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Leopard Directory

Pakistan fursan syed Offline
Big Cats Enthusiast
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#61

Short Tail Male Leopard
Of Sabi Sands


*This image is copyright of its original author

Mala Mala Sighting Reports Of 2002, 2003 and 2004

2002

June 2002

Two sightings of the male leopard with the shorter than average tail. Both sightings were close to the Sand River and between Harrys Camp and Mala Mala Main Camp. At the one sighting, this at night when this male leopard seems to ignore vehicles, the leopard was actively scent-marking in an area where the Rock Drift Male, one of his old adversaries, had probably just walked through. At the time the Rock Drift Male was a kilometre or so from this other leopard, walking down the road, also scent-marking. The status of the male leopard with the shorter-than-average tail remains an mystery - while the dominance of the Newington Male (probably his son) in much of this male leopards' old haunts suggests that he is no longer a force to be reckoned with, other behaviour indicates otherwise. Another sighting of a male leopard in this same aforementioned area may also have been of this same animal.

July 2002

At least three sightings : Two of these sightings involved female leopards, one when he was in the area of the Ngoboswan Female and all three of her cubs and another when he appropriated a kill from the Kapen Female leopard. The Ngoboswan Female is one of his old mates and the two were seen walking side-by-side with no hostilities evident at all. However, the fact that both were also surrounded by irate elephants probably meant that they had more immediate things on their minds than mutual dislike for one another. When this leopard was seen taking the remains of a bushbuck kill from the Kapen Female, the latter made it quite clear that she was unhappy with the male and made good her exit from the tree whilst he climbed it to take the carcass. On another occasion, this old male was seen on his own near the Mala Mala Causeway close to the Main Camp. This was well after dark. Earlier that morning, a male leopard was seen briefly to the west of Harrys Camp and it could have been this same male which then made his way up towards the general area of the causeway during the day.

August 2002

8 sightings : This veteran of the north-western parts of the reserve, in the area close to the Sand River between the Main Camp and Harrys Camp, seemed to enjoy a good month. At the beginning of the game-report-period, he was found eyeing out the remains of a rotting buffalo carcass, at the time being eaten by lions. Realising the rashness of trying to steal any of the meat, the leopard moved on. A few days later he was found together with his old mate, the Ngoboswan Female and her three cubs, which had a kill in a nearby tree. This male leopard, although not the father of the cubs (the Newington Male mated with the Ngoboswan Female), seems to get on well with them. The Ngoboswan Female herself paid him almost no heed and the cubs even played with his tail on one occasion before lying down close to him. Over the last year, this once very nervous leopard seems to have relaxed down quite well in the presence of landrovers.
One of the last sightings of this male leopard in August also involved his old adversary the Rock Drift Male, as well as a pack of Wild Dogs. The Rock Drift Male chanced upon the pack of Wild Dogs which had just killed a bushbuck and stole the carcass from them, taking it up a tree. When the pack left the area, they encountered the male leopard with the short tail which they then briefly harassed, forcing him to climb a tree. Once the Wild Dogs had left, the leopard moved on and came across the Rock Drift Male eating the kill. The two leopards confronted one another and the result was the Rock Drift Male moving off, leaving the other male to eat from the remains of the kill. The outcome of this interaction was somewhat surprising since all indications have so far been that the Rock Drift Male is by far the stronger of the two, not only besting the other in physical interactions, but also getting to mate with females once under his control. Goodness knows what transpired in this particular conflict which occurred on what must certainly be the very northwestern border of the Rock Drift Males' territory, but the male leopard with the short tail certainly triumphed.

September 2002

2 confirmed sightings : These sightings were within less than 24hours of each other and both far south in the area considered his territory (if he even has one given his relationship with the females in the area as well as the Newington Male). He may have been responding to a conflict between his old mate, the Ngoboswan Female, and another young female which appears to have set up residence to the south of the Ngoboswan Female. The interaction between the two females may well have caused this old leopard to make an appearance. The day before the first of these two encounters, there was a brief sighting of a male leopard leaping out of a tree with the remains of a kill in his mouth. The area in which this occurred, southwestern Marthly, is an area which this old male certainly used to frequent and, given his often nervous disposition, particularly when food is around, the leopard seen leaping from the tree may well have been him.

October 2002

11 sightings of the adult male leopard with the shorter than expected tail:
All sightings were close to the Sand River from as far south as Flockfield (south of Harrys Camp) and then as far north as the lower parts of the Manyelethi and Mlowathi Rivers. This male leopard, which is relaxing nicely in the presence of landrovers, delivered some good viewing during October and was seen interacting with several other leopards, including the White Cloth Female and her son, the cubs of the Ngoboswan Female and the Newington Male.
In the latter encounter, which occurred towards the lower reaches of the Mlowathi River, the Newington Male (which may in fact be the older male leopards' son) was found cowering in a tree with the male leopard with the short tail waiting below. Two male lions were watching this interaction from 100 or so metres away. Eventually the male leopard with the shortish tail wandered off and the Newington Male climbed down and drifted away. That afternoon the male leopard with the short tail was still in the area, this time close to a tree in which the remains of an impala were hanging. It is not certain which of the male leopards had actually killed the impala, perhaps the Newington Male since the previous day the male leopard with the short tail was a kilometre further south with the cubs of the Ngoboswan Female and was eating the remains of a bushbuck kill. The cubs of the Ngoboswan Female were fathered by the Newington Male which actually mated with the Ngoboswan Female whilst the male leopard with the short tail looked on. The male leopard with the short tail is the old mate of the Ngoboswan Female and seems to get on very well with her and her cubs. When the male leopard with the short tail started to feed from the kill, the two male lions, which had been lying in the area for the entire day, came along to investigate and even tried to scale the tree. But they managed to get nothing and the old male leopard simply settled down in the tree to wait for the lions to move off. The third interaction seen to involve this male leopard had him stealing another kill, this time a bushbuck from the White Cloth Female and her son. The White Cloth Female tried to regain the carcass, but failed and eventually left the male leopard to feed on the kill. There is some thought that the male leopard with the short tail fathered the first of the White Cloth Females' cubs and although he is probably not the father of her current youngsters, is no doubt familiar with the White Cloth Female. Perhaps due to this existing 'understanding' there was not much overt hostility displayed between the White Cloth Female and the male leopard with the shortish tail.

