Many of you would have read Fin Lawlor’s recent post about his glorious afternoon spent at a waterhole.
In it he made mention of the Kashane/Kaxane male leopard; an old male who has been inhabiting Londolozi’s southern grasslands for the last couple of months.
He was born to the Kapen female in 2005, and upon independence moved south the lower Sabi Sand.
He’s had a bit of a back-and-forth history, this leopard, initially being territorial to the west of Londolozi, then being ousted and moving into the southern parts of the reserve, and he now appears to be in his dotage, popping up out of the long grasses, but probably too old to be territorial now.
Most of his movements have been centred around a single waterhole in the south-west of the reserve, in fact the same waterhole that Fin wrote about in his recent post. The highly localized movement this leopard is displaying is an almost exact replica of that of the Ndzanzeni young male, who spent so much of his time after independence at another waterhole in Londolozi’s deep south-east. It seems that non-territorial males may well find it safer to simply base themselves in one corner of the reserve, hunting around a particular point that is almost guaranteed to draw in prey species.
This is purely anecdotal and I don’t base it on anything scientific, but there it is all the same…
Over the last week the sightings of him have been fairly consistent, as he has been found at the waterhole probably every other day. Reports of an old unidentified male seen occasionally after dark that had a broken tail tip from a few months ago have now also been cleared up, as it was clearly the Kashane male with the skew tail.
The south-western grasslands tend to be Londolozi’s version of a big cat retirement village, as lower prey densities – particularly a significantly lower impala population – tend to make the area less territorially appealing. As a result, both ousted male lion coalitions and old male leopards have favoured this part of the reserve in their latter year, as evidenced by the Mapogo, the Kruger male lion from the south, and the Mhangeni male leopard to name but a few.
Without territorial pressure it is likely that the Kashane male can continue to eke out an existence, but it’s probably safe to say that his best years are behind him.
Whatever his status in life, his striking eyes remain remain undulled, and are certainly some of the most captivating I’ve ever seen in a leopard. Accentuated by thick black rings around them, their gaze is hard to hold.
I would love to see him stick around, but since the much stronger Inyathini male does occasionally patrol past the waterhole in question, it might not be too long before the Kashane male is pushed out to continue his wanderings elsewhere…