It’s back to the twist on animals searching for property.
In a previous post, I wrote about Wild Dogs scratching around for dens. But recently, Londolozi Real Estate is being eyed out by a different species that is in the market for a prime piece of land; Leopards.
Location, location, location. I have said it before – as have most realtors – and will say it again; it is the most important factor and this time it has led to a battle of territories. The Sand River in particular and everything it currently offers in these drier times – water, shade, and food – has become an even more fiercely contested area than usual. This prime real estate is most certainly occupied at the moment, but by whom?
Lately, we have seen much leopard activity happening around the south-central parts of Londolozi. More so, we are seeing more and more interaction and competition between the big males in the area. This is prime territory and it is being hotly contested by a few leopards. The Flat Rock, Inyathini, and the newly-named Tortoise Pan male all have their eyes on this section of the reserve, and have been viewed cery close to each other on more than one occasion. Most interesting of all is that the Tortoise Pan male, son of Inyathini, is showing signs of becoming territorial within his father’s territory.
The Inyathini male has for a long time held a large territory in the south-east, from lower reaches of the Sand River to the eastern edge of the central grasslands. He originated in the Kruger Park so we can’t be exactly sure of his age, but he is certainly in his prime. He does not seem to be attempting to expand territory, but merely to consolidate.
The textbooks will tell us that young male leopards will stray from their mothers anywhere from 18 months and be pushed out of their father’s territory, yet we have observed quite the opposite behaviour in the relationship between the Inyathini male and his son the Tortoise Pan male. They have even been seen mating with the same female together. This has happened before between the Camp Pan an Tu Tones male and the Tambboti female, but who knows how many times it has happened before that, unseen by human eyes. With the viewing of leopards here being unsurpassed, we might be witnessing behaviours that are previously unrecorded.
The question is why is the younger male being tolerated? If I was a betting man, I would say that the Inyathini male is getting older and would rather tolerate his son than constantly compete with any other males coming into the area. The Flat Rock male for instance…
The Flat Rock male began moving northwards onto Londolozi in late 2016 at the age of almost-4 and, now fully matured, he has been seen expanding his territory. As this male grew, he began pushing concurrently northwards and southwards on Londolozi, establishing himself almost overnight as a fiercely dominant male.
I recently witnessed the Inyathini and Flat Rock males come into contact. We watched them chasing each other and both frantically scent marking. Leopards prefer to disdain a physical encounter rather than risk injury or even death; the interaction I saw involved growling but little else, and I do not think boundaries have been established yet. I am sure there will be a few more dealings between these two.
The Flat rock male and the Tortoise pan male seem not to have clashed yet, but it seems just a matter of time before they come into contact.
Only time will tell but some of the most valuable leopard real estate is on the line and we can’t wait to see who the owner will be.