Friday, 3 December 2010

Machaton Male Leopard

Name: Machaton Male (named after the Machaton Riverbed in the area as it was along this riverbed where he was most regularly seen when he arrived in the area).

Born: Unknown, probably 2004-2005

Territory: There is still a bit of uncertainty with regard to which young males have moved into the area left unoccupied after Mangadjane’s demise. The Machaton male pitched up about a year before Mangadjane was killed, and was seen around the Machaton river on Java and Vielmetter. He then disappeared for some time, but is back now and being seen on Java, Jaydee, southern Peru and Mbali. A male leopard is seen around Lily Pan (south-western Peru) quite regularly, and I have this male there, but whether all sightings of male leopards in that area are of him or rather another large male that we occasionally see in the west is not clear. The semi-relaxed male leopard that is also often reported on Vielmetter is also very likely to be this male.

(click on map for larger view)

Females: As Machaton male’s exact territory is not known, it is a bit difficult to determine which females fall in his area. Mbali has been known to spend time around that area and has been seen mating with an unidentified male leopard at Lily Pan, which could or could not be this boy. Nthombi female would move into his territory occasionally, as would Rockfig Jnr. Java Dam female is the female that probably has the largest overlap with this male.

Cubs: Unknown

Mother: Unknown

Father: Unknown

Siblings: Unknown. Some suspect that this male could be Nthombi’s brother, but this is unlikely as he seems a bit too old.

Neighbours: As the central portion of the reserve has a number of skittish leopards, it is difficult to determine who is who without our own sightings and photos. There appear to be possibly three male leopards that use the central and southern regions, and these males would be neighbours, but who is who based on the tracks we see is very difficult to determine. There is a very large male that is seen from time to time on the western boundary of Peru and Jaydee, and possibly another young male to the south. In the north/north-west, the Peru male would be a neighbour. Argyle male is too far north to be considered a neighbouring male.

28th June 2008 - Stealing Mangadjane's kill with the 8 Sohebele lions underneath the tree!
Story: As with many of the less relaxed leopards, not as much is known about this leopard as some of the others, such as where he even came from? Although the guides would bump into him from time to time and have fair sightings of him at night, he provided most of the guides with a very memorable sighting in 2008 along with several other prominent characters of the northern Timbavati; it is still one of the best sightings I ever had. The day started off with a guide finding Mangadjane male leopard high up in a tree with a kill, and upon driving closer and arriving at the sighting, discovered nine Sohebele lions underneath the tree trying to get to the kill! Godfrey was driving to towards the sighting when a female leopard walked across the airstrip, so he followed her, while following her (Rockfig Jnr) he found another leopard, a young male that moved off after a while, yet ended up hanging around the area for most of the morning and afternoon. When we went into the sighting in the evening, the nine lions were still underneath the tree, Rockfig female leopard was walking around 50m away, Mangadjane male leopard hadn’t been able to leave the tree all day, but mysteriously, there was now another leopard in the tree! Somehow this young Machaton male had managed to get up into the tree even with all the lions and a much larger male leopard in residence; yet this hadn’t stopped him from returning to what was presumably his kill to begin with and he sat there feeding on the kill hissing at Mangadjane, who had clearly had enough of this for the day and tried to stay comfortable as he waited for a chance to get out of the tree!

During 2009 this leopard was reasonably quiet and seldom seen, but in 2010 he started being seen again, on Java, Jaydee and Peru. I found him one evening at Lily Pan on western Peru, and upon discovering this wondered whether all sightings of a male leopard in that area over the preceding few months had indeed been this Machaton male? He has grown into a beautiful and large male, but is yet to develop a large dewlap, such as Argyle male, but in the next couple of years, this is bound to happen and he has the potential to be a large dominant male in the central regions for years to come.

Interesting News: January 11th - Machaton male found walking down Western Cutline towards Big Nigresens; he was semi-relaxed.

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