Male leopard dynamics seem to be ever-changing, and recently Ranger Jess Shillaw explored the changes in the territorial habits of the Senegal Bush Male. We have definitely started to see him exploring areas that stretch beyond the borders of Londolozi as he extends his territory further north over the Sand River. Although this is somewhat normal, when a male leopard’s offspring matures and reaches independence, he will have a secondary territorial shift. This we have certainly seen as the Ntomi Male is now over two years old.
A single cub of the Ximungwe Female's second litter. Initially rather skittish but is very relaxed now. Birth mark in his left eye.
However, with the river flowing and females in search of males to mate with, we have been fortunate enough to have viewed him regularly these last few weeks.
He was seen mating with the Nhlanguleni Female for about four days. This new mating bout then answers our questions as to whether or not the Nhlanguleni Female has indeed lost her last litter. Sadly, the answer is yes, but with her mating again, there is a chance that she will give birth to another litter soon.
Initially skittish she spent a lot of time in the Sand River, now relaxed she makes up the majority of leopard viewing west of camp.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
After this pair separated, we found the Senegal Bush Male around the airstrip in the afternoon as he scent-marked through the clearings and headed towards the river. The Sand River was indeed still flowing strongly, so we assumed he would cross into the north and we would have to wait a few days to see him again as we were unable to cross at two of the three river crossings.
The next afternoon, he was found heading south (away from the river). We followed him through a thick area as he then found a small wallow, had a drink, and then continued to scent mark along one of his regular routes. Unknown to him at this stage, his path would take him directly toward a herd of buffalo. Not long after his drink, the calls of a herd of buffalo could be heard close by; this seemed to interest him as he continued to walk in their direction.
Grazing in the long grass, the buffalo were oblivious to his presence. Whether it was intrigue or actual intent to hunt a young buffalo, he continued to stalk the herd. Anything larger than an adolescent buffalo would be too large a target for this powerful male leopard, but a small calf would certainly be snapped up quickly should the opportunity present itself. He stayed with the herd long after the sun went down and was detected by a bull who chased him off. With the moonless night setting in, the darkness would be good hunting conditions for him. However, hunting buffalo is certainly not an easy task, as calves remain close to their mothers as they rest for the night.
We left him overnight as the buffalo herd settled in an open grass area and waited to see what would transpire overnight. The next morning, we headed to that same area to see what had transpired. He was found not with a buffalo kill but rather an impala hoisted in a marula, not far from where we had left him the night before.
After some time while he rested in the tree, he got up, picked up his kill, and descended the tree. He continued to carry it to a thick drainage line where it would be a cool, shady, and concealed spot for him to spend the rest of the day.
With this male progressively expanding his territory and spending many an hour on determined patrols of this territory, sightings of him can be few and far between, so with a bout of regular sightings over the last few weeks, it certainly has been great to have the Senegal Bush Male around again more frequently. We look forward to the next few weeks and seeing what is to come…