Natural History and Wildlife

Diary of a Teen Leopard


As a young male leopard, Pemba is a useless hunter and completely reliant on his doting mother. But when an injury ends her ability to provide food, how will Pemba cope with his new responsibilities?

Leopards have all the attributes to be supremely successful hunters. They are blessed with agility, power, strength and cunning. An efficient apex predator cat that has no equal. But they don’t all start out like that.

So leopards are supposed to be stealthy? Pemba is clumsy and accident prone. Leopards are supposed to solitary - but Pemba craves company. While leopards are normally flexible hunters, Pemba is a fussy eater and he even needs his mother to remove the fur from his favorite prey - impala. The problem is, Pemba is not a cub anymore. He’s ready to fend for himself, but he just won’t do it. He’s completely indulged and spoilt by his mother. She gives him cuddles on demand and food when he needs it. She gives up all her meals - and her trees - for him. Pemba had a sister, but lions killed her, and his mother became overprotective of her surviving cub. She tries to teach him and sends him off alone to hunt at night. But he’s dreadful! He has no patience. He gets bored quickly. He can’t catch birds and springhares are too agile for him. He can’t even drag a carcass up a tree. Compared to him, his mother is a superstar. She’s a superb hunter, she fights off hyenas and she’s strong. So there’s no real motivation for him to try hard. His mother is always there to feed him and she always welcomes him back. The problem is, he’s 2 years old now and its definitely time for him to leave. One day, his mother turns up injured and this is the motivation for him to pull his weight. She can’t hunt now, so what will they do?

Pemba is forced to grow up, and establish himself as a real leopard. He finally perfects the art of hunting birds and springhares, which he at first shares with his mother. Ultimately, she heals and tries to chase him off. During this time he attracts the attention of a younger female leopard who wants him as her mate. Pemba initially resists, but this new found lover eventually breaks the ties to his mother and sets him off on his long awaited life of independence.


Programme Details

1 x 60'
National Geographic