The turn of the tide

Sabi Sand · December 2018
By Ross Couper
Field Guide, Content Provider

Living ‘bush’ allows us to watch the ebb and flow of nature taking her natural course with the circle of life. It is such a privilege to experience the unique feeling that we are a small part of an animal’s life. Over the last seven years working at Singita, I have watched leopards come and go in various Singita regions, true to the peak and trough of leopard populations in the wild.

There is always one particular population of leopards that is extremely close to my heart, as I literally live with them. Often, I have woken up in the early hours of the morning listening a rasping roar, wondering who it is and in which direction they are going. Leopards have added significantly to my guiding experience, and I now understand them better than ever before, and this is all because of the frequent interactions that we are fortunate to have with the well-habituated leopards in the area.

As we watch them in wild, due to being able to see them frequently, we see how young male leopards soon become independent and instinctively move away from their natal territory that are maintained by their mothers. Conversely we see mother leopards often relinquish territory to their female offspring. We watch the males fend for themselves and occasionally we are lucky enough to have them establish a territory in close vicinity to Singita.

A leopard that is considered a highlight by the guides at Singita, is the Ravenscourt male. Unfortunately, he spends a greater part of his time west of Singita, but occasionally crosses the boundary and we encounter an old friend that holds a legendary story of survival.

The image on the right was one of the last recorded sightings of the N’weti young male just before he decided to move south in the Sabi Sand Reserve. The guides keep a record of identities with each of the leopards we encounter. We work closely with Panthera to attain the data required in order to create an historical analysis of movement of the leopards throughout a year, but more importantly through several years. This data adds great value to facilitate a conservation purpose and management strategies.

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