August has proven to be fittingly feline-friendly. WildEarth have been endlessly spoilt with our Big Cat Sightings on safariLIVE. From fierce fights to cuddling cubs, the cats have really shared with us some spectacular scenes.
Saturday 6th August
Male on the March, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma
Saturday was off to a roaring start with one of the Birmingham boys on his early morning patrols. WE tried to keep up with his movements through the thick bush as he made his way. Eventually he decided his job was done and lay beneath some shade as the morning started to heat up, but not before he gave off a few soft calls.
|Mother's Milk, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The morning wasn’t over, Brent then headed over to the lovely lionesses of the Styx pride with their eight offspring. It was definitely breakfast time for this lot, as the cubs scrambled over each other fighting for a teet, with loud cries, pushing and shoving to get into the right position.
|Sleepy Styx, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Jamie headed back that afternoon to spend some more quality time with the pride. While the Nkuhumas are definitely more pristine in coat and manner, there’s something about the scruffy Styx cubs that you just have to love.
Sunday 7th August
|Karula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma|
It was a fine feline-filled weekend. Sunday started off with the Queen of Djuma with a recent impala kill. Her majesty had just caught her prey before WE arrived and was shortly moving off, headed towards Little Gowrie; we speculated Karula was off to fetch Hosana and Xongile to bring them back to the kill site.
|Lounging Leopard, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The one and only Hayden Turner arrived on Djuma! To welcome his return, the Queen and her youngsters returned to the kill as suspected and WE got to spend all afternoon with the feline royalty. Karula had decided not to hoist the kill, as it was in quite a thick drainage, which created a little haven for the cubs to roam around and play while mum ate her share. A great start for HT!
|Lions on foot, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The bushwalk was also out and about, and it was no Sunday stroll. James and Herbert were on the tracks of the Nkuhumas. Herbert Khoza, with intuition and skill, trailed the tales of the bush, following each track and turn of the lions, with James creating a suspenseful and exciting narrative for the viewers to follow. The hard work paid off, lions on foot! The adrenalin was racing as the guides remained unseen by the tawny figures slinking through their territory. A tracking success!
Monday 8th August
|Playful Antics, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The start of a new week, WE began back at Karula and cubs. safariLIVE working with Hayden Turner and Taronga Zoo, were hosting the first Australian school drives of the week. With over 20 schools watching one the first day, the children got an amazing lesson in leopard. Karula and cubs taught the kids why WE love them so, Karula was relaxed and lay down in the drainage as Hosana boisterously bounced around, Xongile a little more reserved, put her camouflaged pelt to good use and remained concealed in the foliage.
|Follow the lioness, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
On the other vehicle, Brent was with the social cats, the Nkuhuma pride. The ladies ushered the way as the playful cubs trailed behind, stopping along the way to tackle one another and roll around on the ground. The feline family stopped for a short snooze under some shade before moving off into some dense bush to retreat from the heat of the day.
|Tree Gazing, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma|
As the light began to fade, Karula got up from where she leisurely lay and started gazing up at the trees. She was selecting a spot - she was finally going to hoist her kill. It was fascinating to watch Karula patiently pick out her tree, examining each one with intent in her eyes. After a few moments of what seemed careful decision, she picked up the carcass and with grace and agility, hoisted the remains up and onto a secure branch away from scavengers. Karula then promptly came down the tree, and a moment later, little Hosana was up investigating his meals recent move. Hosana, never one to pass on his provisions, decided to follow in his mother’s tracks and come down the tree instead, still learning the ropes of a delicate dismount, he took a little more stretch and slip to reach the ground. It was then Xongile’s turn, the little lady leaped up the tree to see the impala for herself and then made a precarious way back down to rejoin her kin.
Tuesday 9th August
|Prowling Pride, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
One lion sighting on bushwalk just wasn’t enough. It was now Brent’s turn to find the felines on foot. Herbert, ably assist by Brent, managed to track down the evasive pride. The WildEarth crew had heard the bellows of a buffalo the night before, the crying calls echoed from Galago pan, close by to the camp. A lion hunt was in motion. WE witnessed a familiar scene on arrival, a lioness hanging on the buffalo’s back, another on the tail while two others circled. The ending, however, was not to be the same. The pride grew tired and the buffalo prevailed. The predators slunk off into the dark, defeated. Throw forward to the morning, the pride were still empty bellied as James took over the sighting from Brent.
|Spotted, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Meanwhile, Karula and cubs remained a stable sighting on our safaris. This time, a new character had joined the scene - our spotted scavenger. The hyena lay below, looking up at the hanging carcass, desperately waiting for a plummeting piece of impala. The cubs stayed clear of the hyena, but carried on with their usual antics. Karula remained unperturbed by the presence of the patient hyena.
|Hosana Hangout, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
As the afternoon persisted, Hosana munching away at his tree-top meal, got a little too comfortable with the position of the hanging meat, and in one swift second, the carcass crashed to the ground. Karula was there in in a flash, another piece hit the ground, and almost the Queen herself. Hosana stared down at mother and meat, with a look of guilt and admission. Karula suddenly looked to the banks, and hastily hoisted herself and carcass as the hyena hurdled it’s way towards the fallen food. As Karula hauled up the tree, a piece of the carcass got left behind in the commotion and the hyena finally got it’s share. Patience paid off.
|Nkuhuma's by twilight, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
As the dusk settled in, Jamie found the Nkuhuma’s sitting on a termite mound. Still no sign of a successful hunt. The crepuscular cats looked content as it began to cool, contemplating the night ahead, WE left them to pursue their prey in peace.
