127. Cat with Hedgehogs
Dog With Piglet
See link above. National Geographic website has a film clip of Legadema and the infant baboon.
Watch "Eye of the Leopard" on Sunday, April 8th. National Geographic Channel 5-7 pm EST.
How one leopard changed its spots ... and saved a baby baboon
By ZOE BRENNAN
She is the ultimate predator - a sleek and stealthy killer. Pouncing on
her prey, she silences the baboon with one swipe of a vicious paw. Then,
suddenly, something stirs in the dead animal's fur, and the law of the
jungle is rewritten.
From the bedraggled pelt of her kill crawls a tiny infant - a one-day-old
baboon. In that moment, this young leopard forgets she is a hunter, and
nurtures the baby baboon as if it were her own cub.
Smelling blood, a pack of hyenas gather to finish off the kill. Legadema,
as she has been named by the camera crew who took these moving shots,
carefully carries the baby baboon high up into a tree for protection.
There, she cuddles the newborn to her for warmth through the long, African
Safe: The leopard's hunter instincts are lost as she nurtures the cub
"It was as if nature had turned on its head completely," says Dereck
Joubert, a filmmaker who followed Legadema for three-and-a-half years in
her natural habitat, the Okavango Delta of Botswana - the verdant flood
plains known as Africa's Garden of Eden.
"She had killed the mother primate, but then found this live new-born on
the ground. The little baboon called out, and we thought we were going to
hear a major crunch and the leopard smacking its lips, but instead the
baby baboon put its paws out and walked towards the young leopard.
"Legadema paused for a moment, apparently not knowing what to do. Then she
gently picked it up in her mouth, holding it by the scruff of its neck and
carrying the infant up a tree to keep it safe."
Maternal instinct: After killing its mother, Legadema the hunting leopard helps
a day-old baboon to safety at the top of a tree
Baboons are arch enemies of the leopard, and one of their major food
sources, but Legadema - the local Setswana word for "light from the sky" -
was in the transitional stage between cub and predator, and it seems her
maternal instincts came to the fore.
The film crew kept watch through the night. "Several times, the baby
baboon fell out of the tree," says Joubert. "Each time, Legadema raced
down to pick her up before the hyenas descended, and carried her back up
"The baboon clearly thought of Legadema as a surrogate mother. For several
hours, they nestled in the tree."
He adds: "Legadema was like a cat looking after her own kitten, rather
than predator and prey. She was part inquisitive cub, part mother -and
forgot momentarily that she was a hunter. It was quite extraordinary and
very moving to watch."
Tumble: The cub falls and is rescued by Legadema
Tragically, when morning came, the camera team realised that the tiny
baboon was no longer showing signs of life. "We think it was simply too
small to survive the night without its natural mother and the sustenance
she could provide," says Joubert. "As the sun came up, Legadema realised
that the baby had died, and moved on."
Joubert observed this scene while filming a wildlife documentary, Eye Of
The Leopard, which follows Legadema from birth to adulthood. "We came
across a mother leopard and her eightdayold cub, Legadema, and followed
her as she grew up," he explains.
"We were filming the adult leopardess when this adorable little cub stuck
her head out of the log which was their den. It was possibly the first
time she had ventured into the outside world, and she stumbled around in
the sunlight, falling over as if she were drunk."
On finishing their project, the film crew left Legadema to follow her own
path in the wild - but they still check up on her occasionally.
Joubert adds: "We have just heard that she will soon have her own baby to
care for, just as she cared for that tiny day-old baboon." Eye Of The
Leopard premieres on National Geographic HD Channel on Sunday, December
17, at 8pm and launches the new channel Nat Geo Wild in March 2007
Night watch: It's a long, dark wait for Legadema as she tries in vain to keep
the orphaned cub alive Pictures: National Geographic