When is a Female Leopard Too Old to Mate?

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Her mother was known as 3:4; said by many to be the most photographed leopard of all time and the individual which took the leopard/human relationship to the next level. She died just short of her 17th birthday, leaving behind a magnificent legacy igniting the phrase “the Leopards of Londolozi”.

One of her daughters that is still seen in the area is the Nottens Female…

Born in October 1995 the Nottens Female is on the verge of turning 16 years old. Seeing this female really does give you a feeling of being in the presence of greatness; made all the more special by the fact that her mother was the famous 3:4.

She continues to patrol and is often seen in the old haunts of her late mother. As far as I am aware she is the oldest leopard in the Sabi-Sands!

Rangers and trackers search game paths hoping to see the tell-tale track of Nottens; finding her is like hitting the jackpot.

The question is…at her old age will we see her have one last litter before her days are up?


The Nottens Female and the Short Tail Male – Adam Bannister

She was recently seen with the dominant territorial male known as Shorty. He was anything but excited when she presented herself to him, trying to convince him to mount her. In fact he showed quite a lot of aggression towards her almost as if he was not interested in mating with her. It was fascinating to watch as she repeatedly tried to force him onto herself. Why was he not keen? For male Leopard’s the continuation of the bloodline is paramount so what would make a male leopard turn down the chance to do so?

Is it that she may be too old? Is she possibly infertile? Or maybe we just saw this mating session in the early hours of the courtship? I do not have the answers but it makes one think…out in the wild, and away from the zoos, do leopards get to the point where their age catches up with them and they stop reproducing? Do they reach a point where in their old age, for the first time in their lives, they can live their life for themselves and not in trying to ensure their progeny are safe and well fed? Was she attempting to mate in a real attempt to fall pregnant or is she merely doing so to keep the Short-Tail Male happy and content? Or does she know any other way?

Don’t you love it how nature is filled with so many questions?

Below you will see pictures of Shorty and Nottens on three occasions…2009,2010 and 2011!


On this occasion back in September 2009 Shorty mated with Nottens – Adam Bannister


One year later in August 2010 and Shorty was still happy to mount Nottens – Adam Bannister


Another year down the line however and Notten’s countless attempts to get Shorty to mate with her were met with lots of snarling and aggression – Adam Bannister

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister. Filmed by Rex Miller

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