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Living with Leopards – A Netflix Showcase of Botswana’s Special Xudum Concession

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Matthys van Aswegen

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Matthys van Aswegen

Author: Matthys van Aswegen - 14 June 2024

Last Update: 19 July 2024

Renowned wildlife filmmaker Brad Bestelink has spent the last four years based in the Xudum concession in Botswana, where he and his team filmed the captivating Netflix documentary “Living With Leopards.” 

His journey began over 20 years ago in the Xudum region, where his father established a tourism operation. Having known the area intimately, Bestelink has captured its diverse ecosystems on film for projects like National Geographic’s “The Flood” and the BBC’s “Africa’s River Giants.”

His latest documentary showcases his admiration for leopards: Their intelligence, beauty, and solitary nature, particularly the behaviors of mother leopards raising their young. This passion is evident in the documentary, which captures the leopards’ struggles and successes, making them relatable to a broader audience.

Four years ago, Xudum’s landscape transformed due to reduced water levels, becoming a predator hotspot. Recognizing this unique opportunity, Bestelink established a permanent filming camp in Xudum, leading to the creation of both “Surviving Paradise” and “Living With Leopards” for Netflix.

The project, initiated just before the COVID-19 pandemic, required a long-term commitment to film leopard cubs growing up. Despite the risks, Bestelink’s experience and the exceptional qualities of a leopard named Mochima provided confidence in the project’s success.

 Bestelink emphasizes the importance of emotional connection in nature documentaries, aiming to make viewers feel the wilderness’s emotional journey.

Watch Living with Leopards on Netflix.

To experience the magic of Mokolwane and perhaps catch a glimpse of the next big wildlife documentary in the making see Discover Africa’s the latest Tour:  Botswana – Delta & Makgadikgadi Pans Safari

Visitors to Mokolwane, set within the Xudum Concession, have the unique opportunity to experience Bestelink and his team at work while spotting remarkable leopard sightings firsthand. The area boasts one of Africa’s highest leopard densities and a pristine wilderness with diverse wildlife, including lions, wild dogs, and cheetahs.

Mokolwane offers guests an immersive experience, with only seven rooms amidst 200,000 hectares of untouched wilderness, ensuring a profound sense of solitude and connection with nature. Bestelink and his team continue their work, with a new project set for release in September.

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