November 2002

2 definite sightings of the adult male leopard with the shorter than expected tail:
Aside from these two confirmed sightings of this particular male leopard, which controls the general area between Harrys Camp and the Mala Mala Main Camp, there were two other sightings of a male leopard during November which were almost certainly of him. One of the sightings of what was probably this male had him in front of the Mala Mala Main Camp, in the general area of where some lions had some or other kill. It is quite likely that the leopard had been attracted to the scene of the kill and was hoping for an easy meal. But with lions around this would have been unlikely. Otherwise there was nothing terribly exciting to report on this leopard.

December 2002

The four sightings of this old leopard suggested that he is still strong and in control and in fact even edging slightly beyond the usually fairly strictly controlled boundaries of a male leopards territory. There were two encounters with male leopard which had him entering areas around the lower parts of the Matshapiri River thought to be more under the control of the Rock Drift Male. These particular regions were certainly patrolled by this male leopard some years ago, this before the Rock Drift Male moved north and pushed him back. But with the Rock Drift Male perhaps weakening somewhat, opportunity beckons for these areas to be reclaimed.

All Credits Goes To Mala Mala





One day's life of a lion is preferable to hundred years of a jackal "Tipu Sultan"
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Pakistan fursan syed Offline
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#62

Short Tail Male Leopard

Of Sabi Sands


*This image is copyright of its original author

2003

January 2003

6 confirmed sightings of the adult male leopard with the shorter than expected tail:

There were also two sightings of leopards which could well have been of this sometimes quite shy male, both in areas considered to be within his territory. Towards the beginning of the game-report-period, the male leopard was seen with the Ngoboswan Female and her two cubs around the scene of an adult female impala carcass. It's not certain which of the leopards killed the impala, but all four appeared to have fed from it. Although the male leopard with the short tail is not the father of the cubs of the Ngoboswan Female, all are familiar with one another and few, if any, hostilities are evident amongst them. At another sighting, this male leopard was seen mating with a large and relaxed female leopard on the western bank of the Sand River, not far south of the Mala Mala Main Camp. The female leopard was not identified and the area in which the mating was taking place was in the very centre of the Ngoboswan Females' territory. But this is not unusual; when a female leopard is in season, it will frequently seek out a male leopard and follow it, even deep into the territory of other female leopards. When the mating is over - and this may take several days - the leopard will return to its own territory. Other sightings of the short-tailed male leopard offered nothing exciting beyond the inevitable and never-ending patrolling of territory.

February 2003

5 confirmed sightings: For much of the month this leopard, guardian of the Ngoboswan Female and her cubs (probably his 'grandcubs') was sporting a very obvious wound on his lower flank, perhaps sustained in some or other fight with another leopard. Although obvious to the observer, the wound did not appear to be troubling the leopard too much. Sightings of this leopard ranged from upstream in the Manyelethi River to opposite Harry's Camp. Although now almost considered to be a leopard oblivious to the presence of landrovers, the male leopard with the shortish tail still deliberately enters areas impossible for landrovers to follow; he does not bolt into such places when seen, but walks calmly but intently towards them with the full knowledge that once there, landrovers will not follow.

March 2003


This old male leopard was seen where expected this month and that being within the area of land between Mala Mala Main Camp and Harry's Camp and a little to the northwest of this as well.  There was one sighting when he was seen briefly with the cubs of the Ngoboswan Female, leaving them soon after the first landrover discovered them.  Although he is not the father of these cubs, his relationship with their mother goes way back and he seems to act as their paternal protector.  At another sighting of this male leopard, he was found close to the Main Camp with the carcasses of an adult baboon as well as an adult male impala; these lasted several days.  He still bears the open wound on his left rear leg (probably sustained in a fight with another leopard) first seen well over a month ago.  Although the wound is still open and certainly looks dramatic against his orange and black coat, it does not seem to be troubling him.

April 2003


6 confirmed sightings of the adult male leopard with the shorter than expected tail: 
This old male leopard, although appearing to remain in good general health, does not, overall, seem to be prospering.  The Newington Male, which is probably his son and which he ran out of his territory a year or so ago, returned during April and stayed for quite some time.  Although the two were not seen to confront one another, the male leopard with the shortish tail was soon sporting a noticeable gash on his nose, perhaps from an encounter with the Newington Male.  Whether this is indeed the beginning of the end for this veteran, time will of course tell.  But he has been around for some years now and cannot last forever. 
The final sighting  of the male leopard with the shortish tail over the April report period was of him opportunistically catching a baby duiker and then dashing up a thorn-tree with the prey in order to escape from a hyena which appeared from nowhere almost as soon as the baby duiker bleated in distress upon being caught.  But the tree could hardly have been more hideous for the leopard; it was solid with sharp white thorns, surely making an uncomfortable perch.  But he managed to get away with it.  The hyena hung around for a while at the base of the tree, at first literally gnashing his teeth with rage and frustration, and breaking branches from the lower parts of the tree.  When that failed to get the leopard to jump out or let the prey drop, the hyena pretended to wander off, again no doubt hoping that the leopard would then vacate his prickly roost.  Still, the leopard failed to budge.  And ultimately the leopards' patience must have won.  The following morning the old male leopard was still in the area, this time on the ground near the tree and chewing on the scraps of the small kill.  He still had a few thorns embedded in his coat.  Nearby to where the last of the carcass was being eaten, was another leopard, the Campbell Koppies Female, which is probably his daughter, this assuming he was mating with the Ngoboswan Female leopard three-and-a-half years ago.  The young female leopard, now with a territory of her own and having mated already with the Newington Male (perhaps her half-brother), was cautiously watching the male leopard chew at the last of the scraps, no doubt hoping that he would leave at least something for her.  But this was not to be.  The male leopard, although he simply must have been aware of the presence of the Campbell Koppies Female, did not even acknowledge it and, when finished, turned his back on her and groomed himself for a while before moving off, leaving the female to head away in the opposite direction.

