Saturday the 6th of February
Some freshes faces greet us this morning with a sighting of 3 Styx lioness. The cats were spotted by Brent early on the sunrise safari, bathed in the glory of the African sunrise. At the start of the month one of the females was sighted mating with one of the Birmingham Boys on Nkorho, with any luck she is pregnant and hopefully the pitter patter of tiny lion paws will be heard once again in the Northern Sabi Sands! In the meantime it seems the lionesses are doing well, they are well fed, looking healthy and enjoying the cool of the early morning.
(Styx Lioness, Screenshot Credit: Deborah Bonneville, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later in the day we are treated to a very special visit from the Queen of Djuma, Karula. After discovering her cub(s) last week we have not seen much of her but even leopard mothers need to eat and drink! Scott caught up with her on the sunset safari, she was mobile and determined. He thinks that maybe she is on the lookout for a new den site, a good omen, suggesting that her offspring are doing well and it may be time to den somewhere a little larger.
Sunday the 7th of February
Although no cat sightings were had on safariLIVE, one of the Birmingham Boys was spotted strolling nonchalantly across an open plain on Chitwa Chitwa. He stopped for a brief drink at the fresh water pan and then did what lions do best...sleep on top of the dam wall!
(Birmingham Boy Male Lion, Image Credit: Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge, Chitwa Chitwa)
Another hugely popular but not often seen character has also been spotted today on Cheetah Plains, Kunyuma, an impressive and growing male leopard who once prowled Djuma under the protection of his mother Karula. He was sighted having a long drink and patrolling around his new home area, only time will tell whether he’ll be able to hold on to this territory or not. As a young male of about 3 years he has yet to reach his full size and maturity, making the establishment of a territory difficult at his age and size.
(Kunyuma, Male Leopard, Image Credit: Cheryl Hamilton, Cheetah Plains Private Game Reserve)
Monday the 8th of February
Relief this morning when the Nkuhuma pride are found mobile through Djuma. The unaccounted for lioness is back with the pride. Very little is known about what she was up to in her time away. It’s impossible to know for certain where she was or what drew away from the pride for those days, however, she is none the worse for wear. The cats were flat as ever and savouring the last minutes of couth before the heat of the blazing sun settles in for the day. Jamie reckons that these cats had a kill that was potentially stolen in the night. They were uneasy with the presence of the vehicle so Jamie is sure to give them plenty of room. At the end of the sunrise drive Jamie left them in their sleep-state for the day.
(Nkuhuma Pride of Lions [front] Jamie & Andrew [back], Screenshot Credit: Susan McDowell, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later that evening during the sunset safari Jamie returns to the lazy cats. The remain highly static for the duration of the sunset safari. Reports on the 5th member of the pride indicate she is still in passionate throws with of the Birmingham Boys on Nkorho. She’s been sighted with the large male for a few days now, hopefully all this mating coincides with a genuine oestrous cycle and with any luck some new little lions are on the way!
(Nkuhuma lioness and Birmingham male lion, Image Credit: Karin van der Merwe, Nkorho Bush Lodge)
From the big golden cats to the graceful spotty ones, Tingana, was also found today on Elephant Plains Game Lodge. He’s made a zebra kill and has hoisted it into a large tree, a good idea considering his last kill was stolen in the night by hyena. He spent the evening in the tree feeding and by the next morning he has already moved on.
(Tingana male Leopard with kill, Image Credit: Louis Liversage, Elephant Plains Game Lodge)
Tuesday the 9th of February
The safariLIVE drives kicked off in the morning with the Nkuhuma pride. There are still only 4 lionesses present in the sighting when Brent and Andrew arrive. As ever, the cats were flat and spent the majority of the morning hoping between pools of shade to avoid the inferno like rays of sunshine beating down on them. Brent eventually leaves the sleeping lions for the morning, certain they will be in the same spot later in the day.
