Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Cat Report 20 - 26 August

Saturday the 20th of August

The day began bright and quiet on Djuma. After a sunrise safari spent following tracks all over the reserve the safariLIVE crew headed out in the afternoon with low expectations. Yet this is the wild and you never know what’s going to happen. A fact made true by the materialisation of a lioness at Buffelshoek dam. The Nkuhuma mother was padding her way across the dam wall before heading down into the cooling respite of a thick and shady drainage line. As she did so she began to call out in low gentle tones and soon 3 tiny tawny teddy-like lion cubs waddled out of the thick bush. The bounded and played taking it in turns to pounce on mom’s tail. Soon another 2 little terrors joined in the cub melee and all 5 lions began to make their way steadily north. Eventually they crossed out of our traverse to join the rest of the pride and although the sighting was brief it was nothing less than incredible!

1 Nkuhuma cubs 20 Aug PM.jpg
(Nkuhuma cubs, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Sunday the 21st of August

Dawn broke warm and bright as the end-of-winter sun begins to warm to it’s summer intensity. Leopard tracks littered the roads of Djuma, Brent and James did all they could to catch up with the covert cats yet to no avail. That afternoon however our luck changed as the Queen herself decided to make an appearance. Karula has pulled off another stunning appearing act and spent her afternoon roaming the drainage line right behind the lodge and within view of the safariLIVE crew camp! The wild is rough place to live and the queen appeared to have fallen victim to a vicious thorn attack. Leopards however, are tough animals and Karula is one of toughest, a few thorns won’t bother her for long! Karula kept the action low this afternoon as she enjoyed a refreshing drink and then reclined in dappled winter sunlight. Soon she made her back into the heart of the drainage and just as Brent was leaving the sighting he caught a glimpse of her leaping with extreme agility over the Vuyatela fence! Perhaps the Queen was on her way to enjoy a spot of high tea on the Vuyatela lodge deck.

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

Monday the 22nd of August

Sleep time is an incredibly important time and very highly valued amongst the safariLIVE crew. Yet with hungry, hunting lions about this can become challenging. The night time peace was torn by booming roars and distressed bellows as the Nkuhuma pride and Birmingham males managed to secure another buffalo kill. Brent and James headed out in the predawn calm focussed and intent on finding the cacophonous cats! Soon enough the kill site was discovered and James picked his way into the block to discover 4 of the Nkuhuma lionesses, 5 of their precious little cubs and 2 of the Birmingham males. The lionesses were feeding indulgently while the males, already full to the point of bursting, slept soundly under some nearby shrubbery. Lions are not exactly famed for their good manners and demonstrated this beautifully as the lionesses growled committed warnings at each other while they fed. The 5 cubs watched hopefully from a distance, unsure of whether or not to join in the morning feast for fear of being reprimanded by an angry aunty. Their little teddy-like faces were already drenched in blood yet cute would not be a sufficient enough word to describe just how precious their bloody appearance made them. After a few more tiny nibbles on the carcass it was time to explore, the 5 little trouble makers scampered about sniffing and chewing on anything that dared move. Eventually they joined their beachball shaped parents for a much needed morning cat nap. Such was the order of the day for the lions. After eating themselves into veritable coma’s the cats spent the afternoon sleeping off their beefy breakfast while the cubs snoozed and suckled gently late into the windy and dusty late winter evening.

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(Nkuhuma lioness with older cub, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Tuesday the 23rd of August

