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Living with Leopards review: This nature documentary stunningly captures the journey of wild cubs

Living with Leopards review: Netflix's latest nature documentary follows the life of two leopard cubs at Okavango Delta, Botswana, in Africa.

Living with Leopards review: This nature documentary stunningly captures the journey of wild cubs

Living with Leopards

Last Updated: 06.18 PM, May 12, 2024


Living with Leopards story

A film crew trains its lens on two leopard cubs and meticulously follows their journey as they get older, learn to hunt, fend off enemies and mark their own territories in the wild.

Living with Leopards review

Nature documentaries offer a window into the big wild world and the ways of incredible creatures that are far removed from our everyday environs. But the National Geographic programmes that I grew up watching offer a rather wide shot of the animal kingdom and we get to learn about the life cycle or behvaiour pattern of a pattern group, such as a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves.

But Netflix’s latest nature documentary, Living with Leopards, focuses on a pair of tiny leopard cubs, who have barely opened their eyes and looked at the world around them. It was by accident that the film crew finds the leopard cubs in their den, looking absolutely cute yet very much fragile and vulnerable. Directed by Brad Bestelink and Alex Parkinson, the documentary chronicles the journey of the leopard cubs and their mother at Okavango Delta, Botswana, in Africa.


The team names each of the leopard cubs and their mother, and also the father who is more like an extended cameo in this nature documentary. The team attributes human-like characteristics to the wild creatures, and their names reflect their behaviour. The female cub is named Kutjira, the shy one, while the male is named Dakunga, meaning the one who wants power. The documentary religiously follows the leopard cubs, as they grow older, slowly step out of their den, explore their surroundings, learn to hunt their prey, fend off enemies, and mark their territories. Their mother leopard is also very much part of the storytelling.

We also get to see the challenges faced by the team as they follow the leopards in the wild. The team explains how tedious and time-consuming it is as sometimes the leopards might stay still for hours at a stretch as they stalk their prey. Amid all this, they need to be careful about their own safety and well-being.

The most interesting and captivating aspect of this documentary is the stunning visuals - whether it is the wide shots of the wildland, or the up-close shots of the leopards themselves that you feel they are directly looking into the camera. Dramatic scenes also unfold as the leopards stalk, chase, hunt and finally kill their prey that are mostly impalas.

Living with Leopards is on Netflix
Living with Leopards is on Netflix

As the leopards grow older, the initial playfulness between the wild family turns more aggressive and the narrative changes. As the 1-hour-11-minute documentary focuses only on this leopard family, you begin to care for the wild cubs and worry about their wellbeing, just as the film crew admits in the documentary.

But that also works against the documentary since we do not get to learn much about the general behavioural pattern of the leopards. Though we are given some basic information about the leopards, the British documentary could have included more trivia to make it more interesting.

Living with Leopards verdict

If you are a fan of documentaries or are intrigued by the big world of the wild creatures, Living with Leopards is a must-watch. Even for those who are only mildly interested in the ways of the animal kingdom, this documentary would serve as a good starting point.


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