Leopard Slays Its Most Feared Enemy The Baboon
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Uploaded on Aug 13, 2011
A particularly poignant and unexpected chapter occurs as Legadema nears the cusp of adulthood and kills a mother baboon only to find the young baby still clinging. To the Jouberts' amazement, instead of killing the baby baboon, Legadema lies down protectively around it and even gently lifts it to safety at the approach of a scavenging hyena.
"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."
Africa is so good at divulging little secrets, just when we think that we know it all so well. There are many myths and legends dancing around these ancient forests, where the Owls call your name and the distant Hippos speak to the gods. Another layer of mystery was added the night the Leopard lay down with the Baboon.
The leopard, Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its range of distribution has decreased radically because of hunting and loss of habitat. It is now chiefly found in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. Because of its declining range and population, it is listed as a "Near Threatened" species by the IUCN.
Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. There are five species, which are some of the largest non-hominid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger. Previously, the closely related gelada (genus Theropithecus) and the two species (mandrill and drill) of genus Mandrillus were grouped in the same genus, and these Old World monkeys are still often referred to as baboons in everyday speech. They range in size and weight depending on species. The Guinea baboon is 50 cm (20 inches) and weighs only 14 kg (30 lb) while the largest chacma baboon can be 120 cm (47 inches) and weigh 40 kg (90 lb).
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