Friday, 24 February 2017

The Cat Report 17 - 24 February 2017

Friday the 17th of February

The week is off to a great start with the continued presence of the Nkuhuma pride on Djuma. Three of the stunning lionesses and all six of their quickly growing cubs were still milling about near their waterbuck carcass. All nine of the tawny cats were full to bursting and looked more like vaguely lion -shaped beach balls rather than the apex predator of the African savanna. The cats did what they do best by lazing about and having the odd nibble of the sparse remains of their kill. Eventually darkness began to settle on the wild and WE left the cats to their evening business.

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(Nkuhuma cub stretching out after a day of feasting, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Saturday the 18th of February

The Nkuhuma’s, three lionesses and six cubs accounted for, finished off their waterbuck breakfast - this antelope might become their favourite meal in the near future seeing as the buffalo have vacated Djuma for the time being. There were barely any scraps left for the prying vultures and with full bellies the lions slowly strolled down to Buffelshoek dam for a cool refreshment.

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(Nkuhuma’s taking a refreshment break. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

Quarantine was dawdling along the road, making his way into the early morning wet grass. He gracefully climbed up a marula tree, searching for the perfect nap spot as he tried many different positions. Finally satisfied, he watched with an inquisitive gaze as the elephant below him rummaged for marulas.

(The inquisitive Quarantine. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhuma’s were seen again at sunset, lazing around in the afternoon heat. It seemed that they were trying their hardest to move as little as possible. We watched as they dozed back and forth into their daytime dreams.

(Lazing in the heat. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The drive ended off with a brief moment accompanied by one of the Birmingham boys. The cat lay flat and was un-phased by anyone or anything. The situation might’ve changed deeper into the night when his energy was regained.
Sunday the 19th of February

A cloudy yet balmy and humid morning broke over the Sabi Sand just as Karula, Hosana and Xongile paced across our southern boundary. WE watched as the great queen escorted her two cubs through the thick verdant bush and out of sight. Later, reports over the radio indicated that Karula had made a kill and was indeed taking the royal prince and princess on an early morning breakfast run. Later that afternoon the great Queen had made a return to Djuma. She dozed in the hot midday sun until eventually it came time for a little hunting. She playfully stalked a tiny francolin before moving off into a thicket. To the south her two cubs, Hosana and Xongile were found flat and sleepy on little Gowrie. WE could only see a tiny bit of Hosana’s tail dangling from a high tree branch and eventually we moved on to find something a little more active.

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(Queen Karula regally rests in a tree, Screenshot Credit: Karen Gilliam, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Further to the north the three Nkuhuma lionesses and their six fat and healthy little cubs were found. They had barely moved from the evening before save for maybe a roll over from one side of a swollen belly to the other. The lions seemed to be trying their hardest to imitate statues, yet again very little movement had occurred through the day. The big cats then spent the rest of the day lazing about in the newly verdant grasses.

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(Sleepy and relaxed Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Monday the 20th of February

Another royal dawn awaited the safariLIVE crew as WE went out on the last of our eight live television shows. Both Hosana and Xongile were found on Little Gowrie to the south of Djuma. The cubs frisked and played with ecstatic vigor before eventually disappearing into a dense wall of thick green bush.

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(Young Hoasana having a look around, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Little Gowrie)

To the west the Nkuhuma pride had been found on foot by Stef. The three lionesses and six young cubs seemed particularly antsy. Word the trickled through the crackling radio indicating that the Matimba males had been seen on Elephant Plains to the west of Arathusa. It then made sense as to why the Nkuhuma pride were so on edge. Eventually Jamie made her way into the sighting and spent a few exquisite minutes with the beautiful lions as the wandered their way north and into Simbambili.  

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(Nkuhuma lioness keeping a wary eye out, Screenshot Credit: Linda McCaslin, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

Tuesday the 21st of February

The Duke of Djuma was nearly missed as he camouflaged himself in the thick grass of Arathusa. His coat looked dapper, and his belly was full - a very handsome and healthy leopard to say the least. He rested comfortably before the heat of the day hit.
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(Looking into the eyes of handsome Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

WE came across an unidentified leopard on the sunset safari. After much discretion, it was finalised to be Kuchava. The cat lay flat on top of a termite mound underneath the grey African skies. She was briefly entertained by a few oxpeckers as they called. Her head poked up, but very quickly put back down as she happily continued to rest.

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(Kuchava yawning between naps. Screenshot Credit: David Holm safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday the 22nd of February

WE were entertained by Xongile being a typical girl as she got ready for the day ahead. She manicured her claws as she sharpened them on a nearby tree. Her climbing skills were perfected as she practiced going up and down the same tree. Hosana lay flat and watched his sister, probably rolling his eyes.

(Xongile sharpening her claws. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhuma’s, three lionesses and six cubs, were bundled together underneath the afternoon rain. They scratched, stretched, licked and groomed themselves and one another - getting rid of boredom but ticks as well. Despite the size of the fast growing cubs, they suckled from their mother and aunt, enjoying every drop. WE left them as darkness approached.