The morning kicks off with the Nkuhumas, their cubs and the Birmingham males all still enjoying their buffalo buffet. Upon arrival at the sighting one of the Birmingham males was making short work of what remained of the day old carcass. All 5 Nkuhuma lionesses were present and accounted for as were all 8 of the cubs. The 8 little terrors spent the morning pouncing on each other and the adults before settling down for a nourishing drink from the 3 lactating lionesses. A few squabbles ensued over who got the best suckle position but soon the scene calmed and the cats rested peacefully in the little shade provided by a leafless tree. It would also seem as though one of the Nkuhuma lionesses is in oestrous, every move she made was closely shadowed by one of the Birmingham males. He wouldn’t let her out of his sight and made sure he was constantly at her side displaying what could only be described as lion chivalry. Eventually all the cats decided it was time for their most favourite activity, sleep. WE left the sighting as the vultures began to arrive, the lions tossed unimpressed looks at the great avian scavengers who had so rudely barged in on breakfast, completely uninvited! As fate would have it, the lions made short work of their buffalo kill and pride member went their separate ways. All of the cubs and 3 of the Nkuhuma lionesses made their way west while Amber-Eyes and one other lioness escorted the Birmingham males to the Galago water hole. The amourous pairs relaxed at the water’s edge drinking at their leisure, although no mating occurred the interest displayed by the males indicated the females were soon to be in oestrous. WE left the scene in the darkening twilight as the lions slowly wound their way north through some particularly vicious thickets.

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(Little Nkuhuma cub yawning, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the west a different story played out. Tingana, the dominant male leopard on Djuma and Arathusa had been found resting up in the shade of the Marakeni drainage line. The impressive male leopard had recently stopped mating with Shadow, a very interesting development as it could possibly indicate that Shadow had lost her only remaining cub. Yet reports from various sources stated that Shadow’s 5 month old cub is indeed alive and well. Perhaps this information will bring us one step closer to understanding Shadow’s failure to successfully raise a cub to independance. Nevertheless Tingana found himself alone and in his element as he slept away the warm morning hours. Barely moving, save for the odd glance in our direction, he remained flatter than “flat earth theory.” Eventually we moved out of the sighting to allow other safari goers to enjoy a viewing of the dominant spotted feline.

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

Wednesday the 24th of August

The return of another safariLIVE favourite today. Shadow, the dominant female leopard to the west has been found deep on Arathusa. It would seem that she made a successful impala kill, yet the way of the wild is often harsh and unfair. A marauding group of hyaena’s had stolen her freshly hunted breakfast leaving her with only the most unappetising titbits. A look of sheer disgust was etched on her face as she attempted to eat her way around barely digested grass materials still remaining in the stomach. But Shadow’s poor luck only deepened further with the discovery of a large fresh gash on her back right leg. The open and weeping wound did not hider the slender leopardess in the slightest, just another lesson from the school of hard knocks. The question of her cub’s where abouts is also still pressed tightly on many concerned lips. Although there have been reports of her cub being alive and well there is yet to be a confirmed sighting of the mother and daughter pair together again.

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

Thursday the 25th of August

Early morning sunrays split the skies over Djuma and cast their crepuscular light over the Vuyatela pan. Soon the scene was littered with lions as all 5 Nkuhumas, their 8 cubs and 2 of the Birmingham males strode purposefully towards the pan for an early morning drink. Once there, the cubs lapped eagerly while the lionesses kept a careful eye out. One of the youngest cubs displayed exceptional courage as it wandered further away from the safety of the pride apparently transfixed by the little lion reflection displayed in the glassy water. Eventually mom ambled over and encouraged the naughty little monster to stay away from the water, yet her efforts were in vain. The little cub insisted on venturing to the water’s edge and a scene not dissimilar from one you may encounter in a supermarket sweet isle played out. The little cub growled and complained as mom lifted it in her exceptionally gentle yet fierce jaws and forced the tiny fuzz ball into safety. More growls and complaints soon followed and as a show of independence the cub marched straight into the water, only to discover, to its horror, that water is indeed wet (watch video here)! Once the tawny cats had quenched their morning thirst they retreated into the sunlight shielding shade of the drainage line behind the Vuyatela dam wall. Here they remained until they were convinced the sun had truly vanished from the sapphire blue African skies. The pride then repeated their morning movements making a beeline for the vuyatela pan. This time however, the lions found themselves at eye level with a grumpy hippo bull who snorted and sprayed his displeasure as he found himself surrounded by 15 lions! The pride then slowly meandered their way into the darkness of the gathering night.

