The Mashaba young female was born in May 2015 and is now fully independent, yet has not established a territory for herself.
Nomadic around the fringes of her mothers territory would best sum up her movements, but as she’s almost three and has been seen mating on a number of occasions, we would expect her to want to establish herself somewhere soon.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
The problem comes in when one considers the territories of the dominant females of the area:
The black spots represent sightings of the Mashaba Young female over the last couple of months. Recent weeks have seen her further and further afield, with the latest sighting (which was rather incredible; we’ll be posting on it in the next couple of days) seeing her chased by a new young leopard, the Nweti male, way down near the headwaters of the Tugwaan drainage line.
Unfortunately for her, and as one can see if you look at the map, the area around her mother’s territory doesn’t really have any vacancies. We ran a post a week or two ago about the Tatowa female and how she had had to move quite far from her natal area in order to establish herself. The Mashaba young female may well have to do exactly that. Female leopards often set up territory next to their mothers, but this is usually dependent on their mother having space to cede in the first place, which the Mashaba female doesn’t really.
The Tatowa female was one of a litter of three females born in early 2012 to the Ximpalapala female of the north.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
The most likely bet – and this is also based on where we have been seeing her more and more – is that she moves down into the southwest; the area to the west of the Tatowa female’s territory. We don’t generally go looking for leopards here. We see them, but hardly ever go on an active search. This extensive grassland is hard to track in, and makes it hard to spot leopards on the ground. To be honest, we don’t even know how far west the Tatowa female’s territory extends, so the area may well be occupied already.
Either way, it isn’t prime leopard territory, and the potential lack of competition could make it exactly the type of place that lets the Mashaba young female get her foot in the door.