Friday, 28 October 2016

The Cat Report 21 - 28 October

Friday the 21st of October

The week kicked off with not one, not two but three big cat sightings! First up was the Nkuhuma pride, all five lionesses were present with their eight fluffy cubs. Two of the Birmingham males were also present. Both Tinyo and Mfumo had singled out their own lioness and fiercely growled at each other in masculine protection. The rest of the pride was in the mood to take it easy and slept away the warm summer afternoon.

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(Amber Eyes Nkuhuma and Tinyo, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Next up was the stunning and rarely seen leopardess, Xiluva. She had made a small duiker kill on Djuma’s most northern boundary. Jamie spent same great quality time with the perfectly rosetted beauty until she eventually moved off north and out of sight.

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(Xiluva, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎

Yet the leopard luck did not end there. On the opposite side of the reserve Jamie found herself in the presence of the great queen, Karula. As usual her royal highness was up and about pacing through the bush while she marked territory and kept a keen, sharp eye out for anything tasty to eat. Eventually Karula pulled another stunning disappearing act as she wove her way into a thick drainage line.

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(Queen Karula on her afternoon rounds, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The African big cat trifecta was completed with a sighting of the two cheetah brothers on Cheetah Plains. The two spotted speedsters were fat, flat and relaxed. From the protrusion of their rotund bellies they had clearly enjoyed a large meal. Once the sun had disappeared behind the western horizon the brothers were up and northbound across the wide open plains. Alarm calls resounded in the twilight air as herds of impala, wildebeest and zebra marched sternly after Africa’s fastest land mammal. Soon the brothers melted into the darkness and out of sight.

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(Cheetah relaxing in the sunset light, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)

Saturday the 22nd of October

Another action packed caturday welcomed the safariLIVE crew. The first covert cat to be discovered was Amber Eyes in the company of one of the Birmingham males, Mfumo. It seemed Tinyo had given up on the fierce eyed lioness and his brother was not attempting to woo her. They copulated twice before disappearing into the shade of a thick drainage line in escape from the building heat of the day.

5 Amber eyes and Mfumo 22 Oct AM.jpg
(Amber Eyesna dn Mfumo enjoy a vulture view together, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Later that afternoon all of the Nkuhumas were together once again. The only male present was the very grumpy looking Tinyo. The lions remained flat and sleepy for most of the afternoon, that was until a very unfortunate buffalo stumbled across Africa’s largest predatory cat. Tayla heard the panicked distress calls and raced to the sighting just as it was all over. The cubs, lionesses and dominant male were already tucking into the beefy dinner with relish. Tayla eventually left as all light was lost.

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(Nkuhuma cub resting on top of a buffalo, Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎

Not far from the Nkuhuma pride Xiluva was still resting near her carcass on the Buffelshoek boundary. She remained fairly static and rather flat for the entirety of the day. Eventually she rose and moved off a little ways north before coming to a rest on a termite mound.

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(Xiluva aka “The flower” resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Sunday the 23rd of October

The morning started overcast and gloomy with the threat of imminent rain. Yet no precipitation appeared and the morning continued in stuffy humidity. First stop was the Nkuhuma pride, still stuck in their beefy breakfast. The lions fed ravenously before eventually collapsing in piles of fluff stained with blood. The cubs played with pieces of discarded carcass while the adults lazed about in the close morning air. Later that afternoon the lions were found by Tayla resting up in a shady patch near Buffelshoek dam. Their rest however was rudely interrupted by a large elephant bull who wished to make his way down to the water for a drink. The standoff between the pride and the elephant was brief and intense, as he approached the lions made a quick escape. The elephant then passed and all was at peace once again. As the sunset the lions made their way to the water’s edge for a drink.  

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(Hungry Nkuhuma pride feasting on buffalo, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Far removed from the familiarity of the Nkuhuma pride was a spotted mystery. The game drive radio burst forth with reports of an unknown leopard on Djuma. Tayla made her way over to check out the enigmatic newcomer. After much debate and a few wild guesses eventually her identity was uncovered. It turns out this young leopardess is known as the Young Ingrid’s Dam female. If these rumors do indeed turnout to be true she has wandered a long way from the southern section of the Sabi Sand. She spent the morning in an iconic pose, splayed across the thick sturdy boughs of a large marula where she surveyed the goings on around her.

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(Young Ingrid’s Dam female leopard resting in a marula tree, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎

Monday the 24th of October

Chaos reigned over the eastern sections of Djuma on this cloudy morning. The lions were having a field day with the buffalo. First, Byron found the Birmingham male known as Mfumo along with two Nkuhuma lionesses, they managed to bring down a small buffalo calf. Mfumo stuck around to finish the job while the lionesses continued their stalk across the eastern boundary. Meanwhile Tayla had caught up with the rest of the pride just to the west of the first kill. The three adult lionesses and eight cubs made their way intently towards the bellowed cries of distress. Along the way they stumbled upon an old buffalo carcass that was infested with waves upon wave of squirming white maggots. Lions are not usually fussy about their meals, this however was an exception, they turned up their noses and continued east. Not five minutes later they stumbled upon a collapsed and dying buffalo. His bellows wrought the air as the lions began to feed. Yet their interest in an easy and fresh kill dwindled soon after as yet more buffalo bellows echoed through the woodland. The lions once again began their steady journey east and soon crossed out of Djuma and into Torchwood.

