One of the most interesting facts of spending time coexisting with wildlife is that change is inevitable and each day, week, month and year we get to experience unique moments, changes in dynamics and a continual shift in the forms of behaviour within Londolozi’s fauna. Over the past few months, we have begun to experience some exciting changes and shifts in the Leopard territories throughout the reserve. New males moving in, older males moving out, females birthing cubs and leopards becoming independent have all contributed to an exciting and ongoing battle for territory amongst the Leopards of Londolozi.
Leopards, by nature, are extremely territorial. Both males and females will look to occupy the best territory possible. With the male territories being considerably larger than the females, here at Londolozi, we see a much more dense population of female leopards. The continual expanding, shrinking and shifting of the territories is extremely interesting, creating an ever-evolving, natural environment for these elusive predators to exist in.
Because there is so much going on with the leopards I have broken this into a two-part series:
Part 1- Males
Part 2- Females
Male leopards tend to focus their territories around available females in order to mate with and in essence pass on their genes, as well as resources such as food and water. They are much more regimented in their approach, constantly performing territorial patrols to demarcate their boundaries and keep rivals out. Making for males to be the more interesting of the two regarding their territorial behaviour. With some slowly growing older and others entering their prime, we are seeing a slight shift in a few of their territories.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
The Senegal Bush Male has, since late 2019, occupied most of central Londolozi and held his territory firmly, providing our guests with magnificent sightings. However, within the last few months, we’ve been seeing another, younger and equally sized (if not bigger) male move into our eastern parts of the reserve, the Maxim’s Male, arriving on the scene and putting a large amount of pressure on the Senegal Bush Male from the east.
Fairly skittish male that is presumed to have come from the Kruger National Park.
Because of this, the older Senegal Bush Male has shifted his territory a little further north and west towards the Sand River, west of the Londolozi’s camps. This shift in territory is not necessarily a loss for the Senegal Bush Male, as he loses ground to the east he seems to gain ground to the west, in what seems to be fairly vacant land southwest of our camps. Originally occupied by the Flat Rock Male, it has been left vacant as the Flat Rock Male has shifted further north and is now predominantly found north of the Sand River and his territory extends far beyond our northern borders.
A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.
To the southwest, we find the young but impressive Mawelawela Male, pushing back against the advances of the Senegal Bush Male. A relatively unrelaxed Mawelawela Male occupies the open grasslands of Londolozi, unusual terrain for a leopard, but the abundance of zebra and warthog keep him satisfied. However, the lands to the east seem more promising and have resulted in a very interesting conflict between the three dominant males, Senegal Bush Male, Maxim’s Male and the Mawelawela Male, where all three of them could be seen overlapping in a portion of the territory, creating an unknown, interesting leopard dynamic.
Into the deep south of the reserve, we have two formidable males, namely the Nweti Male and White Dam Male. Although not actively applying too much pressure on their northern rivals, these two large males could make a name for themselves in central Londolozi in the future. The Nweti Male, first seen on Londolozi in 2017, he then established a territory in the south-western parts of Dudley subsequent to the demise of the Inyathini Male. Who is still alive and well, however very evidently ageing. He is no longer territorial but lurks along the Sand River in Dudley. The Nweti Male is a very large, tall and attractive male who poses a big threat in the future, should he wish to expand his territory further north.
He is a large, tall, and long male that has an incredible coat with rosettes that have spots in them that resemble those of a jaguar.
The White Dam Male, although a large and established male, was not seen on Londolozi all too often and has only become a more regular feature in the last couple of months. Definitely a potential challenger to the Mawelawela Male further north, the open grasslands make for the territory to be less attractive to a male leopard and possibly unlikely for the White Dam Male to push any further north just yet.
Large handsome male found in the deep southwestern parts of Dudley
Lastly, the formerly known Ximungwe Young Male, recently renamed the Mahlahla Male, is found overlapping slightly with the Flat Rock Male in the northeastern corners of Marthly. Currently chancing his luck with the Flat Rock Male, it will be interesting to see if he stays in this area or searches for a territory further afield.
An inquisitive young male that has been pushed further north by the Senegal Bush Male.
The dynamics amongst the leopards is ever-changing and although we have a glimpse into their lives through the tiny portion of the day that we spend viewing them during the game drives, I am sure there is a lot more that goes on amongst the male leopards and their challenges and battles for the most prime territory, with this and the access to females, comes the greatest chance of passing on their genes. Female leopards are probably the most sought after aspect in the battle for a male’s territory and so with this, we will discuss the female dynamics in the next Leopard Territory update.