The far southern reaches of Londolozi are exciting to explore, mainly because they aren’t driven consistently.
The south-eastern sector is particularly thick, and to be honest, actively tracking leopards down there can be a fairly daunting task. What we have found as a result is that the leopard population in that area remains the least viewed as a group of any on Londolozi. Cubs often stay skittish for longer, not seeing vehicles regularly, and we might go a couple of weeks between confirmed sightings of individuals.
Here though, are the leopards we might expect to see – or at least whose tracks we might expect to find – in the deep southern areas of Londolozi:
The last of Londolozi’s official “Royal” lineage, the Ndzanzeni female is a direct descendant of the original Mother Leopard that was first viewed in 1979. Our fear is that she might die before producing a female heir, thus ending the genetic line (the lineages are only traced through females, not through males), but she is still young (born 2012), so as long as she keeps reproducing, the lineage is in with a fighting chance.
Twice over the past couple of years the Ndzanzeni female has been viewed with a bad injury, hobbling with one foot off the ground and looking fairly emaciated, and both times we have been forced to hold our collective breaths as she pulled through.
She successfully raised the Tortoise Pan male to independence, but unfortunately lost a different male cub earlier this year. Sightings of her have been infrequent over the past few months, likely owing to the incursion of the Three Rivers female into the area, and we believe the Ndzanzeni female may have shifted her territory slightly further south.
Although female leopards regularly set up territories adjacent to their mothers, the Tatowa female was an exception, moving from her birthing area around Ximpalapala Koppie in the north of Londolozi to the deep south-west, probably because so much of the area near the river was already firmly occupied.
This leopard is almost certainly on the podium of least-seen females, inhabiting an area comprised of extensive rocky sections and deep drainage lines that make her hard to find.
The Tatowa female has raised a single male cub to independence, who dispersed and was reportedly seen further south towards Lion Sands, and she is now in the process of raising a second cub – also a young male – to past one year of age.
After briefly moving through Londolozi in 2018, having dispersed from his natal area west of Londolozi, the Nweti male seems to be establishing himself down in the south-eastern corner.
A large chunk of his territory is south of Londolozi, but the increasing frequency with which we’ve been viewing him suggests that he is pushing back north, possibly taking advantage of the ageing of the Inyathini male. In fact, given that no fewer than four new males (Senegal Bush, Mawelawela, Maxim’s, Nweti) are being viewed consistently around the edges of the Inyathini male’s territory, it might be safe to assume that age is finally catching up to him.
If he is or he isn’t either way the Nweti male looks like he’s going to be sticking around…
A couple of drifters have been viewed in the deep south as well, including the Ntsumi female and White Dam male, both who have wandered up from the southern sections of the reserve, and we’ll put together a post on them and a few others once we know a bit more about them.
With a number of young leopards on Londolozi at the moment – some newly independent, some still with their mothers – the whole look of Londolozi’s leopard population could be very different in the next 12-18 months!