May 2003


4 confirmed sightings of the adult male leopard with the shorter than expected tail: 

*This image is copyright of its original author

There was nothing exceptional to report on this male leopard as far as sightings went this month.  Early encounters with the Newington Male, his past nemesis, indicated that the Newington Male was still within the area under the control of this male leopard with the short tail.  Movements of the Newington Male later on in the month suggested that he had at least temporarily vacated these areas to the south of the vast territory which he now seems to control.  Towards the end of May, the fresh wounds seen last month on the male leopard with the shortish tail, perhaps inflicted in a fight with another male leopard and this perhaps being the Newington Male, were healing well and the old soldier was behaving along more expected lines.  One wonders just how long this will last.


June 2003

The single encounter with this old male leopard was near the Mala Mala Bridge, close to the western parts of the Mala Mala/ Flockfield Boundary.  Soon after he was found, the leopard entered some reedbeds and was lost from view.  A few hours later and not far to the west of this position, there was a report of a male leopard together with a female leopard.  The Ngoboswan Female had been seen in that area earlier.  Could it have been that she had met up with the male with the shortish tail?  The two leopards have certainly been acquainted for several years.

July 2003

7 sightings: Of the sightings of this old male leopard, two were of him together with one of the daughters of the Ngoboswan Female, a leopard he has long been associated with.  On these two occasions, the male leopard had the carcass of a baboon and although hostile towards the daughter of the Ngoboswan Female, he probably allowed her to share the meal.  Otherwise, the short-tail-male survived the month and appeared to come out of it looking a great deal stronger than he has over the last few months, perhaps because the Newington Male stayed away - as far as encounters with the Newington Male suggested that is.

August 2003

August seemed to have been a good month for this male leopard and he tackled not only the maintenance of his territory and every-day food management with success, but also the unscheduled day-to-day dramas which will always be part of nature.  At the beginning of the month, he was forced to sit tight when two young lions tried to steal a bushbuck carcass which he had hoisted into a tree.  Although the young lions managed to get away with some of the kill, the leopard refused to be panicked and secured the remainder and then waited until the lions finally realised that they were making fools of themselves. 
Less than a week later, he suddenly pitched up to chase away the Kapen Female leopard and her nearly two-year-old daughter from a bushbuck kill which the Kapen Female had only the day before taken from her sister, the White Cloth Female.  The area in which this action occurred was probably just outside the territorial limit of the male leopard, but close enough for him to respond to temptation.  Since the Kapen Female 'belongs' to the Rock Drift Male, she and her daughter were not greeted with any sort of friendliness and fled from the area when the male leopard with the short tail came roaring in.

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

On 26 August, two leopards were found to be mating on the western bank of the Sand River, to the east of the Mala Mala airstrip.   The leopards involved were the Ngoboswan female and the short-tailed male, known to be a previous mate of hers. 


September 2003

Location: SE MARTHLY/ W MALA MALA
(4 confirmed sightings)
The monthly-report-period started off well for the Short Tail Male when he was seen mating with the Ngoboswan Female, his long-term 'associate' within the area he controls.  Although the two were seen together for only one day, they disappeared into thick bush and, as with most leopard mating events, they almost certainly continued to mate for several days.


This mating, however, came to nought since two weeks later, the Ngoboswan Female was again mating, but this time with one of the Short Tail Males' bitter rivals, the Rock Drift Male, indicating that the Ngoboswan Female had made a deliberate excursion out of her territory to seek another male leopard.  And this seems to be the story of the life of the Short Tail Male - female leopards, although apparently respectful of his physical ability to fight off other males, have little faith in his fertility and matings with rival males have become the norm.  This has been seen with the old Mlowathi Female, the Newington Female and two years ago when the Ngoboswan Female was seen mating with the Newington Male.  The amazing thing, of course, is that when the 'other' male leopards' cubs are born, the Short Tail Male continues to care for them in the way expected of a dominant male.
Other sightings of this old male leopard this month were more routine.


October 2003

SHORT TAIL MALE
Location: SE MARTHLY/ SW EYREFIELD/ NW MALA MALA
(8 confirmed sightings)
Although the Short Tail Male leopard was seen on several occasions and apparently getting good food to eat, there were several signs that he is being pressurised by other male leopards which occupy land on his peripheries.  At least three male leopards were seen within his territory this month, these the Rock Drift and Newington Males and a young male leopard which appears to have come down from the northwestern parts of the reserve.

The Short Tail Male also had fresh wounds on his lower back, these perhaps the result of a vicious fight with another male leopard.

So is he weakening or not?  The drought conditions which have almost certainly caused some prey species such as impala to leave areas that have no water would cause leopards in such territories to invade more productive territories, such as the prime riverine areas occupied by the Short Tail Male.  A shortage of resources would then cause conflict which would otherwise not really exist and this could be the reason why so many invaders have been seen.  But then again it might be that the old leopard simply is indeed finally giving in and others, on the wings and set on expanding territory, are testing.
Of the eight sightings of the Short Tail Male, four were on successive day, just south of the causeway, when he was seen first with the carcass of a sub adult baboon and then with that of an adult female impala, the latter in a huge Jackalberry Tree.

November 2003

SHORT TAIL MALE
Location: SE MARTHLY/ NW MALA MALA
(7 confirmed sightings)

The Short Tail Male really appears to be in decline; not only are his movements definitely more localised, as if he is almost reluctant to get out there and patrol vital borders, but other male leopards continue to enter the area long considered and respected as his exclusive domain.  Amongst these 'invading' male leopards are the Rock Drift and Newington Males, as well as at least one other young adult male which is thought to have a territory to the north of that which up until now has been Short Tail Males'
Towards the beginning of the report-period, the Short Tail Male spent several days scavenging from the rotting carcass of a female buffalo which had died, apparently of natural causes, close to the junction of the Mlowathi and Sand Rivers.  Fortunately for the leopard, hyaenas in the area didn't appear to be too interested in his windfall.

