As rangers we are all passionate about animals and most of us have pets at our homes away from the reserve. However, there is an understanding that one must undertake when becoming a ranger; while we spend hours every day admiring and watching the animals around us, we will never get to touch them or form any sort of affectionate physical bond.
West Street has a new guardian. It is no secret that MalaMala has some of the best river frontage of any reserve in the country, with around 24km of prime game viewing habitat on the banks of the Sand River. The vast majority of our reserve sits east of the river while all three of our camps are on the western bank. It is therefore inevitable that we need several crossings to gain access into the east.
Out of all the animals in the animal kingdom, there are very few that fascinate me as much as the leopard. Their secretive nature, elusive behaviour and tremendous adaptability has resulted in many gaps in scientific literature. They have the uncanny ability to continually surprise the observer.
Over the many years since our inception, Mala Mala Game Reserve has been the focal point of several documentaries and research studies. Indeed there are currently two studies being carried out on the reserve, one of which is being done by Panthera, a charitable organization devoted to preserving big cats and their ecosystems around the globe. In this article, we'll touch on their motivation for this study which focuses on leopards.
In April of 2016 the late Kikilezi female leopard gave birth in the Mlowathi River to two cubs, a male and a female, fathered by the Treehouse male.
With the Manyeleti River flowing again for the first time in two years, a pool of water had accumulated around a large set of granite rocks. At that point, the southern bank of the river is adorned with large trees within lush thickets while the northern bank is a steep and rocky cliff face on top of which grows a stand of euphorbias.
On Friday, a stone throw away from Sable Camp, we experienced all the pre-fight drama one might expect before a world title clash between two heavyweight boxers. The contestants: the Inyathini male and the Senegal Bush male.
It is human nature to find fresh cause for optimism and to keep on believing despite the odds. A year of tragic losses within our leopard population left us reeling and desperately searching for that eternal spring called ‘hope’. While we were doing that, the leopards were getting on with life.
The textbooks tell us that to truly appreciate nature, it must be looked at void of any human emotion, especially when doing so through the eyes of conservation. However, six years with the Airstrip male taught me more about leopard behaviour than any textbook possibly could.