This amazing interaction between a leopard and a baboon proves that nature is full of surprises — and none greater than when a ferocious female hunter adopts the baby of her kill.
The iconic predator aptly named Legadema was first discovered at eight days of age by a film crew creating footage for the National Geographic documentary, Eye of the Leopard. Their focus had initially centered on the regal leopardess, but when the adorable young cub first poked her head out into the beckoning world, filmmaker Dereck Joubert embarked on a remarkable journey, following Legadema through her childhood and early adolescence.
Legadema and her relatives inhabit the lush delta plains of Botswana’s “Garden of Eden”, where the Okavango River spills out across a shifted lowland area, making for an ideal wildlife habitat. The innate beauty of the Okavango Delta has earned its label as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa — but in addition to its magnificence, the location boasts its own endemic animal mysteries.
African leopards (Panthera pardus pardus) are nocturnal hunters that primarily feed on small primates and other mammals across the range of their native habitats. Baboons are a staple item of their diet and the adolescent Legadema’s appropriately selected first kill.
In the unbelievable footage captured by the film crew, the thrilled leopard drags her dead baboon prey to a safe location for feeding. However, when an infant crawls out from beneath the body, her demeanor changes entirely.
Legadema begins to nurture the young baboon, cleaning her newborn skin and embracing her body with her paws. When hyenas approach to investigate the cat’s fresh kill, the young leopard forgets her prey and gently carries the baby baboon to safety, where she continues to care for her throughout the night.
“Several times, the baby baboon fell out of the tree,” reported filmmaker Joubert to the Daily Mail. “Each time, Legadema raced down to pick her up before the hyenas descended, and carried her back up to safety.”
The baby baboon could not survive without proper sustenance from its own mother, but the amazing interaction serves as a touching reminder of how surprising and incredible nature can truly be.