Naming cats. Part one

The Accipiter male

The Accipiter male

Text: Dave Landey | Photographs: Dave Landey and Adi Stander
There are no fences between MalaMala and the Kruger National Park, which we share our entire eastern boundary with. It has been this way for over 20 years now. Occasionally, we will see unidentified animals on the property – some fairly briefly before they return back to whence they came, while others will remain and claim the area as their own.

A fairly recent example of this would be the Matshapiri pride – arriving not even a year ago, and already so well established in the area. Lions are not the only additions we have seen on the property within the last year however, we have had a few new leopards too. Of the fair number of unknown individuals seen, there are two which have been seen repeatedly. To the extent where we feel it is warranted that these individuals are named, accordingly.

The Accipiter male

This young male was initially seen around the central parts of the Matshapiri river, namely Emsagwen waterhole. We estimate that he is about 5 years old, judging by his impressive size and condition of his coat/physical appearance – which is excellent. The Accipiter male, has been seen virtually every month since April, 2015. We are most certain that this individual has immigrated from the Kruger National park, as he was unaccustomed to vehicles initially – thus, he was usually viewed from some distance. Over the months, with much careful driving and respect of the leopard’s personal space – he has grown in confidence and is now very comfortable with vehicles.

 

A majority of our earliest encounters with the Accipiter male were of him moving; through thick bush, over dry river beds. Getting to know the lay of the land. Photograph by ranger Adi Stander.

A majority of our earliest encounters with the Accipiter male were of him moving; through thick bush, over dry river beds. Getting to know the lay of the land. Photograph by ranger Adi Stander.

 

Accipiter male ID #2 Posing briefly, in a magic guarri thicket, this eye level shot affords a good perspective to appreciate the Accipiter male’s heavy set frame. This image, coupled with the previous, are some of the first images taken of the Accipiter male. Photograph by ranger Adi Stander.

Posing briefly, in a magic guarri thicket, this eye level shot affords a good perspective to appreciate the Accipiter male’s heavy set frame. This image, coupled with the previous, are some of the first images taken of the Accipiter male. Photograph by ranger Adi Stander.

The Lookout female

Although, this female of about 6 years of age, is not new to us per se – she is being viewed fairly regularly of late. Initially  seen during the cooler months of 2013, this leopard was viewed on a few occasions, some of which included mating bouts with the Bicycle crossing male, close to the lower reaches of the Kapen River. It is possible (and probable) she has been seen since then, but never a view suitable enough to make a positive identification – that was until June, 2015. The Lookout female spent a fair amount of time along Flockfield lookout during middle of 2015, and over the months which followed, she was encountered from this area as far south as Dudley lookout.

Lookout female ID #1 Perched atop a granite rock, the Lookout female was scoping out her next move, possibly resting for a bit after making a fairly rapid escape from the banks of the Sand River, where she encountered a pack of cape hunting dogs. Photograph by ranger Dave Landey.

Lookout female ID #1
Perched atop a granite rock, the Lookout female was scoping out her next move, possibly resting for a bit after making a fairly rapid escape from the banks of the Sand River, where she encountered a pack of cape hunting dogs. Photograph by ranger Dave Landey.

 

Lookout female #2 Spending a lazy afternoon, draped over the branches of a leadwood tree - the Lookout female awoke from her slumber during the last remaining light of the day. She is obviously very comfortable in this territory as she roared before descending the tree and continuing with her nocturnal adventures. Photograph by ranger Dave Landey.

Lookout female #2
Spending a lazy afternoon, draped over the branches of a leadwood tree – the Lookout female awoke from her slumber during the last remaining light of the day. She is obviously very comfortable in this territory as she roared before descending the tree and continuing with her nocturnal adventures. Photograph by ranger Dave Landey.

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