My Life with Leopards (Paperback)

Graham Cooke's Story

By Fransje Van Riel

Thistle Publishing, 9781910670866, 228pp.

Publication Date: December 23, 2016



In 1993 game ranger Graham Cooke was given the opportunity to parent two six-week-old leopard cubs. Establishing himself and his charges in a small tented camp in the middle of the South African bush, Graham set about his task of habituating the cubs to the dangers of the wild in preparation for their eventual release.

But first he had to gain the young leopards' trust. Boycat, the slightly bigger male cub proved to be an easy-going character and, after his initial reservations, he soon settled in. His sister Poepface however was not that easily swayed. Her complex character and strong reservations appeared to persist, despite Graham's efforts to win her trust.

Eventually Poepface relented and so began a love story; a powerful bond.

When a year later Graham prepared the cubs for their release in the remote South Luangwa Valley he knew it was the beginning of the end. Joining the cubs on daily walks to familiarise them with their new home. Graham knew that soon it would be time to let go.

Set in both in the bushveld of South Africa and the wilderness that is the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia, My Life with Leopards is a story with the universal theme of love, loss, danger and heartbreak.