December 2003

SHORT TAIL MALE
Location: SE MARTHLY/ NW MALA MALA
(4 confirmed sightings)

The old Short Tail Male really seems to be giving up on things and sightings this month were again restricted to a small area around the Sand River on NW Mala Mala, an area with good numbers of prey species, where an old leopard can almost 'retire' with little effort.  There appeared to be almost no energy put into patrolling territory, particularly in seeing off other male leopards such as the Newington and Rock Drift Males which have been 'invading' his land for some months now.

But, in spite of 'relaxing' or perhaps giving up, the Short Tail Male still faces everyday dangers.  This month he nearly lost his life when he snuck in to scavenge from a buffalo carcass which two male lions had been feeding from.  When he arrived, the male lions were resting in some reeds nearby and the Short Tail Male crept around them and started to feed.  The lions were unaware of the leopard, but when one of them moved towards the carcass after a few vultures passed low overhead, it noticed him.  The wind was strong and the leopard had his back towards the lions, allowing the lion to creep up within metres of the unsuspecting leopard.  Just what alerted the leopard isn't known, but he only just managed to dash off in time and after a long and fierce chase through the thick reeds, the leopard managed to shake the lion off.  If the lion was any leaner, perhaps he would have caught the leopard and this would have been his end.


All Credits Goes To Mala Mala

One day's life of a lion is preferable to hundred years of a jackal "Tipu Sultan"
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Pakistan fursan syed Offline
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#63

Short Tail Male Leopard

Of Sabi Sands

*This image is copyright of its original author

2004

January 2004

SHORT TAIL MALE
Location: SE MARTHLY/ NW MALA MALA
(8 confirmed sightings)
The Short Tail Male continues to struggle on with his movements again constrained to the area of northwestern Mala Mala, a sure sign that he is no longer capable of patrolling his once big boundaries to protect them from his adversaries.

And the leopard which appears to be the one set to profit most from this loss of power is the Rock Drift Male.  After pushing deeper and deeper into the Short Tail Males' territory over the last few months, the two leopards were finally seen facing one another in mid-January.  This occurred near the causeway over the Sand River, in what up until now has been in the very heart of Short Tail Male-land.  There was much scent-marking and roaring from both leopards and at one stage they were very close to each other, growling and posturing.  But in spite of this, the two weren't seen to come to blows (although the Short Tail Male did have a wound on his hip when the two were found) and they eventually parted ways, scent-marking as they went. But, without doubt, the writing is on the wall for the Short Tail Male and it cannot be long now before he's finally chased from the area.
The final sighting of the Short Tail Male this month also involved some lions that had found him up a tree in which he had the remains of a young bushbuck carcass.  The lions wanted the kill, small as it was, and of course would have gone to great lengths to kill the leopard.  But the Short Tail Male is a seasoned veteran and although the interaction lasted at least 12 hours, the lions were the losers and the leopards' patience won the day.

February 2004

SHORT TAIL MALE
Location: WESTERN MALA MALA/ NW FLOCKFIELD
(8 confirmed sightings)
Its not certain whether the Short Tail Male had a reversal of fortunes this month or not, but for him this observation period ended off with a confrontation between himself and the Rock Drift Male, the leopard which has been pressurising and dominating him for some time now.
This event took place on western Flockfield, an area once patrolled by this old male, but which in recent months has probably been denied to him.  The Short Tail Male was seen approaching the Rock Drift Male and Ngoboswan Female as they were sharing the carcass of an adult male impala, probably killed on the last day of a marathon mating session.  Once these two leopards had fed from the kill, the Short Tail Male marched in and helped himself, watched by an apparently submissive Rock Drift Male.
Now, was this interaction a once-off due to the fact that the Rock Drift Male was simply too tired to respond, this after perhaps a week of mating, or was he truly wary of the Short Tail Male which might suddenly have found some inner strength and is now on the rebound?  Or, was it simply due to the fact that the Short Tail Male is indeed completely past it and not even worth responding to?
The months beginning had similarities for the Short Tail Male, but here only as far as helping himself to the meals of others was concerned.  At one sighting the Short Tail Male was seen appropriating an impala carcass from the Campbell Koppies Female (which could very well be his daughter) and then, just over a week later, a kill from the Ngoboswan Female.

March 2004


SHORT TAIL MALE

Location: SW EYREFIELD/ NW MALA MALA
(2 confirmed sightings)

Sightings of the Short Tail Male weren't particularly out of the ordinary and showed a leopard patrolling territory.  Towards the end of last month, the Short Tail Male appeared to have the upper hand in a confrontation with the Rock Drift Male, this reversing all trends which, for the last few months, have indicated an old male leopard about to be kicked out of his territory.
This month the Rock Drift Male was seen only once and this towards the very eastern parts of his range.  Goodness knows what could have happened to him, but in his absence, the Short Tail Male may recover slightly and, at least for a brief while longer, could regain his place as the dominant male leopard.

April 2004


SHORT TAIL MALE

Location: W MALA MALA/ NW FLOCKFIELD (4 confirmed sightings)

The Short Tail Male seemed to have had a reasonable month.  On the day that his arch-rival, the Rock Drift Male, was challenged by the Hlarulini Male, the Short Tail Male arrived in the area and sniffed around, noting exactly what must have happened.  The realisation that his enemy had been humiliated must have been good news for the Short Tail Male and probably gave him a much needed confidence boost.


The last sighting of the Short Tail Male over this report-period was of him taking on two hyaenas which had just stolen a bushbuck carcass.  After following the trail left by the hyaenas, the Short Tail Male caught up with them and, before the hyaenas knew what was happening, charged in, trying to intimidate them from the meat.  Although it nearly worked, the hyaenas quickly realised that it was only a leopard taking them on and, before the Short Tail Male could snatch up the carcass, they turned on him and forced him to back off.

