One of our experiences set us on a course to answer that burning question. It happened around the time of her first big kill.
Although we had followed her since she was just eight days old, what she did was a surprise, even to us.
But as she pulled the baboon up into the trees something moved, a one day old baby baboon. Lakudeema hadn’t noticed at first but when he fell down we got ready to film a short sad moment.
But she surprised us, she didn’t try to kill the baby and then, as soon as there was a threat, she rescued it and took it to higher safe branches.
For four hours, when into the night, she took care of her baby.A little playful at times and a little rough but careful and with a soft mouth, moving it out of harm’s way in exactly the same way she would years later with her own cubs.
She seemed to be caught up in a dilemma between a desire to nurture and to play. Suppressing her most natural instincts as a predator.
What changed us that day was the realization that our broad-stroke conservation, while concentrating on population and big cat policies was ignoring a vital fact, each individual cat like Lakudeema has a completely different personality and value. There are fifty-thousand Lakudeemas out there, each with its life in our hands.
Eventually, she and the baby baboon snuggled up against the cold winter night and went to sleep together.