Along Zambia’s Luangwa River is “The Leopard Legacy” on NATURE – April 14 at 8:00 pm

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Nature: The Leopard Legacy

 Premieres Wednesday, April 14 at 8 p.m. on PBS, and the PBS Video app


A confident and powerful leopardess called Olimba rules over an exceptionally large area along Zambia’s Luangwa River. She is a formidable hunter, a courageous ruler and a devoted mother. She has just given birth to two tiny cubs, and as she faces the challenging task of motherhood, it is a constant battle to hunt successfully, to defend her prime territory and to protect her cubs against enemies.

The silhouette of a leopard resting on a dead ancestral tree. Zambia, Africa.
The silhouette of a leopard resting on a dead ancestral tree. Zambia, Africa.

One day, Olimba discovers a nomadic male leopard near her cubs, and without hesitation, she attacks him. He makes a lucky escape, but when Olimba returns to the den, one of her cubs is gone. As she comes to terms with her loss, Olimba forges on as a devoted mother and passes on all her knowledge to her blue-eyed boy, named Makumbi. When he is one year old and succeeds in hunting his own prey, Olimba must part ways with her son. Their final hostile encounter leaves the youngster vulnerable with a dreadful eye injury. Will his resilience and fighting spirit help him overcome this injury?


Buzzworthy Moments:

  • Olimba, a leopardess named for her strength and boldness, is a mother to two cubs. While the cubs are very young, she must hide them from predators in the hollow of a winter thorn tree until they are old enough to learn how to hunt.
  • A young leopard. Zambia, Africa.
    The young leopard male Makumbi carefully observes his surroundings. Zambia, Africa.

    When the cubs have grown a bit, Olimba demonstrates how to hunt impala and other prey. One day, a nomadic male leopard encroaches on her territory. Olimba fights off the intruder, but when she comes back to where her cubs were hiding, one of them is missing. Her desperate search leads nowhere, and she must now focus on the survival of her remaining cub, Makumbi.

  • Makumbi grows up under the tutelage of Olimba. When he reaches one year old, he becomes a successful hunter with a penchant for birds. Now able to take care of himself, Olimba forces him to part with her. They fight and Makumbi is left with an eye injury in a harsh but necessary final lesson of survival.