May 2004


SHORT TAIL MALE

Location: W MALA MALA/ NW FLOCKFIELD (8 confirmed sightings)

The Short Tail Male survived yet another month, patrolling the area which he's claimed for so long, but at the same time having his steps followed by his arch-rival, the Rock Drift Male.  The two male leopards seemed to overlap one another almost completely and one wonders just how long this will go on for before one of them is finally forced from the area.


*This image is copyright of its original author
One of the last sightings of the Short Tail Male this month was of him  looking very well fed and lying in the Manyelethi River close to where an adult male lion was resting.  The male lion was also as fat as could be and had been in the area for some time, probably feeding from some or other carcass hidden nearby.  Chances are that the Short Tail Male had been attracted to the area by the smell of carrion and, with only one lion to contend with, had cleverly scavenged from whatever carcass it was whenever the lion had its back turned. 

June 2004


*This image is copyright of its original author

The Short Tail Male leopard seen during June 2004

July 2004


SHORT TAIL MALE

Location: W MALA MALA/ NW FLOCKFIELD (11 sightings)

The Short Tail Male leopard is dead!   This sad news might not be altogether surprising, as this old leopard had come under tremendous pressure in recent months.   His demise was not undignified, and in the end it was a mauling from lions that ended his days.   More about that later.

His final month was one of the best, in terms of the number of times he was sighted, and also the quality of the sightings.   He was seen 11 times during July - more frequently than any other leopard on Mala Mala, and most of the sightings were memorable or even dramatic.   At the beginning of the game report period, he was seen to be extremely well fed, and he spent much of the month in an area not far from Mala Mala Camp.  



A memorable sighting involved the Short Tail Male, the Rock Drift Male and the Ngoboswan Female.   The Rock Drift Male had once again been mating with the Ngoboswan Female a couple of days earlier, and now she found herself with two males, neither of them willing to give in to the other.   From interactions between the two males, which included "lateral displaying", it was no simple matter to determine which one had the upper hand.   No physical fighting was seen to take place, and the psychological battle seemed to be pretty evenly matched.   The area where these interactions took place is well within what has for many years been Short Tail Male territory, but has over the last several months been hotly challenged by the Rock Drift Male.

A couple of relatively "calm" sightings of the Short Tail Male followed over the next few days, and then a week after his fracas with the Rock Drift Male, he was seen close to the camp again, now with some very deep and painful looking fang marks in his head.   A baboon had been found dying close to the camp that morning, with teeth marks in its neck, and it seems likely that this baboon had been caught by a leopard, and that the leopard had been interrupted before the baboon had quite died.   The conclusion drawn was that the leopard had been attacked by other baboons, probably including a couple of large males, while he was in the process of strangling his victim.   The canines of a large male baboon are somewhat longer than those of a leopard, and the leopard probably beat a hasty retreat.   When he was seen 12 hours later, crossing the causeway, he was not a pretty sight.   He was seen again the next evening, hunting in the general area of Picadilly and the Sand River banks close to the camp, but without success.

A few days later another sighting involved the Short Tail Male, the Rock Drift Male and a baboon kill.   This was on the eastern bank of the Sand River, not far south of the camp.   A large adult male baboon had been killed and treed, and both male leopards were in the area, taking turns to feed.   Not much was seen in the way of any aggression between the two male leopards, but the two enemies kept just far enough away from each other to not invade "personal space".   The food source was there, and each leopard was prepared to wait his turn to feed.   To live, you have to eat, and if there is food for the taking, sometimes you have to put up with somebody else who also wants to eat.   The Short Tail Male and Rock Drift Male shared this kill for two days.   On the third day, there was nothing left of the kill, and the Rock Drift Male had left the area.   The Short Tail Male was still around the general area, resting in reeds of the Sand River bed.   From there he moved westwards.

This sighting of the Short Tail Male on 21 July 2004 was the last sighting of him on Mala Mala.   He was seen a couple of days later on a neighbouring reserve to the west, scavenging from a buffalo carcass, the buffalo having been killed by lions.   The leopard, however, pushed his luck a little too far, and was caught by the lions, which mauled him so badly that he would not recover.

For many months the Short Tail Male had been "playing with fire", and there was an occasion several months ago when he was very nearly caught by male lions at the site of their buffalo kill in the Sand River bed close to Mala Mala Camp.   The fact that he had resorted to hunting baboons suggested that this ageing male leopard was being frustrated in many of his attempts to catch more "conventional" prey.   Over the last 6 months or so, his condition varied.   Sometimes he looked extremely thin and tatty, on other occasions he looked well fed, sleek and good for a few more years.
Nobody knows just how old the Short Tail Male leopard was, but he must have been a good 13 or 14 years old.   He was first seen on Mala Mala at least a decade ago.   In those days he was a rather flighty young male, seldom seen by day, and even elusive at night.   Having not grown up with Land Rovers, he took a long, long time to accept them, and sightings of him were often short-lived.   Up until 2 or 3 years ago, he remained nervous of vehicles by day, but had become quite tolerant of them at night.   In fact, he could often be followed on the hunt at night, and was frequently seen to kill prey in the presence of vehicles.   More recently he became a thoroughly viewable leopard during the day, and was something of a legend in his own time.   Never an attractive animal, the Short Tail Male certainly had a huge amount of attitude and character, and rangers' fond stories of him will be told for years to come.   His death marks the end of an era, but will perhaps increase the expected longevity of the Rock Drift Male, who now has one less rival to deal with in his bid to extend his territory northwards.   The Short Tail Male will be missed!

All Credits Goes To Mala Mala
One day's life of a lion is preferable to hundred years of a jackal "Tipu Sultan"
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( This post was last modified: 02-06-2017, 08:44 PM by Ngala Edit Reason: add lineage )

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Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male (Airstrip Male)

Mother: Dudley Riverbank 3:3 Female (Dudley Female)
Father: Tugwaan 5:4 Male (Bicycle Crossing Male)
Littermate: Dudley Riverbank 4:3 Male (Xovonikela)

2006 - 2016

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Unique MarkingsBlind in left eye (opaque blue).

