In April 2004 we traveled to South Africa on a spiritual pilgrimage. The trip was full of adventure, with us seeing and having a lot of once in a lifetime experiences.
There were a dozen or so other people from around the world with us. After a couple of weeks of that trip, our dear friend Mary Ann Gurno, Madeline and I broke away and extended our trip traveling to Victoria Falls and then on to Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
It was the most fantastic thing I’ve ever done in my life. We lived among every wild creature imaginable for those few days, while staying in the most luxurious of accommodations.
This link provide to show what the place is like:
While there was amazing adventure literally at every turn there was one evening we had our very special experience that I’ll remember forever.
Our guide spotted a small leopard cub in a tree. As we set watching it a few minutes a large female leopard appeared. She didn’t just appear, she was right beside our vehicle. She walk around it a couple of times eyeing us. We stayed still barely daring to breathe.
After awhile she headed for the tree where the cub was. She wasn’t the cubs mother. She was a rival. She was trying to attack the cub. The cub knowing this, continued to climb higher and higher in the tree. The limbs would hold her weight but wouldn’t support the weight of the larger female.
Our guide had been in radio contact with other people in the park. Rules for watching game doesn’t allow for multiple units to be in areas at one time, to help preserve the continuity between man and beast, so we moved out.
The guide explained that he had called the Jouberts, Derreck and Beverly to come. They were there doing documentary films of wildlife in the Okavango Delta and the cub, Legadema was the centerpiece of one of their films.
They had followed Legadema’s life since birth. Below is a link to the film that was released a few years later. It is a very special story made even more special by our close encounter.
There are many YouTube clips that you can find by searching for Legadema. Some are short and others are very long.
The Joubert’s have lead an exciting life. Not sure I’d want to live out in the wilds of Africa for years, but the stories I’ve read about them, it is the life they choose.
We enjoyed as our personal guide while at Mombo Camp, the foremost wildlife guide in the world. His name was Richard Daughtery.
Through the miracle of the internet, I have been able to follow Richard as he went on from the Okavango Delta to now where he operates his own safari company, Bhangazi – Horseback Safari Company. It is in the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park in Zululand, South Africa.
I often think about this trip to Africa and of Legadema as if it wasn’t that long ago.
What I didn’t realize until finding this article, that it’s been nearly a lifetime ago for a leopard.
The normal life of a leopard is 12-17 years, not so different from a house cat.