Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Africa Geographic Travel

The South Luangwa Valley, famed for having the highest concentration of hippos in Africa as well as excellent opportunities for observing lion, leopard, elephant and other big game, was the scene of a very special project twenty years ago. In April 1994, two much loved, young adult leopards were released in this area by ranger Graham Cooke.


Graham had hand-raised the two six-week-old leopard cubs, Boycat and Poepface, for a year before the time came for their return to the wild.

A small and very secluded tented camp was pitched on a remote island in the Luangwa River for the last stages of the rehabilitation of the leopards. From the camp, Boycat and Poepface tentatively ventured into the wilderness of their new home.


Joining the cubs on daily walks to help acquaint Boycat and Poepface with their new environment, Graham had to brave some of the Luangwa’s most dangerous animals during this time, experiencing a close encounter with a crocodile as well as being charged by an angry bull buffalo.


After about a month, Boycat and Poepface decided that the time had come to relinquish the safety that the small camp provided and crossed the river into the national park to start their life in the wild.

For Graham, it was time to let go….

leopards leopard-safari

My Life with Leopards, Graham Cooke’s story as written by Fransje van Riel, was published to wide acclaim by Penguin Books in September 2012 and was reprinted in three editions. The book is currently planned for re-publication in the UK by Thistle Publishing.


You can now join the author, Fransje Van Riel, and safari guide Graham Cooke for a unique African safari as they walk in the footsteps of Boycat and Poepface in the pristine South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. This exclusive six-night safari will run in June 2016 in the heart of the South Luangwa Valley will accommodate a maximum of six guests and will include time in the southern side of the park, in close vicinity of the island where the leopards spent their time.


Guests will also explore the South Luangwa Valley further upstream, enjoying a combination of walking safaris and game drives in comfortable open 4×4 vehicles. Collaborating with Kafunta Safaris, the camps are carefully chosen to guarantee a highly personal service and to ensure an unforgettable wildlife experience. Email now to book your spot.

Kafunta Safaris

Kafunta Safaris is a safari operator in South Luangwa, Zambia, offering exceptional services at their three camps. A combined stay at Kafunta River Lodge and Island Bush Camp offers an intimate and authentic safari experience to accompany the renowned wilderness and spectacular wildlife of South Luangwa National Park.