Brent’s predictions on the lions prove to be correct as Jamie heads through to catch up with them on sunset safariLIVE drive. The lions could not be less interested in working up the effort to move. Indeed the most movement we saw them do was to rise up and walk a few meters before collapsing on each other in the afternoon light. As the sun set the lions decided to change up their routine and instead of lying under a bush decide to lie up right next to the vehicle providing a good challenge to camera operator, Bryan, who created very dynamic shots of lioness obscured by vehicle. Brent then leaves them for the evening.
(Nkuhuma Lioness, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Wednesday the 10th of February
A very special visit came in the form of the Wild Dogs this morning! Jamie starts off the safariLIVE drive by heading to Sydney’s dam, word was the wild dogs were mobile in that direction and Jamie didn’t want to miss out on any of the action. Sure enough, as she arrived so did the dogs trying to run down a totally harassed impala ram. The adults then broke off from the rather large pups and chased the impala further into the bush. The pups then turned and made straight for Djuma, in direct line with the safariLIVE cameras! The adults return to find the pups a few minutes later after a failed hunt attempt and they rest up in the shade for a few minutes before exploding off into the bush again. Absolute chaos then erupts, it seems there was not one but two packs on the property and their paths just happened to cross! They disappear in a cloud of dust and wild yipping and then all goes silent. Jamie searched frantically for any sign of them and eventually finds them as they head into Simbambili.
(Investec Pack of Wild Dog, Screenshot Credit: Linda McCaslin, safariLIVE, Djuma)
On the same morning we were also treated to a visit by Shadow, one of Karula’s daughters and dominant female on Arathusa. She has made her way onto the reserve and behind some very thick bush. All we could see of the cat are some dangling paws and a few spots visible through the verdant green leaves. She’s very flat and not doing much so Jamie soon left her and headed back towards the area where the wild dogs were.
Later the same day Shadow’s mother, Karula is found on the reserve by safariLIVE presenter Stef Winterboer. She’s making her way through the bush in the afternoon light on the prowl and scent marks as she does so, she stops for a much needed drink at the Djuma freshwater pan and eventually she meandered off the road into some thick bush. Stef does not follow, due to the current situation with her newborn cub(s), as it stands no extra pressure is being put on the cat due to her maternal state. We leave her walking off into the night, most likely returning to her new den sight.
(Karula female Leopard, Screenshot Credit: MJ Bradley, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Not long after the sighting with Karula, James finds Tingana who was also on a territory patrol combined with hunt. He made his way through his new territory on Djuma and also stopped for a drink. In fact he arrived at the Djuma freshwater pan very soon after Karula left. He lounges next to the water and drinks until all the light of the day is gone and we are forced to leave him to his business for the evening.
(Tingana Male Leopard, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thursday the 11th of February
Another visit from our favourite canine friends kicks off the safariLIVE drive with both presenters in the middle of all the action. As usual the dogs created chaos as they coursed through the bush chasing everything in sight, running, skipping, jumping and playing as they went. They eventually run down an exhausted antelope and devour it in seconds. This is their second kill for the morning, they were initially found with a lifeless scrub hare. A fight seems to break out amongst the pack members but soon all is forgotten and the pack move on to torment an already terrorised elephant. Soon after the dogs found an equally terrorised hyena and chase it relentlessly through the bush before bound out of our traverse to continue their wild antics elsewhere.
(Wild Dog, Pack Unidentified, Screenshot Credit: Claire Armendinger, safariLIVE, Djuma)
On the same day the Nkuhuma pride are spotted on Nkorho, they are in the presence of one of the Birmingham Boys and all five members of the pride have been reunited. There are strange circumstances around this sighting as the lions had chased a kudu into the freshwater pan and spent the last minutes of the dying daylight frustratedly trying to reach the terrified kudu (watch video here.) Unfortunately neither the kudu nor the lions were the victor, the kudu, now completely exhausted drowns and the lions are kept from the water’s edge by a rather large and irritable hippo.
