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  • Writer's pictureNHFU

First Lightning then Rain

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

“Legadima” is arguably one of Mombo’s most iconic leopards. Meaning lightning in Setswana, Legadima found fame as the star of the National Geographic documentary “Eye of the Leopard”, and her presence has graced guests visiting the Wilderness concession ever since.

When Legadima was young it was believed that she was scared of lightning, often hiding under safari and filming vehicles for shelter. Her name has since become synonymous with this stretch of the delta. Now over twelve years after Legadima hit the screens, the NHFU team has been enthralled by a new superstar of Mombo, and Legadima’s daughter; Pula.

Legadima's two surviving daughters are “Pula” meaning rain and “Maru”, meaning Cloud, adopting Setswana names apt for the offspring of lightning. Both having to scrap for survival in this unforgiving land and the leopards are as strong as the legacy Legadima left behind. But it is Pula, the tough one eared warrior, who has particularly won the love of guests, guides and our film crew.

The sisters have only successfully raised one cub each to maturity so far, and attacks from lions, hyenas, and even pythons have previously snuffed out the bloodline. This is the sad and often far too frequent tale of raising young as a leopard. (Wilderness Safari's guides only officially name cubs after they reach a year old, largely due to the uncertain future of these cubs as they grow up in a tough and unrelenting habitat.)

Marothodi rests on a large tree in the heart of Mombo.

"Marothodi" which means raindrop in Setswana, is Pula's first and so far only cub to survive long enough to be named. Marothodi is fast becoming household name in Mombo. In mid 2017 she finally left her mother, and began to revel in her independence.

Marothodi seeks shelter in the thick cover of a tree.

2017 was an exciting time in Mombo's leopard story, as Pula, now free of the responsibility of Marothodi, would add yet another litter to the family tree. Two tiny cubs were spotted by the NHFU team for the first time in August, just weeks old and defenceless, the team spotted the cubs being moved from den to den, in the now gentle grasp of their mothers mouth.

Unfortunately tragedy would strike again a few days later, this time in the shape of the male leopard "Blue Eyes", who had discovered their new den site. We all feared the worst, but by some miracle one cub managed to survive the encounter.

Pula carries her young cub from an old den site.

As we watch the sole cub slowly grow up, we can only hope that it will make it to adulthood, gracing Mombo with one more leopard in this place of plenty.

1 Comment

Susan Mckee
Susan Mckee
Sep 10, 2018

Beautiful photos and story William.

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