I had a radio call last night after I closed down from PM drive to say Karula was heading towards Impala Plains. She was alone and had left the cubs around 800m West of triple M, which is our Western boundary. I was hoping she would have been successful in hunting in the area, because her last kill was stolen by hyenas. If she was able to catch something, she may have brought the cubs to it. Being 4 months old now they will be eating meat, having been weaned by roughly 3 months old.
It is difficult to say what is happening with her, even though she is spending time over in Simbambili it could be that has always been part of her territory and we have just not known it. There have been times Karula would disappear for a while and suddenly pop up around Western Gowrie again. I wonder if we are truly starting to get an insight into how large her territory is because we are following her movements more closely than before.
I was also told she had a fight with her daughter, Tingana/Shadow, a couple of days ago, which has forced her daughter to head further West. This is not the first time she has been aggressive towards her either. Here is a link to a clip posted on http://wildearth.ning.com/ of Karula fighting with Tingana, maybe telling her to stay out of her territory (warning it is quite intense, showing a different side to the usually calm lady we know so well ). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RK2gw3Y62E&feature=player_embedded.
A study on the leopards of Sabi sands showed female leopards may have an average of 2000ha territory. We traverse 1000ha. If she has an average sized territory, she has another 1000ha to play with. We know she heads South onto Little Gowrie, (opposite Zoe's road) West into Arathusa and Simbambili (West of triple MMM) and North in to Buffleshoek (North of Buffleshoek boundary), but we don't know how far her boundary reaches in those areas. I am pretty sure Cheetah cutline is the Eastern edge of her territory.
Map of our traversing area.
There could be a number of explanations why she is spending time in the West. It could be the hunting opportunities are better over there at the moment, maybe the presence of the boys, especially Induna, has put pressure on the game here, so she has stayed that side for now. It could be the hyena activity here is more than there. It will be interesting to see if she does move the cubs elsewhere after her run in with the hyenas a couple of nights ago! It could be nothing to do with these possibilities, there might be something I haven't even thought of! I am sure she will be back on Western Gowrie in Djuma at some stage as I am sure it is still a huge chunk of her territory, but for now we shall have to see how this chapter plays out!
Written by Tara,
With thanks to Karen and Collen for posting the clip and map to the wildearth.ning website.