(Nkuhuma Lionesses [left] & Birmingham male Lion [right], Image Credit: Nkorho Rangers, Nkorho Bush Lodge)
Friday the 12th of February
The week ends on a wild note, again the dogs are on the property racing through the bush and on the hunt. And once again Jamie and Brent are the team to catch up with them. After some intense off-roading chasing after the hyperactive hounds they make their way off the property to continue the hunt elsewhere and although their visit was brief it was as exciting as ever!
The week closes off with a sighting of one of the Birmingham Boys on Nkorho. He spent the day lazing in the shade away from the hot sun and as the last rays of light disappear behind the mountains he heads down to the freshwater pan for an evening drink.
(Birmingham male Lion, Image Credit: Nkorho Rangers, Nkorho Bush Lodge)
Monday the 15th February
A quick fast forward through the weekend as not much cat action unfolded, but that’s not to say that no action unfolded. We joined Brent on his Sunset drive with the very well fed Nkuhuma pride. They made a buffalo kill in the area last night and have fed themselves to the point of bursting. At the end of the drive we left the cats full, sleepy and content.
(Nkuhuma Pride, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 16th of February
We began the day with the still well satiated and incredibly lazy Nkuhuma ladies. It appeared they had consumed more of the prize buffalo kill during the night. When Brent arrived at the scene early on the sunrise safari he found them lazing about in the cooling shade casually glancing from here to there at any small scent or movement that piqued their interest.
Aside from the king of the beasts we had an incredibly rare and special treat from an animal that is most uncommon to find on the property. A large and stunning graceful male cheetah popped in for a visit. Presenter Scott Dyson finds this magnificent gentleman resting his long powerful legs while observing the wild from a termite mound. Initially it was thought our rare guest was a leopard but upon closer inspection the distinct black tear mark and the fighter jet styled body reveal his true species. The identity of the individual is unknown and he didn’t make any identification attempt easy as he wound his way through some rather thick bush, eventually he is lost and despite the efforts of 3 vehicles is not found again.
(Unknown Cheetah Male, Screenshot Credit: Laura Henriksson, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later that evening the cat that everyone has been talking about makes one of her star appearances. The Queen of Djuma, Karula has popped out of hiding for a visit. At this point it is still unclear as to whether or not she still has her cubs. Many debates over her behaviour being inconsistent with motherhood fly through the never ending theoretical sphere. We were unable to get a good view of her underbelly in order to suss whether or not there are clear suckle marks, so patience will have to be our friend for the time being.
(Karula Female Leopard, Screenshot Credit: Laura Henriksson, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thursday the 18th of February
The Nkuhuma pride are settling nicely back into the core territory. Scott caught up with them on the sunrise drive to discover them quenching their thirst at the Djuma pan before fun and frivolity take over. The lions run, jump and play in the rising sunlight, it has been a long time since we saw the pride so carefree and happy. It was wonderful to watch the pride as a definite sense of ‘home’ begins to settle with the lionesses. The cats eventually go flat in the sweltering morning haze of bright light. Scott eventually leaves the ladies to their daytime slumber. James returns later in the evening to find them still settled in their resting position. They were however quite alert at something moving just next to the drainage line. Brent was in the area on foot looking for the same group of cats and had caught their attention, they eventually lost interest and spent the rest of the evening conserving their much needed energy.
(Nkuhuma Pride of Lions, Screenshot Credit: Kaki Nin, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Saturday the 20th of February
A leopard trifecta today comes in the form of Karula, her daughter, Thandi and a large dominant male named Tingana. Thandi and Tingana have been mating over the past few days and James manages to find the spotted cats by listening out for their less than stealthy post mating arguments. The pair were found walking straight down the center of the road. We spent the whole drive moving with them, watching them copulate and then fiercely fighting once the deed was done.
