What started out as a fairly quiet afternoon drive turned out to be one of the most exciting afternoons yet. We stopped the vehicle briefly when we heard the sound of vervet monkeys alarming at something not too far from where we were. With the intensity of the alarm, we were sure that they had seen a predator, so we quickly made our way to where all the commotion was coming from. That’s when we saw that the Mashaba female had cornered a monkey up a tree.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.
Having seen the video from a while back when Chris Taylor and his guest were treated to some impressive acrobatic skills from the Plaque Rock female, I was excited to see how this scene would play out. It was a game of cat and mouse with the Mashaba female chasing the monkey back and forth for quite some time. We could see that both animals were starting to tire, and the outcome would most likely be determined by whichever animal gave up first.
Then, suddenly, the Mashaba female stopped, looked up, and then ran down the tree. We looked towards where she had shifted her attention and there was the Senegal Bush male approaching the clearing. He must have heard all the commotion and came to investigate. The Mashaba female, looking to avoid any potential confrontation quickly climbed down from the tree and ran off in the opposite direction, leaving the lucky monkey to make its escape.
With the fresh scent of the Mashaba female, the Senegal Bush male climbed the very same tree, (I doubt the monkey would have been able to survive yet another game of cat and mouse so it is lucky that it managed to escape when it did). While the Senegal Bush male was sniffing around there was a distant rasping of another male leopard. He was very quick to respond with a few calls from the top of the tree.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
With the possibility of another male coming into his territory the Senegal Bush male lost interest in the Mashaba female and descended the tree, steadily walking in the direction of where the other male was calling from. He soon started to aggressively scent mark and it wasn’t long after he came to a stop, that we spotted the Mawelawela male.
Began as a fairly unrelaxed leopard in the southwestern parts of the reserve. Now providing great viewing in the open grasslands
After a brief stand-off, they walked parallel to each other while growling and salivating with the odd bit of scent-marking as they walked. Eventually coming to a stop where they both lay down about 50m apart, neither one wanting to risk injury by fighting as they were on the boundary of both their territories.
Both leopards seemed as though they were settling down and it looked as if nothing more was going to materialize (at this point we thought all the afternoon’s excitement had come to an end). Moments later, the silence broke when we heard an animal in distress in the distance.
This caught the attention of the Mawelawela male, and he immediately got up and headed in the direction of the distress calls. While following him with great excitement wondering what more could possibly happen to top what we had already seen, he came to a pause at a clump of grass. He had noticed something. Before we knew it, he had pounced on a steenbok that had tried to conceal itself in the thick grass. Within seconds it was all over, and he trotted off with it in his mouth. We could not believe what an eventful afternoon this turned out to be!