Photo: Izahn van Huyssteen

Little Madiba

IMG_0697IMG_0692IMG_0689I had the privilege to meet the first ever Strawberry Leopard born in captivity worldwide. And it’s here in South Africa. Madiba, as they named him, was born at the Akwaaba Lodge near Rustenburg in the North West, South Africa about six months ago. His sister, Liana, is a perfectly normal leopard.

Madiba is believed to have erythrism – which is not a sickness – but a mere genetic condition that is thought to cause either an overproduction of red pigments or an underproduction of dark pigments. Well whichever it is, Madiba is definitely one of a kind. The six month old cat has a personality as special as his condition.

In all the ways that matter, Madiba is as normal as any leopard (as well as mischievous), but for one difference, his fur. He is indeed a rare sighting and most definitely worth the drive over to Akwaaba Lodge, situated a mere 15km from Rustenburg. Akwaaba Lodge not only has this little miracle, but a wide range of other must-see animals as well. Such as white lions, Bengal tigers, wild dogs, spotted and striped hyenas, black leopards and many more amazing predators.

When asked why they gave Madiba this unique name, they said, because, like our beloved Nelson Mandela, Madiba is one in a million. We will never have another Nelson. So I’d say that name is absolutely spot on.

Madiba is one of two Strawberry Leopards in the world. The other which has only rarely ever been seen. Madiba and his sister were raised by hand and they are an absolute delight to watch together. The other two magnificent animals, and next to Madiba, my personal favourite, are a beautiful jaguar and a little Jack Russell dog. These two are inseparable. They grew up together and are the best of friends, if the owners attempt separation, they fall into a sort of “depression”. Go in their cage and try and take the little dog. Mister jaguar is not going to be happy and you’ll find that out very quick. It is absolutely adorable and just made my day. A little doggy with the heart and courage of a lion.

Don’t miss out on this rare sighting. It definitely is nature’s own little miracle. Akwaaba Lodge welcomes anyone who would wish to see Madiba and their other predators. There is also interaction allowed with some of the animals, such as Madiba. For animal lovers such as myself, this is an experience you simply can’t miss.

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