Its Monday and the new Leopard Legacy film

Well, hello there! I do hope you have had a fabulous weekend and are sitting comfortably ready for this week’s news, courtesy of Will and Lianne Steenkamp.  Will and Lianne have been working in partnership with Robin Pope Safaris up in the Nsefu sector for a few years now, producing the Safari Diaries that you will have seen/watched weekly. During the rainy season, they took off to the desert in Namibia and filmed the desert lions for their award-winning film Vanishing Kings.  Their main focus over the last few years has been the leopard project, studying and patiently filming one specific female leopard, getting to know her and really getting into her life.  A film like this takes time but we have always known that it was going to be incredible.  Let me pass you over to Will and Lianne to hear from them firsthand.

“Most Robin Pope Safaris’ guests have had the privilege to spend some time up in the Nsefu Sector, either at Tena Tena or at Nsefu Camp. It’s a very special part of South Luangwa, and made even more special by a female leopard who you may have heard of, or even come to know.

Back in 2015 she made an impressive first appearance in the main area of the Nsefu sector, by pushing out an older female ‘Hazel Eyes’, who later became known as ‘Kamuti’ in the TV show Africa’s Hunters, for which we were busy filming at the time.

This young female had come from Chimbwe lagoon, and she was not only astonishingly beautiful, she, also boasted confidence and courage, and took over a prime territory in the Stork Colony area where she was to thrive as a hunter. As we got to know her a bit better, we felt the name ‘Olimba’ would suit her, meaning ‘strength’ in the local language. As much as we tried to follow her closely over two seasons for Africa’s Hunters, she lived up to the reputation of her species – elusive and cloaked in mystery. Little did we know what she had in store for us when we returned the following year…

Throughout the years, Robin Pope Safaris had always been a great supporter of our work, and when we partnered up in 2017. It allowed us to make Nsefu Camp our permanent home, from where we could continue with our long term, character-driven wildlife films. Our ultimate goal was to develop an intimate and detailed portrayal of the one leopard we really wanted to follow… Olimba. We knew all too well she was a difficult leopard to keep track of, especially as she covered such a huge area between Chimbwe, the Salt Pan and the Wafwa; so, we were not sure what story she was going to bring us, and if she would give us enough for a strong story at all. But we gave it time. And time was kind to us…

Over three years Olimba showed us what she was made of, and her story became ever more intriguing. In that first year she had a cub who she mostly kept well hidden in the thickets between Chimbwe lagoon and Mamma Mia lagoon; while she excelled at her hunting in the gully of the Stork Colony, which had become her favourite hunting ground. This is also where most of RPS’s guests may have seen her – either sleeping in the gully whilst waiting for prey to come and graze on its edges or walking through the gully as she moved on after a failed hunt. Some may have even been really fortunate to have seen her in action here…

When the rains arrived, we were not able to follow Olimba for nearly five months, as the Nsefu Sector floods during the Emerald Season. But when we returned at the end of the rains, she had a surprise in store for us. Olimba revealed two tiny new-born cubs and allowed us to document both her fragile and courageous side of motherhood, in a most intimate and extraordinary way, and with it, the challenges she faced in having to provide for, and protect her young.

Over time we had come to know her favourite trees and resting spots, her preferred hunting grounds, and generally, the routes she took when on patrol. It allowed us to find her often enough that we were able to capture some of her most fearful, challenging, brave, triumphant and tragic moments, bringing all her trials and tribulations together in a powerful and captivating film. The result is Leopard Legacy, a true story about the survival of one remarkable female leopard in the Luangwa Valley.

Whether you have had the privilege to meet Olimba and some of her cubs, or perhaps any of the other astonishing leopards here – as an RPS guest and supporter having visited the Luangwa Valley, you will, like no other, be able to connect with this heart-warming and compelling story. One that will undoubtedly convince you to come back to the Valley once again, and perhaps give you the chance to meet this leopardess, or any of the other extraordinary spotted cats, that each have a fascinating story to tell…

Leopard Legacy has been selected for National Geographic’s 2021 Big Cat Month and will be shown worldwide. It’s kicking off in a few days’ time – in the UK it will broadcast Leopard Legacy this coming Wednesday, 3 February, at 9pm on Nat Geo Wild. Robin Pope Safaris will also keep you posted on broadcast dates through their social media and you can also follow us on Instagram (@leopardlegacy).

We really hope that you enjoy the film and look forward to sharing more of our films with you in the future.  Will & Lianne Steenkamp, Into Nature Productions.”

Wow, thanks so much Will and Lianne! I can vouch that the film is absolutely amazing, so happy watching to you.  Also, in all honesty this gives me nothing else to tell you except to wish you the most wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter, be safe and look after one another.

Emily
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