I could be in the presence of leopards every minute of each day. Around 2003 [my husband] Dereck [Joubert] and I were fortunate to discover a newborn leopard cub. We had been tracking its mother for a few days. She led us to her den, where we met this tiny little fluffy fur ball, who we later called Legadema.
Legadema wobbled around her mother’s feet, very vulnerable. I instantly fell in love with this precious little creature. She was so exquisite in every way, from her camouflaged, beautiful fur coat to those piercing eyes. As she grew, her steel-blue eyes turned an incredible shade of bright amber, and they were always attentive.
She was filled with curiosity while she explored and investigated the forest. On many days she stared right at me, appearing to understand that we were not there to harm her but to protect her species. Her eyes would show compassion, which is so much of what I felt in her company.
The moments we spent with this mother and daughter were a lesson in caring and compassion. Their attention to each other, as if nothing else mattered, was part of the love affair I started feeling for all leopards. This moment changed our lives. For three and a half years we followed this inquisitive little cat. She seduced us to the point that we had no choice but to become ambassadors for leopards. —Beverly Joubert