The best way to start a Monday is with 8 sprightly Styx cubs. The Styx pride were making short work on their recent kudu kill at Cheetah Plains with lots of little mouths to feed. Watching lions on a kill is always a fascinating affair, but it has to be said that there’s something extra special about watching the cubs learning the ways of carcass eating etiquette, or lack thereof.
WE were lucky enough to spend the Sunrise and Sunset Safari with the Styx and by the end of the day there was a scattering of fat little bellies and settled mums.
Monday was the Styx ,Tuesday, was all about the Nkuhuma pride and their latest additions. They were located on Djuma with a kill of their own, a buffalo. WE were lucky enough to not only have the older three cubs but the three younger ones as well. It was such a privilege to watch the youngest additions join their older cousins in this spectacular sighting. Brent relished in the little lions vocalizations as they explored their surroundings and harassed both mums for milk and attention. As the sunset started to set, we left our favourite feline family to feast through the night.
Wednesday 27th July:
Wednesday kicked off with Jamie and the Nkuhumas along with a Birmingham - suspected to be the mating pair - plus the adorable three cubs. After the rains from the night before, the cubs were little balls of brown fur, being winter babies, this was their first rainy weather.
Dogs, dogs, dogs! Three wild dog presented themselves in a “log dog” manner, they remained in a static sighting allowing us to spend some quality time with the endangered Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus). Brent delighted as they rolled around and played with one another, the moment was brief, as you can’t keep a good dog down, and off they dashed.
Why not throw leopards in the midweek mix! WE found Hosana and Xongile resting on the banks of the Milwati drainage. They happily groomed, dozy in the afternoon sunlight. The Queen of Djuma, Karula took a break from the kids and let Brent watch the spotted siblings instead.
WE went back to the Nkuhumas, in a perfectly peaceful scene with suckling cubs and restful lions. We left them to snooze under the shade for the rest of the safari.
Thursday 28th July:
|Nkuhuma, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
From felines to canines, the 3 adults from the Sands Pack made a brief appearance, moving fast towards the boundary, a ferrari safari ensued as the excitement grew to get a view. WE were lucky enough to get a brief visuals before they disappeared. The predators sure kept poor Jamie on her toes.
Mother and Queen, Karula, was sighted with Xongile and Hosana during the sunset safari with a hoisted impala kill. The three banqueted on their fresh kill as we gazed upon the royal family. It’s fascinating to watch the cubs balance and coordination as they eat high up in the tree, even more so when we witness their strength as they pull the carcass into place. Such power from such small paws.
Just when things seemed to be getting quiet, Jamie visited Red Dam and out popped a familiar feline, Mr. Tingana. After a leisurely drink, Tingana still looking uncomfortable with his slight limp, meandered around the water’s edge as birds alarmed at his predator presence. A great end to another amazing safari.
Friday 29th July:
The end of another spectacular week at safariLIVE, we were spoiled once again with sightings of our spotted cats as well as our social ones, The Nkhuhumas were eager to get their weekend started, in a thick block, which created a lot of driving around for Jamie and Herbert. We spotted one Nkuhuma mother who seemed off on a mission to possibly join the pride.
|Spotted Faces, Screenshot Credit: MJ Bradley, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The Royal family, Karula and cubs were still hanging in the Milwati drainage with their hoisted impala. The success of a hoisted kill means more time to spend with the beloved cats, which meant we got our fill of felines while they filled their stomachs on both the sunrise and sunset safari.
Saturday fondly known as “Caturday” on safariLIVE, was about to fall short on it’s promise when suddenly the Caturday of all Caturday’s happened. Jamie found the Nkuhumas! Actually more like, the Nkuhumas found Jamie! And they were on the hunt! A buffalo bull with an injured eye was the target. All five Nkuhumas were positioned for the kill. The bush was thick and the chase was on. Jamie bashed through the brush trying to keep up with action. Amber eyes was suddenly on top of the buffalo, determined to stay on. Another lioness grabbed the buffalo tail. The other three circled the buffalo. The buffalo was not going down without a fight, Three lioness then four, all trying to bring the buffalo to the ground. The buffalo bellowed with distress, lionesses hung on. It was a dramatic scene, the adrenaline of watching a live kill is not for the faint hearted. One moment rooting for the buffalo to make a brave escape, the next moment knowing this is nature and the Nkuhumas have to eat. The buffalo is brought down. He continuously bellows into the now dusky evening as all five Nkuhumas try to keep him down. WE all breathe again after the long fight is over. But not for long, four of the lioness suddenly scatter in all directions. The bellows of the buffalo that echoed through the bush have brought unwanted visitors. Two Birmingham boys appear. Strangely, uninterested in the fresh meat. The lionesses returned to the kill and continued their well earned dinner while the Birminghams with full bellies themselves lurked in the shadows. It was incredible to witness such a raw and real moment in the wild.
Sunday 31st July:
Of course, The Nkuhumas were the first stop on the sunrise safari after the dramatic kill the evening before. Four of the Nkuhumas were still at the kill, along with the 3 older cubs and the two Birmingham boys. A Birmingham boy was feeding at the carcass while the lioness lay close by, the cubs were happy to run around doing their usual cute antics, WE did however notice the one cub had a bad limp to it’s back leg, WE speculated that it may have occurred from the cub getting too close to the buffalo carcass and getting a swipe from the Birmingham.
After the Birmingham had had his fill, the two lioness moved in for their breakfast. Hungry vultures sat patiently by, waiting for their moment to feed, but the Nkuhumas with their corpulent bellies were not in a sharing mood. They remained in this spot for the remainder of the day.