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(Nkuhuma lioness shepherding a naughty cub, Screenshot Credit: Marieke van Nistelrooij‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Lions were not the only spot of luck WE had today. Once Africa’s apex cat had gone well and truly flat Brent decided a dry river bed cruise was in order. As he weaved his way along the Milawati drainage he paused to have a look at some rather fresh female leopard tracks, a few meters ahead he then found 2 sets of fresh little leopard cub tracks. A couple more meters and a well timed glance upwards lead to the discovery of Karula, Xongile and of course the not so little anymore Hosana. All three perfectly rosetted felines were fat and flat after snacking on a recently perished baby duiker, courtesy of the queen herself. By the time Brent went back to the scene on the sunset safari the covert cats had moved off and not a trace of the kill remained. He then found Karula’s tracks crossing out of Djuma to the south, but the lack of cub tracks indicated that the royal youngsters were still stashed on Djuma somewhere!

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(Queen Karula, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Friday the 26th of August

To say the WE have been spoiled with lion sightings recently would be a gross understatement. Roars boomed out in full surround sound as the safariLIVE crew prepped for the start of the sunrise safari. Not 5 minutes after leaving camp Brent had already caught up with the noisy culprits. Once again, all 5 Nkuhuma lionesses, their 8 terrible terrors and 2 of the Birmingham males were taking it easy in the gentle morning light. The cubs scampered about and played with boundless energy, fascinated by every dry twig and blade of grass that fell in their path. Lying out in the open however is only as good when there is no direct sunlight and as soon as the white hot orb had risen the cats were up and into the thickets, seeking shady shelter. Brent followed as best he could until he lost the main body of the pride to a particularly nasty block. He then picked his way out to the nearest road upon which he caught up with an unimpressed Amber-Eyes being closely tailed by one of the Birmingham males. Amber along with the youngest of the Nkuhuma lionesses appear to be coming into oestrous hence the amorous males devoted attention. This has been a source of tension in the Nkuhuma pride as the males intentionally block the lionesses from greeting or even touching their fellow pride mates resulting in the odd growl and swat off. But as the mercury rose the cats fell into their daily slumber. Brent eventually left in search of any more action.

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(Nkuhuma lioness with two cubs, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The lion luck certainly seems to be on Brent’s side. After leaving the Nkuhuama’s Brent made his way west in the hopes of catching up with one of our favourite spotted cats yet as he was about to turn onto Arathusa a radio report turned his plan on their heads. The Styx pride had been found on Cheetah Plains in the throes of an epic buffalo battle! Brent sped off and arrived shortly after the battle had been won. The 3 lionesses, exhausted from their battle, were lying not far from the carcass recuperating their strength as their 8 scruffy cubs clambered and fed greedily on the fresh kill. One of the cubs was so stuck in that once he had extricated himself from the hind quarters of the great black beast his entire body was coated in scarlet, glistening blood. The cubs are already displaying infamous lion table manners as they squabbled viciously for the best part of the kill. But their squabbling was not kept amongst themselves, one particularly brazen cub challenged the accompanying Birmingham male for a feeding spot and soon learnt why dad is considered “king of the beasts.” The male growled his disapproval before lifting the cub bodily from the kill with one razor sharp claw. The cub was dumped unceremoniously next to the carcass growling and swatting furiously at the large male lion (watch video here). Soon the lionesses joined in the fray as the cubs stood proud atop their beefy breakfast. Eventually Styx too pressed their stocky, tawny bodies into any available shade before nodding off for a morning cat nap.

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(Styx pride with their cubs and one Birmingham, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Cat Report 15 - 19 August

Monday the 15th of August

Cub cuteness commences the week with a sighting of the tiniest Nkuhuma cubs. Brent and the youngest three of the eight Nkuhuma’s spent a pleasantly warm afternoon wriggling and tumbling around mom. The cubs are growing fast and need to get those all important hunting skills honed to perfection and mom’s tail presented the perfect target. Once the cubs were convinced the adult lioness twitching black pompom was well and truly dead they moved on to something a little tougher….each other! Their uncoordinated attempts to pounce on one another resulted in only heartwarming tenderness as vicious attacks quickly turned into playful swats and affectionate cuddles. Eventually once the cubs had completely exhausted themselves and mom, the three little terrors settled down to further gorge their fat little bellies on mom’s milk. Eventually Brent left the sighting as the sun sank beyond the western horizon with all four cats soundly sleeping in the ebbing darkness.

