Male leopards of Singita

Sabi Sand | November 2019

When one gets to spend as much time with individual leopards as often as we get to, a keen interest develops in each individuals “story”. This is without attaching any human emotion to the animals but more rather knowing where individuals have dispersed to or where individuals have come from. While the female leopard population of Singita has remained stable, it is on the male leopard side where we have seen some significant changes over the last year. Below is a small snapshot of some of the males we get to view here (images in order of list below):

Nyeleti male

Having arrived onto Singita Sabi Sand back in 2012, the Nyeleti male is still going strong even at 10 years of age. He holds a large territory to the west and north of the lodges concentrating a lot of his movements around the sand River where he’s benefitting from the plentiful impala, bushbuck and nyala that inhabit the riparian areas. Having already successfully sired a number of cubs who have reached independence, the Nyeleti male has recently been very busy mating with both the Hukumuri and Schotia females ensuring that his genes continue to pass on.

Flat Rock male

Dominant to the east of Singita this male is still relatively young and is continuing to expand his territory. He is seen on the eastern portions of Singita and has recently been seen pushing further west along the Sand River, almost encroaching on what is known to be the Nyeleti male’s territory. He is also often seen north of the river in what was known to be the Anderson male’s area and it is probably safe to assume that he has successfully taken over from him in this area.

Anderson male

Sightings of this impressive male have become few and far between and he hasn’t been seen here for the last few months. Once dominant over the whole north eastern part of the property stretching from the far north all way south to the Sand River, it appears he has started to lose ground to the younger individuals moving in.

Thamba male

The Thamba male arrived here a year ago. Like any newly independent young male, he moved across the property, avoiding the already larger dominant males. He eventually found himself a small patch of vacant land wedged between the Flat Rock and the Torchwood males’ territories where he kept a low profile for a few months. He then came into a bit of luck with the unfortunate sudden disappearance of the Torchwood male, leaving the central and southern parts of our property up for grabs, which he almost instantaneously snatched up. I say a bit of luck as the Thamba male may well have been the cause of the Torchwood male’s disappearance but that is something we will never really know. At only three-and-half years of age he’s already established himself as one of our dominant males, scent marking, calling and even attracting the attention of the elusive Mobeni female with whom he has already mated with on a number of occasions.

Hosana male

This male, just like the Thamba male, first made an appearance here about a year ago. He didn’t stay for very long before heading back to his natal area. He, however, recently appeared back on the property to the north of the Sand River. We’ve been enjoying regular sightings of him over the last few weeks all over northern Singita, and he has been seen both scent marking and vocalizing. The north has been, to some extent, a bit of a mystery in terms of the male leopard dynamics in recent times with sightings being only short fleeting glimpses of males disappearing into the bush. We’re hoping that the Hosana male decides to settle in the north as there is definitely space for him to occupy.

Tavangumi male

The recently named son of the Schotia female, the Tavangumi male seems to be on his own for good now. Approaching two years of age, this young male still has a long road ahead of him. He is often found in the immediate vicinity of both Singita Ebony and Boulders lodges, taking full advantage of the many nyala and bushbuck that move in and around the camp grounds. He will eventually have to move off in order to find territory of his own but for now he’s providing excellent viewing and should continue to do so for a while still.

Misava male

Having been cast into independence at a young age due to the death of his mother, the Misava male has had a rather difficult start to adulthood. Having to rely on scavenging and killing smaller animals this leopard is rather small for his age and at times has been mistaken for a female leopard. Without regular large meals during his critical growth period (which his mother would’ve provided) he hasn’t been able to bulk up as much as he could have. But with that being said, he is still in good condition and has been found on adult impala and nyala kills recently which bodes well for his future. Still being somewhat nomadic he’s frequently seen in the Sand River in the heart of his father’s territory (the Nyeleti male) to the west of the lodges.

Dewane male

Residing predominately to the west of Singita, this male has lost territory to younger, stronger individuals and has been forced into living a nomadic lifestyle. He is still a large and impressive male but I think age prevents him from competing with and deterring other males. He is seen from time to time all along the western parts of Singita Sabi Sand but is mostly found in the south western portions where no other males occupy this area.

Unknown male leopards

There are only two individuals that I’ll touch on as there are a number of other unknown individuals that make appearances here, but there are two that have actually set up territory on the property. The first is an orange eyed male that holds territory in the central areas of the north. He is an unrelaxed skittish individual who does allow for viewing at times, but only at a distance. He’s been in the area for well over a year but may just come under pressure from the Hosana male. He was recently found with fresh battle scars in the exact area that the Hosana male was seen in the afternoon before.

The second male is another very skittish large male who has taken over the far south eastern parts of Singita, again an area that was once under the Torchwood male’s control. This male does not allow for viewing and very quickly disappears when discovered. While we get to enjoy amazing sightings of most of the leopards on the property this individual may just be one that remains somewhat of an enigmatic animal.