Text: Dave Landey | Photograph: Brendan Cole
The Newington male, born in October 2008, son of a female known as the Western female and the much adored and respected Princess Alice Pans male, has died presumably in the latter half of April 2015.
This male, who was slowly but surely becoming a very regular visitor to the northern parts of his father’s territory – which since early February, has basically become available due to the increasing absence of the once, ever present – Princess Alice Pans male leopard. At six and a half years of age, the Newington male was not of the same placid nature of his father. He, on the other hand was not one to turn down the opportunity to fight. In fact, one sometimes had the general impression that the Newington male actively sought them out.
Attributed to his aggressive behaviour, the Newington male has been seen on a number of occasions with varying degrees of injury, ranging from a few scratches on his face to large sections of flesh missing from his flanks as in April 2014. The first trimester of 2015 was no different and during almost all of the sightings of this leopard, he either had new wounds, or was tending to those from pre-existing encounters.
Towards the end of January the Newington male was seen with wounds which looked to be fatal, following which he was not seen for almost two months. There was much relief upon his return almost midway into March, where he had appeared to be close to a full recovery. A week after his return he was watched capturing a male baboon and upon closer inspection, the Newington male was found to have sustained yet another serious bout of injuries. The newest set of lacerations on both sides of his body stirred up concern for his wellbeing, which was compounded by fact that this male leopard was not seen for a further week in March.
An almost audible sigh was heard when the Newington male was spotted six days later – this time making an unidentified kill in very close proximity to MalaMala Main Camp. After which he made for the river and was seen sunning himself on a beach in the Sand River, while everyone was enjoying their breakfasts.
During April, the Newington male was seen twice; once on the second day of the month and again two weeks later. During both of these sightings, it was obvious he was still recovering from the injuries sustained in mid-March, or was he? This male looked progressively worse during the month, to the extent where he was almost oblivious at the passing by of the Kikilezi female and Airstrip male leopards, who themselves appeared to take no notice of the almost lifeless form lying on a sand bank in the river.
On the 23rd day of April, 2015 – a carcass of a male leopard was found. The leopard had lain down beneath a magic guarri (Euclea divinorum) and drifted into an unconscious state. It is here that he lay, undisturbed by scavengers until he was discovered an estimated 5 – 6 days post mortem. It was determined to be that of the Newington male, based on the fragile state of this leopard during April, and the old injuries which could be seen from what remained of the carcass.
Farewell, Newington male.