We mourn, and celebrate, this Watch Wednesday! – 9 March 2022

In Celebration of Strong Women

When she selected my tent to curl up against seductively, she used all her feminine skills to send a signal, offering trust in exchange for respect and comfort for that heart-warming companionship. This transaction was actually transformational and additive, not meant to cost or demean either, or designed to force one down to make the other rise.

She found our tent to seek shelter from the rains and floods and give birth to her third set of cubs on or under our tents at Mara Plains Camp and Mara Toto Camp.

She is symbolic of how I see women’s empowerment at its best, where if women rise, all rise. If women succeed, their communities, men and women thrive because joy and success are unlimited.

She, in this case, was a leopard we had named Fig. Fig’s hunting and nurturing inspired many of our guests, who spent tens of thousands of hours with her. One of her cubs, Toto, inspired our film, Jade Eyed Leopard.

Recently she lay draped across two Acacia branches, her pregnant belly sagging in between them, a belly symbolic of the gifts she would bring, similar to the contributions women bring in our culture, the delight of life.

We later found those gifts scattered at the base of the tree, unwrapped and unruly, crawling all over her, and as they did, she looked at them with the warmth of acceptance as only mothers can, of the way her cubs would change her life. She was at this moment the epitome of a female leopard – huntress during the night, nurturing mother during the day in the shady grove of trees at the river. She was both dangerous and compassionate.

This weekend a male lion stalked in and caught her.

It is the end of an era. But only for Fig, as she disappears from our lives, leaving behind the cubs she brought us and a long legacy of her bloodline of fine Mara leopards. Her death comes at a time when the world recognises and celebrates the role that women play in our lives today, without whom, of course, we would not exist or be nurtured. There would be no human bloodline.

Like so many things, it is only when it is taken away that we most focus on how much we appreciate something or someone. For that, amongst so many others today, as we celebrate women, our appreciation goes deeper than that and should be constant, and while we have that woman in our lives, not too late, not once she is gone.

We thank you for the gifts you gave us, Fig, and we appreciate the strong, dangerous, engaging, and vital women of our species today.

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