It is always exciting to watch a young male leopard mature and become territorial and resident. Most of Londolozi’s young male leopards leave us around the age of 3 and disperse into neighbouring properties and probably beyond. We often follow their progress by reading other lodges blogs and similarly male leopards that arrive here are more often than not from somewhere else. So when a youngster that we’ve watched from birth finds a gap in his natal area – well it’s exciting to say the least! It is even more riveting when that young leopard is the Dudley River Bank 5:5 Young Male and a direct descendant of ‘The Mother Leopard’. That makes him part of the Londolozi ‘Royal Family’ which we’ve had the privilege of watching for more than 3 decades. The twists and turns of this families fortunes are intriguing and fantastically just a microcosm of what probably occurs with the secretive leopard everywhere.
Having expressed my joy at watching this Dudley River Bank 5:5 Young Male come into his own, it is sad however to report that it is becoming apparent that the object of this young male’s attention is the territorial fiefdom of one of Londolozi’s perennial favourite leopards: The Camp Pan 4:3 Male. The pressure is now on the ageing Camp Pan Male as this young upstart has been seen marking and calling furiously and regularly within the bounds of what has always been considered Camp Pan’s. We have also witnessed several rare interactions between the 2 leopards.
The first spat took place around the beginning of April (Ingwe junction/Munghen road), and when the two of them were found it was clear that they had physically come to blows. Both combatants looked exhausted and the more experienced Camp Pan was sporting a bloodied nose. They finished off their encounter with a bout of deep growling and eventually went their separate and resolute ways.
Since then, Camp Pan has been seen rarely. It had been suggested from various quarters within the Team that he had lost the turf war and had gone ‘fugitive’ and nomadic, but then just as everybody seemed to write him off as a spent force he was found by Alfie and Bennet on an impala kill around Tortoise pan.
The Dudley Riverbank Male in direct comparison has been seen frequently and in a two week period was viewed feeding on warthog, hoisting a baby zebra nto a Marula Tree, chasing the much younger Maxabeni 3:3 Male, being trailed by the Vomba 3:3 Young Female as well as marking and calling all the way along the Sand River.
A few days ago the two were found circling each other in a territorial dispute which eventually resulted in a massive fight. Close by was the Vomba 3:2 Female and the Marthly 3:2 Male, both onlookers of the battle. Take a look at this astonishing footage captured below:
Despite winning the fight, the Camp Pan male left alone. Bloody and scarred, the Dudley 5:5 Male limped off behind the Vomba 3:2 Female and mated with her later that day. Even though he lost the battle, he still somehow managed to get the spoils.
I am sure this is not the end of it and for now observations seem to indicate that the Camp Pan 4:3 Male has the ascendancy. But where does Camp Pan go from here? Does he stand and fight or will he be allowed to peacefully hold onto a sliver of what was once a mighty territory. Like everything else in the bush, the outcome is uncertain and we’ll just have to wait and see. The smart money is on the younger of the two warriors and the end of the chapter of the remarkable Camp Pan Male.