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The story of this leopard has become the stuff of legend. Feeding off a kill with his mother as a cub, the 5:5 young male was somehow adopted by the 3:4 female after she brought her cub to feed on the same kill. Unbelievably, this old leopard took it upon herself to raise this cub of her daughter, and it was solely thanks to her efforts that he survived to independence. A further twist in the tale was that when the 3:4 female was old and becoming infirm, the 5:5 male was seen sharing kills with her on multiple occasions. Male leopards are not known for sharing kills with females, but the fact that this male repeatedly did so with the 3:4 female suggests some very strong tie not previously documented in leopards in the wild.

Upon approaching full size, the 5:5 male began encroaching into the Camp Pan male’s territory around the Londolozi camps, and for a while looked set to establish himself and topple the older male, but the disappearance of the Emsagwen 4:6 male in the east left a territory vacant, and the 5:5 male simply headed there instead. He has remained there to this day, despite losing the use of his left eye, possibly in a fight with another leopard.

As of mid 2015 the 5:5 male has started being seen in a number of spots far outside his usual territory, suggesting that he is under pressure from other another male(s) or has already been ousted.

He is believed to have killed the October 2015 litter of the Tamboti female.

Territory:
A male that claimed territory fairly easily in eastern Marthly upon the disappearance of the Emsagwen male. We continue to see this male occasionally around the eastern portion of Londolozi, both north and south of the Sand River.

2007

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2008

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2009

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2010

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2011

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2014

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2016

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Marthly 3:2 Male (Tyson)

Sons: 
2009: Litter: Nyelethi 4:3 Male + Nyelethi 2:3 Young male + Nanga 4:3 Female (Moya) -----> Mother: Nyelethi 4:4 Female 
2011: Nhlanguleni 3:2 Female -----> Mother: Tutlwa 4:3 Female 
2012: Nkoveni 2:2 Female -----> Mother: Mashaba 3:3 Female
           Tatowa 3:3 Female -----> Mother: Ximpalapala 4:4 Female

2001 - 2015

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Unique Markings: Long mane.

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Torn right ear.

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Left hand side has a small third spot.

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This unmistakeable male began being viewed more regularly from 2010 onwards, pushing in from the north of the reserve and forcing the dominant Camp Pan male out. His characteristic mane and notched right ear were easily recognisable. Almost immediately upon his encroachment into the territories of the females along the river, they all began falling pregnant, providing further evidence to support the theory that the ageing Camp Pan male may have become infertile in his old age.

The Marthly male quickly established himself as the dominant male along the Sand River towards the end of 2011, and the Camp Pan male was forced further south.

Towards the end of 2012 the slightly younger Gowrie male began encroaching from the north, forcing the Marthly male to consolidate his territory along an east-west line through the centre of the Marthly property. Venturing as far south as the Maxabene river, the territory was still large enough to allow for adequate mating access to females

By mid-2014 however, the Marthly male was hardly ever viewed north bank of the Sand River, yet he continued to be be active between the Maxabene and Londolozi Camps.

Caught between the newly arrived Piva and Inyathini males in the south and the 4:4 male to the west, the Marthly male was eventually forced out of his territory altogether, and was nomadic as of the beginning of 2015.

Forced to keep a low profile, avoiding other big males in the area, his condition steadily deteriorated and he was viewed for the last time on Londolozi in winter of 2015, very undernourished and with a number of injuries.

It is assumed that he died shortly after, as after one or two sightings on other properties, he was not seen again.

Territory:
This male found himself sandwiched between a number of other dominant males throughout his life but managed to hold territory in Marthly, along the Sand River and later northern Sparta. In his later years, he spent a great deal of time south of the Sand River and north of Main Road where there are a number of prominent termite mounds. He would use these as vantage points as well as easy spots to sit and stake out warthog burrows.

2009

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2012

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2013

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2014

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2015

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Tu-Tones 3:2 Male (Newington Male)

Mother: Maxabene 2:2 Female (Western Female)
Father: Camp Pan 4:3 Male (Xmobonyane, Princess Alice Pans Male)
Littermate: Makhotini 3:3 Male (Maxabene Male)
Sons: 
2013: Tamboti 5:3 Young Female (Island Female) -----> Mother: Tamboti 4:3 Female

2008 - 2015

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Unique Markings: Wonky eye.

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Pink nose.

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Originally the Maxabene 3:2 young male, and born in the same litter as the Makhotini male, the Tu-Tones male was an individual that single-handedly rewrote the textbooks on leopard behaviour.

His movements upon independence were probably a result of a combination of factors, but essentially what happened was that he didn’t disperse as young males generally do, but instead stayed pretty much within the confines of his father’s territory. Another behavioural anomaly was that his father (the Camp Pan male) seemed to accept his presence; although there was some snarling and aggression towards each other when they met, there was no physical confrontation witnessed. The death of his mother and the fact that the one female cub she raised to independence had dispersed a long way away meant that there was no real genetic pressure for him to disperse either.

Whatever the case, the Tu-Tones male was an almost constant presence in the territory controlled by the Camp Pan male, and the two were even seen sharing mating rights with the Tamboti female on at least two separate occasions.

Unfortunately for this young male, his unusual co-territorial occupation with his father was to be his downfall, as once the Camp Pan male became unseated in 2014 by the Piva male, the Tu-Tones male, having not been properly territorial himself, seems to have been unable to maintain any kind of hold on the territory his father had been defending, and was forced into a nomadic lifestyle almost overnight. His condition deteriorated very quickly from there, and he was last seen on Londolozi in the late Summer of 2015.

He was found dead to the east of our boundary in late March of that year, and tracks in the area suggested that a troop of baboons had killed him. His emaciated condition would have made him incredibly vulnerable.

Territory:
A remarkable story in which this leopard established his territory in eastern Sparta within the territory of his father (something that is typical of female but not male leopards). He died prematurely at the age of 7, close to the time of death of his father and thus we were not able to see how the extension of his territory would have played out.