Monday 1st Aug:
James was back from leave and what a great welcome back he got. He started off his morning visiting Buffelshoek Dam where the mating pair of lions were enjoying the morning rays on the dam wall, he then moved on to visit the rest of the Nkuhuma pride still on their buffalo kill, along with the 4 lioness were the 3 older cubs as well as two of the Birmingham boys. James remarked on the growth of the cubs after his two week leave.
Later on the sunrise safari, Brent, Herbert and James were now searching for Karula & cubs. Herbert had found fresh drag marks going into a thicket, the search was on. An impala carcass was found stashed but no cats. Shortly after, James spotted little Hosana with a kill of his own. He proudly snacked on his freshly caught scrub hare as WE debated whether his sister could have been the true owner of the kill and this was merely stolen by sibling. Xongile was close by but decided to stay hidden. Karula was in an irritable mood, she snarled as Hosana approached and shortly got up to rid the evidence of the scrub hare, still snarling as she ate.
During the sunset safari, James went back to Karula’s spot, through the dappled light we saw a spotted figure staring back at us, it was not Karula but a male leopard. Tingana had stolen the kill from Karula and cubs and was happily munching away as the cubs watched from a distance, intrigued by the dominant male. Karula lay in some shade close by, seemingly relaxed with the whole scene.
While James had leopards, Jamie headed to Cheetah Plains to visit the Styx cubs. The 8 playful cubs were full of energy as they played in a dried up dam. The lionesses lazily looked on as the bigger cubs targeted the smaller cubs in ambling ambushes and lots of tail catching. What a way to end a Monday in the bush.
Tuesday 2nd Aug:
The sunrise safari started off with Karula slinking through the bushes in search of breakfast, unsatisfied by Tingana stealing her kill the day before. The ever evasive Karula managed to give Brent the slip on her morning hunt which lead Brent to follow up on Tingana and cubs. While mom was out, Tingana was left to babysit, which is a fascinating scenario and creates the debate of Tingana being the father of these cubs. It was only right that we spent time with Hosana and Xongile as it was their 6-month birthday, they did however remain quite hidden in the bush close to Mr T, who was basking in the morning’s apricity.
Brent found Karula and her cubs that afternoon again and Karula the ever proficient provider had caught a baby Nyala. Hosana was enjoying his new meal supplied by mum, perhaps a little too much as he even gave a cheeky hiss at Karula as she approached the carcass. Xongile, who is quickly learning the traits of her mother, stayed elusive and hidden but we were able to get a sighting of her. All was well with the royal family of Djuma.
But that was not the end of the big cat sightings that afternoon, James managed to bump into Tingana on his evening stroll, still looking rotund from his pilfered kill.
The big cats have been taking all the limelight this week, and Wednesday was no different. WE had two of the Nkhuhumas with the three older cubs. There was still a lot of concern over the one lion cub’s injury, suspected injury from rough play with a Birmingham. The cub was much more subdued than the other two. It was feeding and able to play with its siblings but no weight was put on its foot while walking. Lion cubs are resilient creatures, so it may just take time. Amber Eyes, the doting aunt, stole the show by giving one of the cubs the huggiest hug, which melted our hearts as the cub protested the lioness’s act of love.
But it wasn’t just the Nkuhumas who stole our heart during the sunrise safari, the Styx cubs decided it was their turn to shine. A fallen Marula was their stage. Eight cubs performed balancing acts on the tree stump, some finding comfortable positions, others dangling limbs. The log of little lions was the grand finale to a spectacular show.
Act two, sunset safari, the Nkuhumas were still up to their usual antics, no real change with the little limping cub, but no sign of deterioration either. A Birmingham lay further off in the distance, away from the performance of little teeth and claws. The two Nkuhumas had no time off as the cubs decided it was playtime and their prop...mum’s tail.
An action filled morning at safariLIVE with Wild dogs, Lions and Leopards, oh my!
We started off with an Nkuhuma lioness zigzagging off in a hurried pace just as the safari started. It was the lactating female, looking for her pride.
|Mating Pair, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
We then cross to James and our latest addition to the team, Xander Foster, our new cameraman spotted the mating pair of lions. Well done, Xander! They were also off on their morning missions and shortly crossed into Buffelshoek, still no mating from the pair.
|Wild Dog, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
It was all cats, until the dogs turned up. Elephants were screeching in the distance in disaprovement, it was a sign. The race to the dogs was on. James finds the dogs with faces, fresh with blood from a successful hunt. The unknown pack of three, seemed to be alert with their satellite dish ears as they left the remains of their kill, which moments later was devoured by scavenging vultures. The dogs stopped on the wall of Twin dams and started to contact call, a strange sound from their usual chittering, it was absolutely incredible to hear. The dogs headed South and left us with a grin from ear to ear.
|Shadow, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Jamie ended the drive on high by spotting Shadow, she was highly mobile and kept on the move occasionally stopping to make brief calls, was she calling for her cub? Looking very hungry and ready for a meal, we left her on her morning mission in search of our own breakfast.
After a sensational sunrise safari, James headed to Cheetah Plains in hopes of our other elusive big cat, Cheetah, but came across one of the Birmingham boys, true to his nature, he was flat, fat and fast asleep.
Brent, however, had the endlessly endearing Nkuhuma cubs along with two members of the pride, their mum and aunty Amber. We patiently waited for the little cub to get up and move, eventually it walked towards its siblings, with a great sigh of relief, the limp seems to be healing. WE are hoping for the best for this little one’s recovery.