(Thandi [front] & Tingana [back] mating leopards, Screenshot Credit: Katrina Kissinger, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Karula was located not far from the mating pair having a drink at the Djuma dam. Once her thirst was satisfied she walked off into her favourite part of the reserve, the Milawati river bed. Brent tailed her closely and indeed almost lost her when she ducked into a large erosion donga near the dam wall. She went flat there and spent the rest of the day hiding away from the African sun.
(Karula Female Leopard, Screenshot Credit: Madeleine Skeoch, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later on in the day all three cats are found again. Thandi and Tingana have now moved even closer to where Karula is. The mating is still in full swing and when Brent found the cats Thandi was hiding away in a concrete drainage pipe underneath one of the roads. Karula on the other hand had now vacated her shady spot and wandered gracefully over the Djuma dam wall and into the thickness of the Milawati river bed bush.
Sunday the 21st of February
While sunday morning was rather quiet the sunset safari with presenter Scott get’s the ball rolling with the Nkuhuma pride. They are hot, uncomfortable and flatter than pancakes. Once the day had cooled off a bit the lions started showing a little life, they yawned, stretched and engaged in a very cute allo grooming session.
(Nkuhuma Pride, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Monday the 22nd of February
Lions are definitely the flavour of the week! High action and excitement unfolded on the sunset drive this evening. The lions were hungry and on the hunt and as James entered the area where they had been spotted calls over the radio indicate that they have grabbed hold of a zebra foal. James raced into the area to find the foal on the ground and clamped between the teeth and claw of the cats. The struggle between the 5 lions and the foal is a little one sided and within about 40 minutes almost the entire carcass has been devoured.
(Nkuhuma Pride, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 23rd of February
Apparently hunting is hard and thirsty work as proved to us by the Nkuhuma pride the morning after the zebra feast. Scott catches up with the well fed ladies on the sunrise safari enjoying a long cool drink from the Djuma pan in the breaking darkness of the morning light. Once lips have been wetted the lions move north towards Galago, and eventually go flat for the day.
(Nkuhuma Pride, Screenshot Credit: Brenda M Taylor, safariLIVE, Djuma)
More incredible action was on the cards that evening. During the sunset safari one of the lioness in the Nkuhuma pride came crashing into the hyena den. All the cubs were out and about playing with everyone very relaxed until the large cat came rushing in. The hyena cubs scampered back to the den as fast as their little legs could carry them whilst the adults raced off into the bush. Once safe they took to growling menacingly at the single minded lioness. Scott managed to locate the other four members of the pride just on the other side of the drainage line where the hyena den is. They also seemed a little one-track minded as they chased a terrified sounder of warthogs through the darkening bush and straight into their own den. All 5 lioness then reunited and took turns digging half heartedly at the entrance to the warthog den, before lying down for an evening nap.
(Nkuhuma Pride, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Wednesday the 24th of February
Another fantastic morning spent with the Nkuhuma pride. Scott found them just where he left them the night before. We watched them relax for a few minutes before they were off on the hunt. Some unsuspecting nyala were the initial target but after a brief chase the antelope are gone and play time had arrived. The lions had the time of their lives pouncing on each other, climbing trees and racing through the bush. That is of course until they spotted some old buffalo bulls grazing in the distance. They went into stalk mode. Four of the lionesses disappeared into the bush while one crept slowly and carefully forward to within mere meters of the old dagga boys. As she was about to pounce the buffalo turned, snorted and hurried off before turning and doing some chasing of their own. Once the action died down the lionesses decided that fun was more valuable this morning and continued to play (watch video here) until eventually going flat just south of the buffelshoek boundary where they stayed for the rest of the day.
(Nkuhuma Lioness, Screenshot Credit: Laura Henriksson, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Scott returned to the lions on the sunset drive to see how they’d spent their day. As expected they were almost exactly as we left them, flat and sleeping under a large bush. He decided to leave them as not much action was unfolding and upon returning later they had upped and vanished across the Djuma’s northern boundary into Buffelshoek.