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(Nkuhuma cubs with mom, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the far east on the vast open expanses that comprise Cheetah Plains, James had his own spot of cub luck. It seems that all eight of the Styx cubs have been found. Yet there is an obvious difference between the fat fluffy Nkuhuma cubs and the somewhat skinny and scraggly looking Styx cubs. It seems all the Styx cubs have fallen victim to a fungal infection of the skin, their ears were tipped with dark and raw nodules and their tawny fluff has fallen flat. The cubs were also left in a rather peculiar position, three of the eight were stashed rather riskily in the open expanse of a dried up pan while the other five huddled close together on a nearby termite mound. All eight of the cubs, licked and scratched at their little bodies constantly, seemingly unable to gain any relief from their relentless skin condition. Things were certainly not looking up for the latest members of the Styx pride as their mother were nowhere in sight, yet as anxieties intensified a report came through on the game drive radio. The three adult Styx lionesses had been located on Mala Mala and were making their way north towards the cubs. James then left the fidgeting felines and managed to catch up with the Styx lionesses who by that time had already gone flat and were enjoying a late afternoon nap. After a brief sighting James decided to move on, all hopes high that once darkness arrived the lionesses would fetch their cubs.

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(Styx cub, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, Cheetah Plains, safariLIVE)

Tuesday the 16th of August

Another dawn broke warm and muggy. The temperatures are definitely starting to increase in the mornings here, a definite fact not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by the safariLIVE crew. As Brent set out, booming roars broke the predawn silence and he was off to the northeast at pace to try and catchup with the Birmingham males. Yet as he made his way into the area reports indicated the cats had gone flat a mere 400m from the Djuma boundary. Slightly disappointed he decided to try his luck at Buffelshoek dam and, as fate would have it, Brent’s lion luck returned in full force. The Nkuhuma lioness known as Amber-Eyes was resting regally in the road, her expression was one of concentration as she called out to her pride mates. Eventually she repositioned to a sunnier spot on a high bank over-looking the lime green shallow contents of the dam. WE watched Amber-Eyes sunning herself and calling out to other Nkuhumas, soon another lioness appeared with three very special surprises in tow.

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(Youngest Nkuhuma cubs, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

As far as WE know this is the first time the three littlest Nkuhuma’s have ever been introduced to another pride member. After a few hesitant approaches, the bravest of the cubs touched it’s face to Amber’s, with no ill effect. As the day began to warm however a few of Africa’s other iconic animals decided to make their way to the dam and appeared in the form of elephants. Not long after arrival the elephants caught wind of the lions and trumpeted their displeasure, this seemed to motivate the lions to relocate. Brent followed closely and soon the bush was crawling with lions as the other five cubs accompanied by three adult Nkuhuma lionesses reunited with their pride mates. This is definitely the tiny cubs first introduction to the pride (watch video here). The older cubs bounded up to the youngsters with endless enthusiasm only to be met with an angry swat and growl from a very protective mom. Eventually after a few more reprimands for rough behaviour all thirteen of the Nkuhuma’s settled down for their daylight cat nap and WE left the sighting feeling truly elated at our unbelievable luck! Later that afternoon Brent returned to the scene, although the majority of the pride had now moved off, one proud lioness with her three fuzzballs remained completely exhausted from the morning’s exertions. The cats spent the afternoon dozing in late afternoon warmth with not a care in the world.