Wednesday 10th August
|World Lion Day, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
10th of August marked World Lion Day. The day aims to highlight the plight of the apex predators and create awareness worldwide. WE celebrated the international day by spending the sunset safari with the sleepy cats. The two Birmingham boys lay by Buffelshoek dam, beneath a shady spot, completely content, they did not even bat an eyelid to the vehicles that wanted to spend time with the animals on their special day.
Thursday 11th August
|Fight Club, Screenshot Credit: , safariLIVE, Djuma|
Thursday morning brought on a fierce feline battle of the sexes. WE first found a peaceful Nkuhuma pride, with five of the cubs in tow. The pride walked along Buffelshoek cutline, cubs running on the sandy roads, ready to pounce on any passing paws. A dark figure then appeared further up the road, backlight by the rising sun. It was a male. The lionesses all stared into the distance as the figure headed towards them, another silhouetted male lion soon followed behind him. The lions then all steered off road into the bush, Jamie trailed behind. Deeper in the bush, the drama unfolded, the rumbling sounds of lions roaring overpowered the usual dawn chorus. Dust rose from the ground, as the lionesses snarled and spat at the males. The two males clashed, baring teeth and swiping claws. Jamie calm and collected in the terrifying scene speculated it was a fight over a female in estrus. The lionesses diverted the males away from the cubs, confirmation how protective and powerful a mother can be. The pride proved to be a force to be reckoned with, the dispute died down and the females and cubs moved away, while Amber eyes stayed behind with the males to distract them. WE could breathe again.
|Father and cub, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The sunset safari brought on a much softer, sweeter side from the carnivores. The Birminghams and Nkuhuma had put to rest their morning squabbles and were now one big happy family. WE even got to witness a tender scene between the males and cubs. The cubs even seemed to be a bit cheeky with the usually impatient fathers, and decided the male was their plaything for the afternoon.
Friday 12th August
|Cheetah Brothers, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Big Cat Trifecta! The weekend started early with the big cat bonanza. WE started off our morning with one of the Birmingham Boys walking down the road with Brent, but WE quickly jumped on board with James on Cheetah Plains, with our cheetah brothers. WE were so excited to see the sleek cats, it’s been quite a while since we got to spend quality time with them. The coalition were mobile towards Three-In-A-Row pan, marking their territory as they went, however, they were not showing signs of stopping any time soon, and WE soon had to leave to let others enjoy the special sighting.
|Introducing Nchila, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
That wasn’t the only special surprise of the morning, WE met a new female leopard. After much guesswork on who it could be, Tsakani, Xiluva, or Tiyani. It was announced to be Nchila Female Leopard, this is what we know about her: born in Jan/Feb 2014. Her mother is Nsele, father is thought to be Anderson Male. Littermate, one sister. Spot pattern is 4:5. The beautiful new female rested on a termite eyeing out some impala from the buffelshoek cutline boundary. She then stalked a steenbok before being spotted. She then slinked further into Buffelshoek to find another unsuspecting prey. It’s always so exhilarating to meet a new leopard and WE hope to see her again soon.
|Tingana Tree Time, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Friday was not over, our cat sightings rolled over into the sunset safari where we found Tingana on the Simbambili boundary, he was up in a tree with an impala kill that he apparently stole from Shadow and her cub. Tingana basked in the afternoon from his high perch, legs dangling in the wind, looking very content. Below lay in wait, the ever persistent hyena.
|Roar, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
The friday finale went to a Birmingham Boy. As the sun began to set, the male began to stir, a few yawns and stretches meant it was time to move, but not before he gave off a few very impressive, earth trembling roars. He stared intensely down the lens at one stage, which left a few on edge, there is something quite powerful about a lion staring deeply into your eyes.
Saturday 13th August
|The Three Nkuhumas, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma|
Saturday, Caturday. After a quiet morning, WE were a little worried that Caturday wasn’t going to live up to it’s name. But, just when you think it’s over, our feline friends come out to play. The Nkuhuma pride were found and even better, it was our first sighting of the youngest three members of the pride! The tiny tots followed their mum through the drainage, still a bit wobbly on their feet. WE can’t wait to spend more time with the cute cubs.
Sunday 14th August
|Sawing into Sunday, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
It was a snoozy sunday morning on safariLIVE, the animals decided to stay out of sight, especially the Nkuhuma pride who were spotted on the Djuma cam during the night but demonstrated their disappearing skills as soon as the sun came up. One cat decided to let us join him on his sunday stroll, Mr Tingana. WE heard his sawing during the early hours of the morning and were determined to follow up on his calls. Tingana walked over the boundary to Arathusa where he decided a termite mound would be his resting place. The dominant male leopard still has a limp, but he is looking healthy and happy.
|Cat in Camouflage, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
That snoozy sunday feeling drifted into the sunset drive, it was a beautiful balmy afternoon, an expectation of spring is starting to fill the air. Tingana was the first of our big cats to show. WE found him chewing on a piece of carcass, speculated to be a warthog as he was near a termite mound and we all know his tendencies for pig. Tingana also surprised us by vocalising in afternoon heat before getting up and managing to vanish into thin air. Jamie was alerted to the movements of the Queen Karula, she was on the hunt and moving through a thicket. WE got some brief visuals of her before she moved off our boundary.
|Cuteness Overload, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma|
A Sunday sighting should always include cuddling cubs. James spent his time with the Nkuhuma lioness and the latest three tiny cubs. Mum looked full-bellied as the three cubs suckled and played around her, exploring their surroundings and snuggling up to each other, it was the perfect sighting to end off a weekend in the wild.