Months ago we received news from an ex-MalaMala ranger informing us that the Campbell Koppies female leopard had died. These reports can often be premature assumptions, and it was important to confirm that this news was accurate before releasing a statement. Although the Campbell Koppies female has not been viewed regularly on MalaMala Game Reserve for some time now, we owe her a few words in celebration of her life, observed and documented by guests and rangers for a period of thirteen years and nine months.
In September 1999 her mother, the Ngoboswan female (a mistress of the Rock Drift male, also known as Tjololo the movie star) gave birth to a litter of three – one of which was the Campbell Koppies female. Her brother lived for less than five months, and was killed by the floods in early 2000. Her sister moved off MalaMala shortly after early stages of independence in 2001. During this time, archived game reports state that the Campbell Koppies female spent months and months hunting on the banks of the Sand River between MalaMala and the old Harry’s Camp. She would attempt to catch duiker, young impala, bushbuck, water monitors and terrestrial birds. Occasionally she would return to her mother in the hope of being offered a meal, but when the Ngoboswan female gave birth to a new litter of three cubs in October 2001, their meetings became more and more hostile. It was now time to prove her independence.
The Campbell Koppies female was awarded her historical name in January 2003, a clear sign that she was now an independent, semi-territorial female. Campbell Koppies are the rocky outcrops located several hundred meters east of the MalaMala Main Camp, named originally after a previous farm owner, William Andrew Campbell. She was awarded this title as she began to set up a territory in this area.
A closer look into her relatives and other leopards of similar descent shows that the Kikilezi female and the Tamboti female are her younger sisters by two and eight years respectively. Another two of her siblings include the son of the Ngoboswan female 2005 and a female born in 2007, neither of which have featured as territorial leopards on MalaMala.
It appears that the Campbell Koppies female’s first successful litter produced the Ostrich Koppies female (which we assume was fathered by the Old Newington male leopard in 2004). Three years later she gave birth to another litter, and successfully raised the Mlowathi female to independence. Her legacy on MalaMala now lies in the ‘paws’ of the Ostrich Koppies female and Mlowathi female.
Her presence will be sorely missed by all who had the opportunity of witnessing her magnificence.
By ranger Matt Nolden