Ranger Sean Zeederberg reports on this dramatic sighting:
“When we arrived the Hosana male was lying on a termite mound about 100 metres away from where the Anderson male was feeding on a kill up in a Marula tree. The Hosana male slowly approached, ending up on another termite mound a lot closer; he was salivating heavily the whole time, as leopards will do when they clash with a rival of the same sex. The Anderson male had meanwhile come down from the tree and started growling as the Hosana male came closer, eventually ending up back at the base of the tree as the Hosana male got to within about 20 metres.
The Hosana male was acting submissively, rolling around on the ground, but yet he still pushed forward, eventually facing off against the much bigger Anderson male from only a metre or two away.
When the Anderson male eventually took a swipe at him, we expected the young male to back down, but he did exactly the opposite, launching himself at his adversary:
Both males seemed to emerge from the brief brawl relatively unhurt, and both stood there for another minute or two growling at each other. The Hosana male clearly wanted to climb the tree, but didn’t want to expose his vulnerable rear and flank to the other male, so he waited until the Anderson male was just out of reach then launched himself up into the branches.
We think the Hosana male had made the kill in the first place, else it would be unlikely that he would have pressed so hard to go up the tree.”
Last year the Anderson male kept the Thamba male (related to the Hosana male) treed for a whole day after he robbed him of a kill, whereas this time, the Hosana male – not too dissimilar in size from the Thamba male – was able to force his way past the Anderson male. It seems that the tables are slowly turning on the old Anderson male, and we may see some dramatic shifts in the male leopard population north of the Sand River over the upcoming months…