In 2005, a female leopard made her presence known at Xigera and has since become the darling of our reserve. This leopard is Mma Diphala whose name, in keeping with the Botswanan tradition of bestowing names that carry meaning and resonance, derives from her impressive hunting of impala. Mma Diphala, or in translation, ‘the one who preys on impala’, was the first female to become relaxed amidst our safari vehicles and has resultantly offered some beautiful moments of wonder and marvel over the years. Her presence here on the Okavango Delta is an unwavering gift and one that continues to grow as her family line expands.

Leopard in tree

Mma Diphala

The first addition to Mma Diphala’s family tree was bestowed upon us in 2009 with the birth of the beautiful Naletsana, which translates to ‘little star’. Her arrival was followed in 2013 by a male cub; however, his banishment by Mma Diphala (as is common with male adolescents) has meant that little is known of him. The guides here at Xigera suitably named him Bogwera: ‘the who went to the initiation school’.

In 2015 another female cub was welcomed to the reserve; her name is Sophie, a name that carries an array of ambiguous stories. Some say she is named after a popular Tswana song, others that it naturally derived from the distinguished ‘S’ mark created from the row of spots that trail from her right eye to her right cheek. Whichever story you choose, allow our guides to explain the rest to you during your next stay at Xigera.

Leopard and leopard cub

Sophie (pictured on the left) and her cub, born in 2020

By 2017 Mma Diphala’s line of female cubs was strong, a line that she added to again in the same year with the birth of twins. Whilst the male of the two sadly passed away, his timid sister began to flourish on the grasslands of the Delta and has since grown from a shy cub into a treasured darling. She was given the name Mma Orotwa, meaning ‘the beloved one’.

Leopard lying in tree

Mma Orotwa

Mma Diphala’s final cub thus far arrived in 2019 with the birth of Tshameko – ‘the playful one’, affectionately named after sightings of her playing and prancing in the grasslands. Tshameko remains a favourite here at Xigera, with some of our team taking tours across the reserve just to keep up the little one’s adventures.

Leopard cub hiding in tree


It would be amiss to tell the tale of Mma Diphala’s genealogy without mentioning the arrival of her first grandchild. Naletsana, Mma Diphala’s firstborn at the delta, had a cub of her own in 2014, a female named Boitumelo meaning ‘happiness’. The origin of such a name was inspired by the great joy that Boitumelo’s birth brought us here at Xigera. At the time of her arrival, we were passing through a dry spell in terms of leopard sightings, and both our team and our guests were anxious to discover the locations of our much-adored leopards. This spell, however, was joyously disrupted by Boitumelo’s arrival.

Boitumelo’s birth also saw the renaming of Naletsana to Mmaboitumelo, which means Boitumelo’s mother – it is the tradition in Botswanan culture for the mother to be renamed after her first child’s name upon their arrival. Mmaboitumelo then had twins of her own in February 2015 – two beautiful cubs named Pelokgale and Motlalepula. Pelokgale translates to ‘brave one’, and was inspired by his early signs of bravado, whilst Motlalepula loosely translates to ‘the one who came with rain’. This poetic name was inspired by the first sighting of her during the rainy season here at Xigera.

Leopard in grass



In keeping with her mother’s beloved reputation, Motlalepula has also inspired a wash of sentimentalism as she gave birth to two cubs in the period between Christmas and New Year in 2018-19. Making use of the builder’s absence over the Christmas period, Motlalepula found comfort and refuge in the unfinished building of Suite 2, where she gave birth to her two cubs. Their arrival in the world was discovered by our guide Genius, who upon hearing a noise from the suite, discovered the two newly born cubs nestled together with their eyes still closed. It was a moment of magic and a tale that never fails to warm the hearts of those that hear it.

Leopard and cub in tree

Motlalepula and cub

About the author

Salani Gambule is a Professional Safari Guide who has been at Xigera Safari Lodge since its opening in 2020. Alongside writing about his experiences on the Delta, and unveiling the many magical moments shared with guests across our safaris, Salani is fascinated by wildlife behaviour, birdlife culture, creepy crawlies, and tracking and discovering special sightings.

Salani holds a BA Degree from the University of Botswana, and as an avid conservationist, undertook a Diploma in Zoology and a Diploma in Conservation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through his knowledge and passion, guests can expect an array of exceptional moments at Xigera, and we look forward to continuing to share even a glimpse of the marvel that this diverse and ever-changing landscape inspires across this blog series.