Thursday the 26th of May
The Queen is on Djuma yet again. As the greyness of the dark winter morning begin to lift Brent found himself checking the southern boundary for any sign of the secretive leopardess. Low and behold there she was, drinking out of a puddle left in the middle of the road after a brief pre-dawn shower. The movement of some impala rams then caught the Queens eye, being a cat, she would never let an opportunity to hunt go unexploited. She slunk back across the boundary and melted into the autumn colours of the bush. Despite waiting patiently for the death cry of an impala, Brent eventually decided to leave the royals to their business.
(Karula, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Pangolins are considered one of the most threatened and endangered species in Africa and across the globe. Although it’s not a furry feline, the excitement of capturing one of these shy and elusive animals for the first time LIVE was palpable! The unusual looking creature appeared to be out on the forage as she scuttled across the Kruger boundary from Cheetah Plains. Her snout rummaged through the undergrowth seeking out her favourite food, the pugnacious ant, until Brent & Dave eventually lost sight of her. With the dry season now in full swing, hopes remain high that WE will have more incredible sightings like this in the future (watch video here)!
(Pangolin, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Friday the 27th of May
The lovely lion ladies are back! Jamie managed to catch up with three of the Nkuhuma pride lionesses on Arathusa. WE found the lions mid-hunt and surrounded by a tired and harassed buffalo breeding herd. The Nkuhuma’s are famous for their patience and slowly wore down the herd by rushing in and scattering the behemoth bovids. In the pandemonium no opportunity was missed to leap on the back of a fatigued buffalo. Unfortunately the famished felines were unsuccessful in their hunting attempts (watch video here). Instead the lionesses decided to pounce and play with each other before taking a much needed nap. Upon returning to the area later on during the sunset safari Jamie found the cats still comatose. They remained in this sleep state until WE eventually left in search of animals who were actually active.
(Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Saturday the 28th of May
It was a quiet start to the east as the sun began to cut through the cold morning mist. Brent had stopped at the Cheetah Plains pan to enjoy the peace and grace of a giraffe sighting. Soon the the giraffe demonstrated its tremendous height advantage. She stared intently into the thickets and soon the object of her wrapped attention revealed itself loping pointedly towards the pan. A lone Birmingham male was striding lion in an ethereal glow of morning haziness. He stopped briefly for a morning drink and then continued his determined way north. Every now and again stopping to call out to his coalition mates. Eventually the mist evaporated and left only the discomfort of the burning african light. He went flat in the nearest shade available and there he remained until the final minutes of the sunrise safari.
(Birmingham male lion, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
To the north west it seemed the Nkuhuma’s had momentarily gotten over the extreme exhaustion and were found resting up near Sydney’s Dam in the early hours. The cats once again remained entirely static for the duration of the sighting. However, once the sunrise safari had ended a new twist to the lion’s tale presented itself. Pictures had emerged on Facebook of the pride in the presence of a very impressive but still developing young male. No one could be left in any doubt that this young male was in fact Junior. Later on as the sun vanished to the west the Nkuhuma ladies were found yet again, movement had clearly not been an option during the day. Heads still glued to the african soil and eyes tight shut, it took not one, but two big buffalo breeding herds to rouse them. The massive black buffs slowly made their way to the water's edge, one herd streaming in from the south while another poured in a constant stream over the dam wall to the north. The lionesses hunting instinct instantly engaged, each of the three lionesses stood poised and ready to strike. The atmosphere thick with anticipation, would Junior charge over the dam wall and body tackle a buffalo into the dam when the lionesses made their move? The answer was a definite no, the lionesses once again demonstrated their patient experience waiting for the best opportunity. That opportunity however did not fall before the northern herd of buffalo flowed back over the dam wall. A column of dust rose in the distance as the herd bulldozed the bush ahead of them, the lions in turn followed and in doing so left us behind.
(Nkuhuma lionesses, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Sunday the 29th of May
Clearly feeling left out of the action, the proud new Nkuhuma mother made her way west this morning. She crossed into Djuma shortly before the end of the sunrise safari, reports had indicated that she was in the process of moving her three new additions to the pride. Although her little ones remained on Torchwood her presence across the boundary is a great indication that WE will soon catch a glimpse of the latest Nkuhuma cubs. Motherhood is a tough job, her empty belly as a testament to this, it was clear she was on the hunt. With stalk mode engaged she slunk into the dry yellow grass, her tawny coat blending perfectly. We stayed as long as we could see her black tail tip winding through the bush until eventually not even that was visible.
(Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To the east the bush newspaper was a buzz this morning with reports indicating a fresh leopard kill right behind the Cheetah Plains lodge. Jamie made her way their on the wings of Rusty, only to find out that the kill was in a significant signal gremlin nest. Disappointed Jamie made her way around the reserve searching for anything even half as interesting. But luck was on her side as the leopardess eventually decided to move away from the fresh bushbuck carcass. Clearly not wanting to lose her summer tan Jamie found Thandi sunbathing on a wide flat rock.
(Thandi, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Another spot of luck on the sunset safari as WE managed to catch up with Karula on a fresh impala kill. The Queen enjoyed her lunch in the dense shade of a weeping wattle thicket, every now and then giving off the odd hiss. Although WE had no view of her cubs, Brent’s cat like ears managed to pick up on the odd contact call from the young prince and princess and mom gorged herself. Eventually it was time to leave the sighting, unfortunately the cubs only came creeping out of their hiding spots much later in the afternoon, but rest assured both are happy, healthy and growing bigger by the day.
(Karula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 31st of May
At long last, a sighting WE have all been wondering about since the first reports of the Styx cubs. Both proud mother lionesses have been found on Cheetah plains, Brent arrived just as the early morning dimness finally gave in to the glaring sunlight. The lionesses seemed to be on a bit of a “mom’s day out,” as both mothers reclined, sunning themselves in the peaceful ambiance. Clear suckle marks were visible on both lionesses rotund bellies, fresh blood on their pale facial fur evidence of a good and recent meal. The new mom’s spent their morning getting some much needed and well deserved r&r before moving off sometime during the day, most likely back to the den sites and the nagging attentions of little cubs.
(Styx lioness, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)