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(The Nkuhuma’s stretching and scratching. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

Thursday the 23rd of February

The lions it seemed walked Djuma flat during the darkest hours of the night. Their tracks had been found littering the roads on the northern edge of the property. Eventually they were found way to the east near buffelshoek dam. Something it seems is still ruffling these ladies feathers as they quickly marched through the bush constantly checking over their shoulder and on their cubs continued safety. Eventually the big cats came to rest in such a dense wet thicket that WE could barely see them.

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(A big yawn before a long nap. Screenshot Credit: Di Priem safarLIVE, Djuma)

Later that day, the Nkuhuma’s lay flat in the grass near Buffelshoek dam. They seemed to be extremely tired and sleepy, probably from all the walking they did the night before. WE watched them struggle to keep their eyes open, and soon we left them as they started to dream.

Friday the 24th of February

Another grey and cloudy morning was spent with the Nkuhuma pride. Three lionesses and six cubs sheltered themselves as best they could from the light yet unrelenting drizzle. The pride was still on edge and with reports of the Matimba males being seen on Djuma the night before it is no surprise why. Track of the once dominant males were found leaving the property so it seems the Nkuhuma’s and their gorgeous cubs are safe for now.

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(A soggy Nkuhuma cub gazes through the bush, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#safariLIVE Viewer Profile: Brendan Blanchard

Artist and bible study teacher, Brendan Blanchard recently joined the ranks of WE's safarians.  "I discovered SafariLive on YouTube quite by accident. It appeared in suggestions based on my viewing preferences as I had been looking at some live wildlife cameras in various locations. I couldn’t resist having a look at it. Since then I have been a regular viewer."

He says three things made him keep coming back. "Firstly leopards – Karula, Hosana and Xongile made an appearance. Secondly Elephants. Last but not least that most interesting and enigmatic denizen of the African bush - James Hendry!"

"Fixation" - artist: Brendan Blanchard

He recounts some of the special moments from drive fondly, and thinks his favourite would be the "very recently born elephant that Jamie came across on one of the drives in December last year". "To see the care that the other elephants showed when he tumbled down a little embankment was just beautiful. It was a privilege to see the interaction between the members of the herd."

Brendan would love to visit the greater Kruger National Park but wants to also see all the areas WE traverse while on the drive - Djuma, Arathusa, Chitwa Chitwa, and Cheetah Plains.

"Royal Paw" - artist: Brendan Blanchard

He has some high praise for the work WE and the safariLIVE crew does out in the bush. "The opportunity to see animals in their natural environment and to know that it is happening live, is wonderful", he says.

"I might never get to visit the Kruger area but this is almost as good as being there. In some ways, it’s better because you can see some of the animals over a period of time. I think that safariLIVE plays an important role in heightening appreciation for the animals that we share the planet with. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the guides are infectious. Overall it is just a special privilege to come along on these drives."

If you have an interesting story to tell about your #safariLIVE or WildEarth experience, and would like to be featured in a future #safariLIVE Viewer Profile, contact us with your contributions, photo and video submissions at You could be interviewed next!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

That’s A Wrap!

There’s been hairies and scaries, creepies and crawlies, and not to forget leopards, leopards, leopards! WE have had a memorable and thrilling TV series over the past eight weeks. WE want to thank all the viewers for their amazing support and enjoying the incredible ride with us. WE could not have done it without YOU!

The crew has worked tirelessly over the past months to bring to you the magic of the African bush, and will be having a brief but well deserved break on Monday the 20th February, after the last episode of the series. WE will be cancelling the sunset safari that afternoon to rest and recover, but will be jumping straight back onto the vehicle’s for the sunrise safari on the 21st of February. There are exciting things around the next corner, so stay tuned…

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Cat Report 10 - 17 February

Thandi Resting. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

Friday the 10th of February

Jamie spent her Friday afternoon with two special felines. We started off with Thandi lying comfortably in a tree and then travelled to Cheetah Plains, where little Vutomi was having a lot of fun by Buffalo pan. Vutomi surprised us all by diving face first into the water and catching himself a terrapin to eat. He slinked off into the tall grass to eat his prize in peace.

Saturday 11th of February

Unknown Male Cheetah. Screenshot Credit: Dave Holm safariLIVE, Djuma

During the sunset drive, the young princess Xongile concealed herself in the verdant thickets of grass surrounding twin dams. The was warm and the cat was interested in little other than spending the rest of the daylight hours napping out of site.

To the west however a newcomer made an appearance on the Arathusa airstrip. An unknown and young male cheetah was found reclining on an open clearing. He dozed periodically between checking over his shoulder for approaching threats. Eventually he sauntered elegantly over to a nearby pan for a long and refreshing drink. 

