Mail Online: The little orphan who got her claws into my heart, by HRH Princess Michael of Kent

The cub was so small, she could not have been more than a few days old.

She fitted easily into the palm of my hand, snuggled there with her eyes tight shut, a little black stripe running from the inner corner of her eye down to the side of her minuscule mouth.

She had a black nose, a tawny, hairy back, tiny black spots on her darkish coat and – surprisingly – a dark, spotted tummy. Her paws had sharp, transparent little hooks for claws, and a short, thick, pointed tail stuck out at the end of her body.

All my maternal instincts went into overdrive – I was in love and helpless with a yearning to protect her, feed her, do anything I could to ensure she survived.

I was 17 and visiting my father’s farm in Africa for the first time. My parents had parted when I was an infant and my father had moved to Portuguese East Africa, now Mozambique. He started farming there and remarried.

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