Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

NATURE: The Leopard Legacy

Leopard mother Olimba looks up at her boys, who romp in the hollow of a tree offscreen. Zambia, Africa.
Courtesy of Will Steenkamp / © Into Nature Productions
Leopard mother Olimba looks up at her boys, who romp in the hollow of a tree offscreen. Zambia, Africa.

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV + Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand now with KPBS Passport!

Follow the story of a leopard mother as she raises her cubs near the Luangwa River, facing a constant battle to hunt successfully, defend her territory and protect her cubs against enemies on NATURE "The Leopard Legacy."

Preview of NATURE: The Leopard Legacy

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.

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.

Mother Leopard Protects Cubs from Male Intruder

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?

Young Leopard Learns How to Successfully Hunt

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.
  • 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.
Leopard Hunts Baboon in Broad Daylight

Watch On Your Schedule:

This episode is now available on demand with KPBS Passport, a benefit for members at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

Join The Conversation:

NATURE is on Facebook + Instagram + @PBSNature on Twitter #NaturePBS


A film by Will and Lianne Steenkamp, produced by Kurt Mayer Film and Into Nature Productions for ORF, ARTE and WDR in association with ORF Enterprise and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. Narrated by Noma Dumezweni and cinematography by Lianne Steenkamp (NATURE "The White Lions," 2012). Kurt Mayer and Will Steenkamp are executive producers. For NATURE, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Bill Murphy is series producer and Janet Hess is series editor.