Every storyline needs an antagonist.

Without a ‘villain’, a story doesn’t have much to fight against. A memorable antagonist makes the story itself even more memorable by their mere presence, making us root for the hero’s tale because they are fighting harder against this obstacle. This has been seen time and again through various classic narratives such as Lord of the Ring’s Sauron, Snow White’s Evil Queen, and Star Wars’s Darth Vader. safariLIVE is no different and one particular big cat has arisen recently to present himself as the obstacle for many of the other characters.

This cat is Hukumuri. His origin is shrouded in mystery, as the guides have no idea where he came from or even how he got into the current territory he resides in. Even his true age is up for speculation, although many have guessed that he is approximately 4-5 years old. It is believed he came from Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park, two hundred kilometers (a hundred and twenty four miles) away the Sabi Sands area. But still, Hukumuri’s origins are like a dense fog, unable to be parted truly, and the lack of information about him seems to make his presence only more intimidating.

Hukumuri appeared on the scene completely out of the blue, unannounced as an unknown leopard.

He immediately disrupted the leopard status quo of Sabi Sands, disturbing the relative peace that had been around for a long time. The resident male, Tingana, had been unwell for sometime and as a result, wasn’t able to properly maintain his territory or challenge the new upstart intruding into his territory. As a result, Tingana ended up hiding and Hukumuri was allowed free reign to establish himself as the new dominant male. He quickly took to that position, mating with Xidulu and challenging the longtime residents.

This show of force has led to numerous confrontations between Hukumuri and other animals of the Sabi Sands. He’s had standoffs with hyenas over slain prey, boldly stealing kills himself from other leopards, and had face offs with rivals such as Anderson and Gijima. His presence has resulted in the upending of the other leopard’s patterns: Shadow and her daughter disappeared while Thandi and Tlalamba crept into the safety of the East. Hukumuri has made a name for himself, especially with the impact he’s had on the longtime, and much loved characters.

Hukumuri has cast his gaze on being the new king of Djuma and he certainly seems fit to claim the throne, being young, strong, and quite the hunter. As he continues to wander the area, causing conflict wherever he goes, it seems others are doing little to supplant that challenge. He’s certainly proven himself and garnered a reputation so far. But perhaps he’ll be met with a challenger. Will he claim the throne? Or will another rise to send him back from whence he came? Only time will tell.

Written by: Jake McDaniel