2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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2015

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Gowrie 2:2 Male

2005 - 2015

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Unique Markings: Orange eyes, scar next to single spot on his left cheek.

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The Gowrie male first appeared in the Sabi Sands around 2011, and was reportedly quite skittish. This makes it likely that he was born in the Kruger Park and grew up unused to vehicles. His dispersal into the private game reserve system as a young male meant he soon began being viewed regularly and began to relax around vehicles as a result. Judging by his size when he was first viewed, he is estimated to have been born around 2005/2006, although it is impossible to say for sure.

As he moved into the northern parts of Londolozi in 2012, he began putting pressure on the dominant and much older Marthly male, who was forced to retreat slowly, conceding territory all the time and eventually being forced south of the Sand River altogether. The Gowrie male’s arrival was ill-timed as far as the local female population was concerned, as the Tutlwa and Ximpalapala females were raising litters at the time, both of which were believed to have been killed by the Gowrie male.

The Gowrie male subsequently became dominant over the whole of Marthly, even being seen on the Southern bank of the river on a few occasions. Then, in mid-2015, sightings of him suddenly dried up. No tracks moved through the Manyelethi River and his territorial call was heard no more.

Eventually it was accepted that he was dead, through causes unknown. A part of a leopard’s lower jaw was found in the Manyelethi riverbed near Marthly Pools, but as the displaced Marthly male had been seen in the area only a few months previously, it remains unclear who the jaw belonged to.

Territory:
This male established himself as the dominant male in the north of Londolozi on the section known as Marthly. He would move between the northern bank of the Sand River, with its profileration of game, through the rocky sections of central Marthly and through the seasonal Manyelethi River to our northern boundary. His territory had many females falling within it; a major drawing factor for a dominant male leopard.

2012

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2013

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2014

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2015

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Camp Pan 4:3 Male (Xmobonyane, Princess Alice Pans Male)

2000 - 2015

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Unique Markings: Scar on right cheek.

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Triangle under right eye.

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Slit in Tongue.

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Massive stature.


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One of the true legends of the Leopards of Londolozi, the Camp Pan male was dominant over a significant portion of the property for a good six years, longer than the average tenure expected of a male leopard in a hotly contested environment like the Sabi Sands.

Born in 2000 to the Tavangumi female, he spent a great deal of time around Singita’s Camp Pan during his formative months, which is where he got his name.

In 2007 he began pushing east into Londolozi and established himself almost overnight, pushing out the dominant Sparta 5:5 male in the process.
His territory was enormous, stretching from the Manyelethi River in the north to beyond the Maxabene River in the South. With the arrival of the Marthly male in 2010, the Camp Pan male was forced to start ceding territory in the north while consolidating territory in the south, but he was slowly but surely forced further and further south and east, eventually getting ousted altogether by the Piva male pushing in from the opposite direction.

The Camp Pan male had an interesting relationship with one of his sons, the Tu-Tones male, with whom he almost shared territory, tolerating his presence and not forcing him out as most males would their sons. The two males would be seen on the same kills and even mating with the same female at the same time.

During his reign the Camp Pan male fathered a number of eminently viewable leopards, including the Tutlwa and Mashaba females, ensuring that his legacy lives on.

He was last seen in the Spring of 2015.

Territory
The Camp Pan male occupied territory in most of Sparta and Marthly during his initial phase of maturity. As he grew older, his territory was pushed progressively south and east into Dudley before he finally lost control of even this area under sustained pressure from the Piva male, becoming nomadic in late 2014.

2007

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2008

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2009

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2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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2014

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2015

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 02-26-2017, 02:33 AM by Ngala )

From Londolozi Game Reserve, 25 February 2017: Why the North is So Dangerous For Leopards by Amy Attenborough.
 
Sitting on the Varty Camp deck just a few mornings ago, with cups of coffee in hand, a few of us rangers looked over the Sand River to the northern bank and pondered how much things have changed in the last little while. In just two years, nine independent leopards have either been killed or died naturally on this northern section of Londolozi. This number is pretty startling. It begs the question, “why is this area proving to be so dangerous for leopards?”

And in some crazy way, could it possibly be a good thing for leopards going forward?

Before we get there though, let’s list the leopards that have disappeared from this area. These include the Ximpalapala female, Tutlwa female, Dudley Riverbank 5:5 male, Nanga Young Male, Nyelethi Female, Gowrie male, Tutlwa Young Male, Marthly Male and the Maliliwane female. Now onto how on earth this has happened…

The Tutlwa female leopard, photographed on a particular grassy crest we often used to find her. Since her interaction with the Tsalala Pride, her territory remains eerily quiet and we’ll always be left with more questions than answers as to what actually happened to this leopard.

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Firstly, one of the reasons is because of a high predator density in the area and the resultant competition. In some cases, a few of these leopards were killed by other leopards and some by lions. About six months ago, the Tutlwa female was seen fighting off the Tsalala Pride in a thick section of the Sand River. Although no one actually saw the lions grab her, she was seen leaping away from them into some debris and judging by the sounds coming from the thicket, a fight definitely occurred. Since this time her territory remains eerily quite. The Tsalala pride was also responsible for the death of the Nyelethi Female and Dudley Riverbank 5:5 male, the latter of which we reported on in this blog last year.

The Tsalala Pride crosses the Sand River. Having territory in both the south and north of Londolozi, these lions are responsible for either injuring or killing a number of leopards in their time.

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As is the case with how predators interact in a natural system, there is also intra-species conflict, meaning that leopards attempt to oust other leopards in order to acquire their territory. They may also kill young that are not their own, thereby ridding the area of genes that are not theirs, forcing the female back into estrous and siring their own young. This was the case for the Tutlwa Young Male who was killed by the Gowrie male. This rather gory encounter was captured by National Geographic photographer, Sergey Gorshkov, in an unusual scene where the older leopard actually consumed the younger leopard. Although this sort of competition is fairly typical, eating the carcass of the other leopard is not well documented.

