Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Cat Report 26th March - 1st April


Saturday the 26th of March

The week is off to a promising start with Queen Karula posing as the iconic leopard. She was discovered lounging in a large marula tree with a duiker kill draped across thick and comfy boughs (watch video here). The kill was made short work of by the hungry leopardess as feeding cubs comes at the cost of precious energy. Once finished she gracefully descended, groomed her red and sticky paws before crossing the Djuma boundary south towards her new den site.

karula 26 mar pm.jpg
(Karula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)  

Sunday the 27th of March

Leopard tracks are found everywhere this morning! After checking the location of Karula’s kill and established that the new mother has not returned, Brent continues onwards. After lopping back through the Milawati drainage system he noticed fresh leopard tracks on top of his tire tracks. A few moments of on foot tracking later and we’ve had a glimpse of the cat melting into some thick bush. Soon after an impala ram’s last breaths were heard and we arrive on the scene as Tingana claimed his breakfast. Exhausted after the hunt the cat decided to take it easy in the shade lying near by his kill. Upon returning later he had begun to feed but was still enjoying a more restful afternoon, cat napping in the shade.

Tingana 27 mar pm.jpg
(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Sandy NY‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Monday the 28th of March

The Birmingham’s are back on Djuma again this week. Flat and lazy, Brent found the dominant lion coalition near the southern boundary early on the sunrise safari. The definitely looked to be in better spirits as their wounds appeared to be healing and their manes looking slightly more dapper. Brent suggested that they had maybe shared a small kill in the early morning darkness, a theory soon to be confirmed over the game drive radio. The Birmingham’s had made off with Tingana’s impala kill! No sign of the leopard was found anywhere. Later on that day it appeared as though the lions were uprooted from their deep slumber by an agitated herd of elephants. Both animals tracks were found all over the roads and thereafter crossing south, out of Djuma.

birmingham male 28 mar am.jpg
(Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Kim Powers Blackley‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the north, Jamie has caught up with two of the Nkuhuma lionesses. After some careful tracking they were spotted sleeping in some dense bush near one of the main access roads. A few minutes of skillful driving and careful position pass and we’ve managed to catch up with them right before they get mobile. They moved slowly north towards the boundary until the heat of the day got the better of them. Later on that afternoon just as the sun has set Jamie catches up with the lionesses again. This time they’re on the hunt and soon begin to stalk some hapless impala grazing up ahead. Eventually the lionesses decide it’s not worth the effort for such a small return so the spend the dying daylight minutes lying on the cool road.

nkuhuma lioness 28 mar pm.jpg
(Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Toni Dalton‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The day’s excitement doesn’t end with the lions either. To the north east of the reserve Brent has stumbled upon a very unrelaxed male leopard (watch video here). It seems he is a newcomer to the area and unused to the sight and sound of game drive vehicles. It also appears as though he has made a kill and has the carcass cashed in a nearby location. Brent decides to wait it out on the sunrise safari to see if he can get this beautiful new male leopard to relax enough for a good sighting. As the sunset drive begins Brent makes his way straight back to the sight of the new leopard sighting. A few minutes of tracking and Brent discovers the kill hidden under a bush. He then positions the vehicle some distance away but with a good visual of the carcass. Sure enough the habituation technique is paying off, this new male is happy to let us see him so long as we keep our distance.

phantom leopard 30 mar pm.jpg
(Unknown male leopard, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Tuesday the 29th of March

Karula is now on her second kill for the week. Jamie discovers the dominant female leopard hiding out in the Milawati drainage line with a fresh Nyala calf kill. The leopardess had hoisted the kill high in the limbs of a tamboti tree on the edge of the dry river. She enjoys some of her meal there before descending gracefully for a cat nap in some fresh green grass dappled by pools of soothing shade.

karula 29 mar am.jpg
(Karula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the north Brent patiently waited for the mysterious phantom leopard to show up again. The young male has now hoisted his kudu calf kill into a nearby tree making it easier to park at a distance with a good view. Brent spends the afternoon in the area chatting with camera operator Wium in audible voices, this aids in the process of habituation because the unrelaxed animal then becomes used to the sights and sounds associated the game drive vehicles. Brent elaborates on this process further by explaining that the chances of seeing this new leopard will increase as darkness falls. Leopards are often more relaxed in the dark and sure enough as the shadows grow and the sun disappears Brent spots him peering from the forked trunk from which his kill dangles. He reposition the kill and then takes up a comfortable sitting position and grooming for an extended period of time.

Gijima, 29 mar pm John Gerry.jpg
(Unknown male leopard, Screenshot Credit: John Gerry, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday the 30th of March

The phantom has now vanished, Brent searched the area where the new male was spotted with his kill the day prior, he then spots the big cat sprinting from the block across the eastern boundary. Aside from two hyaena’s there is also a herd of elephants, it’s no surprise then as to why the lone cat decided is was time to move on. Later that same morning The dominant male leopard on Djuma, Tingana walks through the same area. It is unclear if Tingana also played a role in young phantom’s disappearance, nevertheless, Tingana scent marks a few times before going completely flat in the warm late summer day. That afternoon Brent manages to catch up with the big male again. He’s flat for the majority of the afternoon, but as the sun set over the mountains he yawned, stretched, gave his deep rasping call and proceeded to patrol his territory. No detail was left unspared as Tingana remarked his portion of Djuma to warn any would-be interlopers.

Tingana 30 march pm.jpg
(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Not far from Tingana, Jamie found Karula just after she had crossed back into Djuma from the south. After some meandering about Karula eventually makes her way to the Nyala kill stashed in the milawati draingeline. Upon arrival she lay in the shade recuperating her energy for the intimidating jump she would need to make to retrieve her food. Eventually and with great effort she fetches the tiny carcass down before devouring the remains at an incredibly rapid rate.

karula 30 mar pm.jpg
(Karula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Thursday the 31st of March

Tingana has been found again this morning and is in for some high action. Brent catches up with the dominant male leopard while he was out and about on patrol. He scent marks a few times before making off across our northern boundary. Soon after a report comes over the game drive radio saying that the big male leopard has chased a young male leopard north and out of the sabi sands! Tingana then made a hasty return to Djuma where Brent was on standby waiting, he tailed the big cat through some dense vegetation and eventually came to a stop where Tingana has hidden a large warthog carcass. The big male then proceeded to feast on his breakfast until eventually falling asleep at the end of the sunrise safari. Later on that afternoon he is found fat and flat, well fed and content after his early morning meal.

tingana 31 mar pm.jpg
(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the east of the dominant male leopard are the 5 dominant male lions, the Birmingham coalition. The 5 lions spend the afternoon sleeping in the shade, escaping the heat of the day. Under the cover and cool of darkness they headed off on the hunt, their empty bellies as proof of their hunger.

birmingham male 31 mar pm.jpg
(Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

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