The barking of bushbuck is a fairly regular background noise at the Londolozi camps. Sometimes it’s just a couple of males barking at each other, but quite often it indicates a predator moving through, most likely a leopard. Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to spot the cat from the camp decks.
Recently some frantic barking only about 30 metres from the Londolozi office windows alerted us that something was wrong.
Jemma Brewitt from the Londolozi marketing team glanced out of the window and immediately spotted the telltale white tip of a leopard’s tail in the undergrowth.
It’s generally not a good idea to enter thick bushes on foot to get a closer view of a leopard you already know is there, but by hopping in a Land Rover and driving around to the other side we were able to get a bit closer without disturbing the cat.
We could now see the reason for the bushbuck’s earlier consternation; the leopard had killed a very young bushbuck lamb and was plucking its fur in preparation for eating it. The carcass was tiny, and we doubted whether the lamb had been more than a day or two old; it was probably an easy catch for the leopard.
Peering through the binoculars and taking note of the leopard’s spot pattern, we were able to identify him as the Misava male, a young individual who wandered through Londolozi last year but has not been seen since. Being far too small to claim a territory yet, he has most likely been pushed out of his natal area by his father or the dominant male there and is now leading a nomadic life, hoping to eventually reach an age and size at which he can challenge for a territory of his own.
Given that the area around the Londolozi camps is currently under the control of the Flat Rock male, who is unrelated to the Misava male, it is unlikely that this young interloper will stick around.
It’s still great to casually be able to spot a leopard from your office window though…