National Geographic : 2001 Oct
ART ICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIM WOLHUTER f the leopard, naturalist Maitland Edey wrote, "He is an animal of darkness, and even in the dark he travels alone." Yet over the course of 19 months one male leopard in South Africa's Mala Mala Game Reserve allowed me to become his companion. I named him Tjololo, a melding of words from the Swazi and Shangaan languages, which means "the one that stands alone." It can be a struggle to follow Panthera pardus in the bush, but years ago a veterinarian at neighboring Kruger National Park had implanted a tracking device in Tjololo to monitor his recovery after he was in jured by a warthog. As a former park ranger, I was granted exclusive use of the implant's frequency, allowing me to track Tjololo's progress and gain his trust. Eventually I could get close enough to hear the rasping of tongue against paw as he groomed himself (right) and the crash ing of a branch as he marked it with facial-gland scent (below). Later he let me kneel in his path, eye to camera, as he strutted into the spotlight.