Sunday the 12th of February

Lady Xongile. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

The morning began with our favourite spotted lady, young Xongile exploring her surrounding and playfully bounding through the bush after anything that moved. Later that afternoon Karula was found resting near a muddy pan. She called to her cubs and soon Hosana came bounding out of the bush for a snuggle with mom. The mother and son duo then got up and walked off into the wilderness.

To the south on Chitwa Chitwa, Thandi and her young unnamed cub had been found resting in a tall marula. Both cats were full to bursting and had clearly devoured whatever kill Thandi had made in the days prior. Thandi slept off her fat belly while her young male cub gazed about the wilderness in total boredom. Eventually as the sun set we left the pair to their evening business.

Monday the 13th Of February

Another royal welcome to the day from Karula, Hosana and Xongile. The slender spotted cats were enjoying a relatively cool morning relaxing near Treehouse dam. Karula was once again unimpressed with Hosana’s continued nagging for attention. She hissed and moved off leaving the cubs to their own devices. Soon they clambered up a nearby tree and fought over the most comfortable spot. 

Back on Chitwa Thandi and her cub were found once again. Still tucked away safely in the large boughs of their chosen marula tree. Once again Thandi slept off her still hugely swollen belly white her young cub tried everything to remain occupied. He swatted at insects, and played with his tail before eventually drifting off to sleep in the muggy heat of another African day.

Thandi's cub fighting boredom. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

Tristan spent the afternoon with Hosana, who had a few visitors stop by his local waterhole spot. First a small herd of elephants and then a hyena who decided Hosana’s shady spot was the place to be. Hosana watched from a distance as the Hyena wallowed in the shallow water. 

The Nkuhuma’s finally graced us with their presence again. Amber Eyes and the youngest lioness were found walking along the road in the dusk, we closed the drive with the lovely lionesses lying on the road. 

The Nkuhuma's come out of the shadows. Screenshot Credit: Lellovlev safariLIVE, Djuma
Tuesday the 14th of February

WE spent our Valentine’s Day with the loving Royal Family. In the sunrise safari, Hosana and Xongile spent their morning together, playing and practising their hunting skills. 

That afternoon, Karula came to collect the cubs. Hosana was in a playful mood, Xongile wandered a bit too far and lost her royal kin but eventually found them again as they moved off into the evening. 

Xongile searching. Screenshot credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

Wednesday the 15th of February

One of the Cheetah brothers' chase of impala was disturbed by a mischievous troop of baboon on Cheetah Plains. He stopped sulking and posed with pride on top of a log as the sun was rising, a beautiful moment for the morning safari. 

Cheetah brother posing. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

Towards the end of the day Hosana and Xongile were spotted near Treehouse dam, lazing around in the unbearable heat and having the occasional sip of water.  
Karula on the other hand was found on her own, and too lethargic to even bat an eyelid. 

A highlight scene of one of the cheetah brothers as he roamed the plain with a satisfied belly & a blood-stained mouth. He stood still as Dineo the tropical storm approached in the background, framed by a vibrant rainbow. 

As nightfall approached and the hunger set in, two of the Nkuhuma’s, Amber Eyes and the youngest lioness attempted to hunt a kudu, impala and a warthog - all unfortunately unsuccessful for the cats. 

Nkuhuma lioness. Screenshot Credit: Anges Zsiga safariLIVE, Djuma

Friday the 17th of February

Our grey and wet morning was brightened up by the Nkuhuma pride as they shared a waterbuck as a family meal. The cubs were looking healthy, and there is no longer any sign of their mange. A very happy family with their red stained smiles. 

A satisfied Nkuhuma pride. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma

Monday, 13 February 2017

Wild Weather Headed For The Sabi Sands

If weather predictions are anything to go by, WE are in for a very wet week. A huge tropical storm system has been building over the Mozambique channel and has just been classified as tropical cyclone "05S Dineo". It is expected to make landfall over Mozambique before continuing on to the north-eastern part of South Africa.

The paths of these cyclones are notoriously difficult to predict, but some models have it passing right over the Sabi Sands. So WE had better be prepared. While wind speeds are likely to have dropped from cyclone to storm level (small mercies), if it hits, we might get 200mm of rain within 24 hours. And while the bush desperately needs water, this much, this quickly will create all kinds of havoc.

All the little drainage lines and dips will start flowing, from the Milwati to Philemon's dip, and dams might go from empty to full overnight, roads will wash away, garages and room may flood, etc.

As always we will do our utmost to not let 'a bit of weather' stop our shows but there might be a point where we have to cancel or shorten a drive in order to protect people and equipment and hunker down for a bit. We are making our preparations - checking that everything is tied down, filling sand bags, stocking up on generator fuel. We'll batten down the hatches so that the storm has a minimal effect on operations once it passes.

We are following the system closely to see how it moves and grows and will provide regular updates on drives and our social media accounts.

For more information on the forecast ahead for 'Dineo', and a closer look at the map below, visit Tropical Tidbits.