‘In the Spirit of Laxmi’ follows the journey of Gerhard Wiehahn as he raises an abandoned leopard cub in the Indian province of Rajasthan.
Hungry, weak and injured, the cub was left for dead on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park where she was found by forest rangers. Forest rangers contacted Aman-i-Khás hotel manager Gerhard Wiehahn – a conservationist and ex-game ranger from South Africa. Wiehahn took on the cub in these critical moments of her early life and the two embarked on a journey aimed at raising Laxmi and returning her into the wilderness.
Relying on a methodology that had Wiehahn teaching by example, he found himself physically exerted to the maximum. He began carrying Laxmi in his mouth as a mother leopard would do, teaching her to hunt by hunting himself and coaxing her survival skills by spending nights out in the bush with her.
This training required a complete mind/body commitment and brought him to his physical and emotional limits. His days were spent away from his work and family, roaming the hills with Laxmi making sure she developed into an independent predator. Wiehahn’s reward was watching Laxmi transform from a playful cub into a strong, mature hunter.
The two spent sixteen months together – hunting, stalking and climbing – all the while preparing for Laxmi’s moment of freedom. ‘In The Spirit of Laxmi’ follows Wiehahn and Laxmi as they move in two seemingly incongruent directions; together, becoming increasingly inseparable as the months progress, and apart, as Laxmi develops into an independent adult and they move towards their final good-byes.