Legadema, the female leopard made world-famous by Dereck and Beverley Joubert in their documentary film, “Eye of the Leopard”, has turned up on the Mombo Camp walkway!
[slickr-flickr tag = “legadima”]
The camp itself is situated in the centre of her territory, so every once in a while we have the experience of seeing her near the camp… but this was something else!
Just as guests had returned from their afternoon game drives, she chose to walk right past me as I escorted someone to their room. Asking my guest to remain inside, I followed Legadema with my torch as she moved along the walkway towards the bar area, where some people were having their sundowners.
I whistled to attract the attention of guide Thuto Moutloatse, who walked towards me from the fire, bringing the cameras I had left there with him. We spent the next couple of minutes watching her as she moved back and forth along the walkways, firing off what pictures we could in the light of our torches. At one stage the leopard walked directly at Thuto, disdainfully ignoring his presence, before quietly slipping off the walkway and disappearing into the undergrowth.
This kind of close encounter with a leopard is highly unusual – every other leopard I have encountered on foot has made every effort to avoid confrontation with humans. Legadema, due to the fact that she has been accustomed to vehicles and people since she was just eight days old, is a case where she has no fear of either. This is obviously a potentially dangerous situation which we take pains to avoid, however, it is an incredible feeling to be so close to a wild animal like her.