Received this from Wildcast today:
This morning Tjololo was found on Mala Mala in a really bad way.
His was very lean, his coat looking terrible and had many porcupine quills stuck in his body. A vet was called in and Tjololo was darted. He had quills in his throat his chest and even his paws. Some quills about 5 inches deep in his body. The vet removed these all and cleaned him up, but Tjololo never came round again after antidote was administered.
This was probably the best way for him to go, as he would probably just have continued to suffer in ill health.
I first saw Tjololo in 1999 as a young 4 year old leopard setting up his territory on Mala Mala Game Reserve. It was then I made a film about him, “Stalking Leopards” for National Geographic. I spent 18 months in the field with him following his every movement every day. He became a close friend as this image alone speaks to.
Tjololo had just killed this kudu cow and was dragging it off. I got out the vehicle and lay on the ground to take photos. He could drag the carcass anywhere, but wanted to go where I was lying, and so did just that. He dragged the kudu within touching distance of me and didn’t so much as give me a glance. What a trusting dude.
He was small male leopard but feisty. As time went by Tjololo began to take control of a larger territory encompassing nearly the whole of Mala Mala. On several occasions he came across much bigger males who we thought were REAL dudes and in just about every confrontation the little man came out the victor. And then in time he started trespassing outside Mala Mala still increasing his domain. He RULED!
But in the last 6 months his condition has been seen to deteriorate as he’s been getting on and would now be 12 years old. Not a bad innings for a male leopard.
I left Mala Mala in 2005 in which time I’d made another 2 films, “Predators at War” and “Hyena Queen”, both of which featured Tjololo in numerous sequences.
He also did me really proud when he was the feature of my cover story in the National Geographic Magazine 2001.
He was a very special leopard and I’m just so grateful to have shared so much time with him.