The Gowrie male, easily recognisable by his very yellow orange eye colour. This was the leopard responsible for killing the Tutlwa young male.

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There were also a few freak accidents such as was the case with the Maliliwane female who we believe was bitten by a snake and deteriorated incredibly quickly. And other cases remain unsolved, such as the Gowrie male who was their one day and gone the next, never to be seen again.

Of course there are also situations where we believe the deaths to be natural and occurring from old age. These include the Marthly male and the Ximpalalpala female. Neither of their remains were found and so we cannot confirm our beliefs for sure but both were old leopards and were significantly weakened when they were last seen, meaning that they could easily have died naturally.

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My fear in telling this story was that it would be seen as morbid but in fact I think there’s another way we can look at it. It’s an honest portrayal of the natural flow of life and death in the bush and although we have been incredibly sad to see the demise of these various leopards and miss their presence here, what we now see is opportunities opening up for the current Leopards of Londolozi.


What it leaves them with now is a large area of superb leopard territory only really held by the Nanga female and the Anderson male.

And this is where we come to the aspects of possibility and opportunity.

In some ways the above circumstances could aid the Nanga female who lost previous litters to the Tutlwa female and the Marthly male. With one cub at the moment, she may now actually have greater success of raising this cub to independence because of the diminished competition.

One of the first sightings of the Nanga female’s cub at just a few weeks old.

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The Nanga female with her cub. She did give birth to two cubs in this litter and we’re hoping that with current conditions she can raise this one to independence.

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New and young leopards now also have space to extend into. These include the Mashaba young female who has been seen in the north on a few occasions as well as the Flat Rock male, a newcomer to these parts. And in fact, the Mashaba young female is a niece of the Tutlwa female whose territory she is extending into and is therefore in some way, continuing the success of this lineage. 

The Mashaba young female resting in the boughs of a Marula Tree. From here she was scanning over territory previously held by the Tutlwa female, which in all likelihood she will attempt to take over now.

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One of the hard truths we’re all familiar with is that the only thing constant in life is change and it seems the ongoing saga of Londolozi’s Leopards is proving this yet again. Despite the sadness of leopards passed, we can at least be left to ponder what huge possibility is opening up and how this may be allowing the next young generation of leopards to flourish.
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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( This post was last modified: 03-21-2017, 02:17 AM by Ngala )

The massive head and neck of the Emsagwen male (2003 - 2011 Aug. last seen), the father of the Anderson male. Like father, like son!

From Anderson male FB Page:
"Andersons father is thought to be the Emsagwen male. This photo is from Arathusa Safari Lodge by André Froneman 23 Aug 2011"

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"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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From Londolozi Game Reserve, 09 May 2017: Where is the Anderson Male Leopard? by James Tyrrell.

I haven’t seen the Anderson male in a long time. Far too long. Hardly anyone on Londolozi has, come to think of it.

The occasional set of tracks that head through the palm thickets of the Manyelethi River or a distant rasping call in the Mahlahla drainage; these and a few more like them have been the only suggestions of his passing, while actual sightings have been incredibly sporadic.
The Anderson male is certainly one of the biggest leopards ever to have trodden the game paths of Londolozi, and he’s certainly the biggest individual I’ve ever seen, but it has been a frustrating few months of trying to track him down.

Recent efforts by tracker Freddy Ngobeni narrowed his whereabouts down to a 100m section of drainage line in the eastern sector of north Londolozi, but the thick vegetation in the area prevented him and ranger Talley Smith from actually catching sight of the leopard. Frustratingly, within a few minutes of moving off with their guests to have a sunset drinks break, they heard him calling from the depths of the little stream bed they had suspected him to be hiding in, almost as if he was taunting them.

During the drier times of the drought, the Anderson male was a lot easier to track down. Long grass after the rains, thicker general vegetation and his erratic movements have all combined to make him more elusive than ever these days.

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Trying to establish exactly where he likes to move has given the Londolozi trackers headaches, as there seems to be no consistent pattern. The northern section of Londolozi (known as Marthly), has been dominated by single male leopards before (Gowrie Male, Marthly male), but without confirmed sightings of the Anderson male in the four corners of the area we were hesitant to conclude that he Anderson was doing the same. Then two days ago, things took a slightly unexpected turn on two fronts; the Flat Rock male was discovered in the central parts of Marthly, while the Anderson male was not too far away, seemingly closing in on the Flat Rock male’s scent, only just north of the Sand River. Both males were in areas they had previously not been seen in, which made us reevaluate exactly what is happening in the male population.

The purple area shows where the majority of Anderson male sightings have occurred, with the red being the Flat Rock male’s apparent territory. The purple dot is where the Anderson male was found in the incident related here, and the red dot was the initial position of the Flat Rock male, far from his usual patrol areas..

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The way I see it is this: The Anderson male has been roaming over a far wider area than we previously believed, but owing to a lack of sightings, we have been unable to establish the exact extent of his territory.

The Flat Rock male was found outside of his normal territory on a kill, but very close to him was the Nhlanguleni female. They had joined up to mate it seems, and it was possibly her that the Flat Rock male had left his usual haunts to follow. The Anderson male, when found by ranger John Mahoud, was sniffing the breeze carefully only a few hundred metres away, moving rapidly in the direction of the pair. To throw a little extra in the mix, there was a dead hyena not far from where the leopards were, that had been killed that morning by the Tsalala young male lions, and it may have even been this scent that the Anderson male was moving in to investigate. It’s entirely possible that he was completely oblivious to the presence of the the Flat Rock Rock male.

Photographs can’t do justice to the size of this enormous male.

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With the larger Inyathini male being found further and further north on a more regular basis, it seems likely that the younger and smaller Flat Rock male is being squeezed between the trio of the Anderson, Piva and Inyathini males. What the outcome of this will be is anyone’s guess.

I for one see scant chance of the Flat Rock male usurping any of the Anderson male’s territory in the north. Despite the Anderson male’s still furtive nature, and despite us being unable to conclusively determine how far his territory extends, I think it likely that he has far more of a stranglehold over the area than we imagine.
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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