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(The Nkuhuma pride on their way east, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Tuesday the 25th of October

After a loud and stormy night the safariLIVE crew headed out for another fantastic morning in the northern Sabi Sand. Up first was a thrilling and high intensity dog chase. Thats right, the Lower Sabi pack was back! Although the sighting was fleeting it was still a tremendous treat to spend some time with the African Wild Dog. The three prancing pups dashed through the wilderness keeping up a steady trot. As soon as they appeared they had once again disappeared off our traverse.

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(Lower Sabi wild dog pack, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The dogs however weren’t our only surprise for the morning. Once again the fabulous Herberth had managed to track down the lions. Byron made his way to the sighting just in time to spend the last five minutes of the sunrise safari with Africa’s apex cat predator. All five of the Nkuhuma lionesses were present with their eight cubs, all safely tucked away in cool and shady drainage line. As so the lions remained, fast asleep for the rest of the day. When Byron caught up with them on the sunset safari their eyes were tightly shut and their paws rested.

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(Mfumo aka “The Authority” resting up in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday the 26th of October

The well rested lions soon put their conserved energy to good use however. The Nkuhuma pride had once again brought down yet another buffalo in the darkest hours of the night. Roars could be heard booming out across the land in triumph. By the time Tayla had caught up with them on the sunrise safari they were already well tucked into their meal. The eight fluffy terrors fed and played with youthful exuberance while the adults nibbled here and there or slept after a long hard buffalo battle. Later that afternoon the cubs were clearly energised by the beefy breakfast they had enjoyed. They played constantly around the sleepy adults. Once the sun had set and the sky began to turn an inky blue, the lions made their way down to the dam for a long refreshing drink.

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(Brave Nkuhuma cub pounces on Tinyo, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Thursday the 27th of October

Love was in the air as the summer sun rose over the lowveld. Tinyo and Amber Eyes were found having an early morning drink at the Djuma pan. Once their thirst was quenched the lions had a little sniff around before making their way west. En route they passed both the lodge and the safariLIVE crew camp where they spent some time pondering James’s golf net. Once they had moved on the lionesses keen, deep orange eyes spied some unawares nyala browsing in some thick bush. She flattened her body to the ground and very nearly ended the young life of a tiny, fluffy nyala lamb. The youngster managed to escape the jaws of the lion this time and the big cats moved off into some cool shady thickets. Later that afternoon you couldn’t shake a stick at any bush without a lion jumping out of it! During the heat of the day a few of the lions were spotted having a drink at the dam. Byron made his way to the area and managed to catch up with two Nkuhuma lionesses and Mfumo, another one of the Birmingham males. The lionesses greeted each other and then continued on their way in opposite directions. The amorous pair kept on their path westwards. Soon they came upon yet another dead buffalo. They spent some time nibbling on the old carcass before heading off into yet more thickets. Just when Byron thought his lion sightings had come to and end, Amber Eyes popped out of nowhere and headed down to the galago pan for a drink just as the evening began to darken.

Amber eyes 27 oct PM.jpg
(Amber Eyes having a refreshing drink, Screenshot Credit: Marieke van Nistelrooij‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Yet the lions were not the only cat’s on the prowl today. To the west on Arathusa Tayla managed to catch up with a new leopardess in the area, the young Ingrid’s Dam female. This time she was discovered in the most iconic of leopard poses - sprawled across the wide and comfy bough of a massive marula tree, she spent the morning cat napping in the most spectacular fashion. Tayla wasn’t able to stay with the stunning newcomer too long as she had to make room for other eager safari goers.

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(Young Ingrid’s dam female sleeping soundly, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

Far removed from this leopardess in the west was Tingana on the eastern boundary of Djuma. Tayla had a brief sighting of him in the morning before he disappeared into a thick drainage. That afternoon however, the big handsome cat had positioned himself in a far more convenient viewing location. He rested for the majority of the day while furiously flicking his tail and lashing out with his massive canines at the cloud of flies swarming around his head. His irritation and frustration was palpable as he constantly swatted out. Once the sun had set and the day had cooled he slowly ambled his way towards the southern boundary, still swatting frustratedly.

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(Hot and bothered Tingana resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Friday the 28th of October

More spotted luck this morning in the far east on Cheetah Plains. Quarantine male had been spotted and Tayla made her way over to investigate. Upon her arrival an incredibly unique scene played out. Quarantine was not alone, Inkanyeni was pacing around him growling softly and flicking her tail in irritation. It was clear from her behaviour that she was not fond of this youngster from the west intruding into her territory and potentially threatening her ten month old cubs. It seemed the two leopards had also engaged in a little spat before WE found them. Inkanyeni had a fresh gash just above her right paw that was bleeding freely. She tended to the wound when she could. Eventually Quarantine began to make his way further southeast before eventually crossing into Mala Mala. Inkanyeni followed him closely and we eventually lost sight of them.

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(An irritated Inkanyeni keeps a close eye on Quarantine, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)

Back in the heart of Djuma the lions had been found. Stef was out on bushwalk looking for all manner of interesting creepies and crawlies when he heard the lion calling not far from his position. He made his way carefully towards them and soon enough two Nkuhuma lionesses and one Birmingham male poked their heads out of a bush and watched him carefully. Stef then called Byron in on the vehicle before moving off. Once Byron was in the sighting the lions stretched and made their way to a nearby pan. They had a brief drink before disappeared into a shady thicket to escape the heat of the day.

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(Nkuhuma lioness making her way past the vehicle, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

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