Friday the 23rd of December
This weeks cat report couldn’t have kicked off in a better way. Queen Karula and her two cubs Hosana and Xongile were found sharing a family meal on the southern boundary of Djuma. Karula basked on the cool sand while Xongile fed and Hosana looked on. Once Xongile had eaten her fill it was the little prince’s turn - he tucked into what was left, gobbling down as much as he could.
(Hosana deciding where to place a kill, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Slightly to the east, Thandi, one of Karula’s daughters, was found resting in a tall marula tree. She spent the better part of the afternoon fast asleep with her eyes shut to the blazing afternoon heat. Eventually we left Thandi as she showed very little interest in do anything other than cat napping.
(Thandi reclining in a tall marula, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Saturday the 24th of December
WE spent another great morning with the royal family. At first Karula was discovered calling and sawing in the Milwati drainage line. Soon the cubs came bounding through the thick undergrowth to join her. The sleek spotted felines then made their way to twin dams for a morning drink before disappearing for the morning over the southern boundary. Later that afternoon however, WE found Hosana and Xongile relaxing next to their favourite pan at twin dams. Hosana resumed his most favourite activity of terrapin hunting while his sister lounged about at the water’s edge. The two young leopards tumbled about for a bit before eventually settling down.
(Xongile stands before a huge marula tree, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To the far east on Cheetah Plains a large and not so fluffy surprise lay in wait for the safariLIVE crew. After a long hiatus from the limelight, it was about time that the Styx pride returned. WE only got a view of two of the big lionesses as they lounged about near the Cheetah Plains lodge. There was no sign of the third lioness or cubs. Eventually we left the flat cats in search of other African critters.
(Styx lioness panting heavily in the heat, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Monday the 26th of December
Another treat to the east as we caught up with the Styx pride again. This time all three lioness and their two precious cubs were in attendance. They were also accompanied by two of the Birmingham males. Nsuku lay flat and sleeping in the shade of a dense bush while Mfumo approached the others with caution, he too eventually went flat under a nearby bush. The cubs suckled hungrily for the majority of the afternoon. Although they are strong and healthy, there is still some evidence of mange on their speckled fluffy coats.
(Proud Styx lioness with her two little cubs, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Not far from where the Styx were lying up Inkanyeni and her young male cub Votumi were enjoying a few Christmas dinner leftovers. Inkanyeni was perched high in a marula tree, she watched over her hungry cub with pride as he steadily devoured what was left of their impala kill. Once there was nothing more of the kill left, Inkanyeni and Votumi set off into the sunset.
(Young Votumi giving us his best and most cheeky grin, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
The action wasn’t only in the east however, to the west on Arathusa the Nkuhuma pride had been found. All five lionesses and their six cubs were also enjoying the remains of their Christmas feast. The young buffalo carcass was almost completely consumed and the pride waddled from shady patch to shady patch, their beachball sized stomachs swaying rhythmically in time with their steps. Eventually all cats went flat for the afternoon clearly getting over their Christmas food hangovers!
(Nkuhuma lioness takes a long drink at Red dam, Screenshot Credit: Marieke van Nistelrooij, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Tuesday 27th of December
Another roaring start to the morning as lions leapt from every bush! To the east on Cheetah Plains WE once again caught up with the Styx pride and one Birmingham male. This was unfortunately a long distance sighting as the cats were lying up on the vast open space just to the south of Cheetah Plains in Mala Mala. The cats remained flat and unmoving for the majority of the morning. The Birmingham male accompanying them was too far off for proper identification yet he did briefly show some amorous intent before being totally ignored by one of the lionesses. There was unfortunately no sign of the two cubs.
(A long distance view of the Styx pride enjoying a morning lie in, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Back on Djuma WE had a heart racing run in with one of the Birmingham males on foot. WE could clearly hear him calling out to his coalition mates and hurried to catch up with him. The bushwalk team eventually spotted him lying up in a dense thicket before he slowly rose and disappeared into a very thick block. Due to the distance of the sighting and the thickness of the bush WE were unable to find out exactly which Birmingham male we were looking at.
(A well concealed Birmingham male hiding from the bushwalk team, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Finally the Nkuhuma pride had been found once again on Arathusa. We spent a good deal of time with our favourite lions as they relaxed in a post Christmas stupor. Their stomachs were still full to bursting with their beefy feast. The lions napped soundly in the damp morning air, only bothering to move every now and then to a more suitable spot of shade.
(Nkuhuma lionesses resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Cheetah Plains lived up to it’s name with a sighting of the unnamed Cheetah coalition. The two brothers seemed a little less relaxed than usual, although was most likely due to the presence of the lions lying on the wide open plains. The brother’s lay peacefully on a termite mound before re-marking their territory and then moving off into a dense thicket.
(Cheetah brothers mark their territory, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
A little further north but still in the heart of Cheetah Plains, Inkanyeni had been found gracing the boughs of a tall marula tree. She epitomized the term “cat nap” as she slept the afternoon away soundly. Aside from the odd ear twitch and paw reposition she stayed completely still. Eventually we left the super flat cat in search of Africa’s other incredible animals.
(An exhausted Inkanyeni naps the afternoon away in a tree, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, CHeetah Plains)
Wednesday the 28th of December
The day kicked off on a quiet note. Right until the last minutes of the sunrise safari it didn’t look like WE were going to see anything both hairy and scary but that quickly changed as WE got a long distance view of the cheetah brothers lying up and resting on the open plains of Mala Mala. The cats were flat and resting up in the shade out of the blazing morning sun.
Thursday the 29th of December
Morning dawned steely grey, windy and wet as drizzle fell gently upon the wilderness. The lions were vocal as the muffled light began to creep up the eastern horizon. WE spent the better part of the safari tracking the tawny cats with very little success. Only minutes before the sunrise drive came to a close WE were notified over the radio that the lions had just killed a buffalo on our northern boundary. WE made it there with only minutes to spare as the Nkuhuma pride began to tuck into the beefy breakfast.
(Lonely Nkuhuma lioness waits in the rain for the rest of her pride, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Friday the 30th of December
Another dreary wet start to the morning, but at least the Nkuhuma lioness from the day before was no longer alone in the rain! That’s right, the rest of the pride had finally joined her at her hard won buffalo kill. When we arrived all five of the Nkuhuma lionesses were feasting on their beefy breakfast along with their six very hungry and troublesome cubs. The lions growled and swatted at each other as they fed displaying their famous table manners. Eventually most of the lions were satiated and it was time for a nap in the foliage and away from the rain.
(Soggy Nkuhuma cub about to tuck into her breakfast, safariLIVE, Djuma)