wanted. Of course we were disappointed at not seeing her, but the overwhelming feeling was of admiration for her, for her being a skillful leopard mum who could successfully hide her precious cubs! Yay, mum! May you always be able to hide them away! She could not know that we were proud of her for eluding the best tracking, in order to protect her cubs. We recognized the importance to leopards and all wild animals in maintaining their wildness, to sometimes refuse contact with humans. Londolozi is the excellent model of how humans should interact and behave, respecting the animals and their individuality as they struggle to survive in their dwindling habitats. As observers, we can learn from the animals how to step lightly on the earth as part of the web, not by trying to exert dominance. We are the privileged observers and we should never forget that. The lovely posts written by the Londolozi family always capture this profound respect, understanding, and acknowledgement of how much we don’t know. The writers’ deep love (no other word for it) for the wildness these animals represent, and admiration for their daily struggles to survive within their great circle of life, certainly serve to educate both the people who are in the vehicles and those reading the blogs from all across the world, happy in the knowledge that Londolozi and the Londolozi spirit exists. I can not presume to know, but perhaps that embodiment of life lived purely on its own terms in the 4:4 male particularly resonated with you, as it does with us all, thanks to this meaningful post.
Our family looks forward to coming to Londolozi in December!

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thank you for your heartfelt comments Sharon,
We’re looking forward to having you back here! We just had our first proper rains so the bush will hopefully have greened up nicely..

Jill Larone
Member
Guest

James, each person grieves differently, and sometimes the connection we never expected to have, and the special love and respect that you felt for this beautiful Leopard, is the grief felt most intensely once they are gone. Is it necessary for you to understand why you feel this way? — or just accept that you do, and that for this moment in time, this incredible Leopard allowed you a view into his life and to feel this special connection.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Jill, I agree, in that the understanding of the emotion isn’t always necessary; sometimes it’s better just to go with it in the moment…

Kate Imrie
Member
Guest

Hi James, beautifully written and welcome to the world of reflection, it is a very powerful thing.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thanks Katie! Scary place, but it is powerful indeed!

sasha
Member
Guest

amazing blog post truly amazing

Clare Gibbon
Member
Guest

Wonderful post, Jamie. Fabulous that you stick your head (and heart!) above the parapet for that beautiful leopard. Wish I’d seen him. You make me feel the loss too – so important. More normally we gloss over such experiences and so diminish the beauty and value of what is gone. Thank you.

Una Holdsworth
Member
Guest

Thank you James. We look forward to perhaps meeting you in June. Also seeing some of the 4.4 male’s offspring.

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