Travel & conservation company, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
Africa Geographic Travel

On May 31, 1993, two 6-week-old leopard cubs were brought to the Londolozi Game Reserve, a private reserve bordering the Kruger National Park.

In charge of the cubs was Graham Cooke, a 22-year-old old game ranger who had been working at the reserve since 1988. The intention was to rehabilitate the cubs back into the wild once they were old enough to fend for themselves. And thus begins a poignant love story. A story that revolves around a unique relationship that transgressed the natural boundaries between a human and a cat that is considered to be one of Africa’s most accomplished killers.

my life with leopards book by Fransje van Riel graham scott

Armed with a .22 rifle, Graham’s responsibility was more than daunting. The camp that had been built was in the heart of lion, hyaena and other leopards’ territory. Befriending the young leopards wasn’t easy. The two cubs were understandably scared and hissed and spat as if their life depended on it.

With infinite patience, Graham eventually managed to gain their trust and slowly the cubs’ individual different characters emerged. The little male was relaxed and laid back, whereas his smaller sister revealed a far more stubborn and reserved streak.

Once the cubs were a year old their rehabilitation began in earnest. Graham moved the cubs to Zambia’s remote South Luangwa Valley National Park, where, from a camp on a small island surrounded by the Luangwa River, Graham had to prepare his charges for the final step of the way.

[slickr-flickr tag=”mylifewithleopards” captions=”on” descriptions=”on”]

My Life with Leopards is the incredible and unique story of a heart-rending bond between a person and two super predators. Moving, dramatic, powerful and at times infinitely funny, the story allows the reader a unique insight into an adventure of a lifetime and the breath-taking relationship Graham Cooke shared with the incredible big cats.

Attend the official book launch of My Life with Leopards by Fransje van Riel:

Date: Wednesday 26th September, 2012.
Time: 1800h for 1800h30
Venue: Kalk Bay Books, 142 Main Rd, Kalk Bay, Cape Town
RSVP: or 021 788 2266 by 21st September

To comment on this story please DOWNLOAD OUR APP. See details below.


  • Download our APP (mobile phone and desktop) to receive significant benefits including the best prices at Africa's top lodges, ready-made safari packages and networking with others like you. Find out more here.
  • Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to enjoy more stories like this. Subscribe here.
  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Search for your ideal safari here, or contact an Africa Geographic safari consultant to plan your dream vacation.

AG Logo

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of writers, editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

Africa Geographic Travel