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(Oldest Nkuhuma cubs with mom, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday the 17th of August

The morning began warm and muggy, thick grey clouds hanging in the sky served as an insulating blanket trapping the sun’s heat from the sunny afternoon before. Distant roars to the east did not go unnoticed and James made his way swiftly to Buffelshoek dam hoping to catch up with the Nkuhuma pride. After some skillful off-road weaving in the Wendy, James found himself with one very proud mom and the three littlest Nkuhumas. The cubs scampered about attacking the odd and unfortunate baboons tail plant and taking turns to re-murder mom’s black pompom tail tip. It seems with each passing day the courageous cubs become ever braver and today was no exception. The cubs repeatedly approached the vehicle, coming within mere centimeters of a delighted James and Wium (watch video here). Eventually even mom strolled nonchalantly towards the vehicle before placing herself directly behind Wium with not a single concern about her close proximity. She allowed her little terrors to suckle briefly before heading off towards the Buffelshoek dam. While en route she encountered a few hapless and unawares impala, she became torn between the instinctual desire to hunt and the relentless, demanding attentions of her cubs. Yet as fate would have it, her cubs gave the game away with their continual contact calling, the impala snorted in alarmed disgust and the lioness was forced to continue on her way. Eventually the four felines ambled down to the lime green edge of what should probably be named Buffelshoek puddle. The lioness drank for quite some time as her cubs tumbled on the bright sandy shores before the heavens open and released a brief but not entirely insubstantial amount of rain. The lions made haste into a thick and sheltered block when James decided to leave them to their morning’s activities.

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(Youngest Nkuhuma cub, Screenshot Credit: Katrina Kissinger‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The afternoon brought with it a spot more luck. Karula had been successful in taking down a yearling impala ram and of course Xongile and Hosana were there to enjoy the spoils. Brent arrived at the rather sedate sighting on Arathusa to find all three spectacular spotted cats relaxing in leopard splendor, rotund fluffy white bellies preceding their golden spotted pelts. Xongile and Hosana are developing at an alarming rate and are fast losing the baby-faced, fuzzy appearance of young cubs. Clearly gorging on impala ram is a taxing process and both cubs spent the duration of the sighting enjoying the relief of cooling pools of shade. Karula on the other hand soon leaped up the tree and started on her afternoon tea. Eventually Brent needed to leave the sighting to make way for other safari goers and afford them a chance to spend some time with the Queen, the little prince and the beautiful princess of Djuma.

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(Xongile, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

Thursday the 18th of August

Another overcast start to the morning. Clouds hung thick and ominous in the predawn gloom as Brent and James made their way out of camp. Yet again luck was on Brent’s side as he soon managed to locate 10 lions, comprising of 4 adult Nkuhuma lionesses, 5 of the picture perfect Nkuhuma cubs and one Birmingham male in all his glory. The lions spent the start of the sunrise safari mobile through some very thick bush and certainly putting Brent’s driving to the test. Eventually the lions decided to break for a while after their extreme exertion of energy. The cubs scampered about the adults playing and pouncing on anything that dared to move within their sharp eye line. Eventually chaotic cub collective settled for a morning nap, much to the relief of their harassed looking parents, ensuring the survival of 5 overactive cubs is certainly no easy feat! Later on the sunset safari all cats were flatter than pancakes as they lazed in cooling shady relief. The scene presented itself as calm and tranquil until of course the Birmingham male made a social faux pas. One of the lionesses approached him to have a sniff, he growled in response and then all hell broke loose yet again. Two lionesses launched at the unfortunate male swatting him from all angles (watch video here)! Once the tiff was over he roared out his displeasure and dominance until eventually choosing a safe spot to rest right next to the vehicle. The cubs, clearly provoked by the fight, joined in with their little “roars” sounding more like strangled house cats. Just when WE thought it could get anymore exciting the cubs then squabbled among themselves over access to mom’s milk. Eventually the sighting returned to a soporific state of heavy eyelids and gentle breathing as the cats napped away the rest of the afternoon.

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(Nkuhuma cub, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the far east however a new safariLIVE favourite was on the move with murderous intents in her eyes. Inkanyeni proweld the brittle grey winter bush focussed intently on the hunt. Her cavernous belly gave away her intentions as she slunk from termite mound to termite mound. Rumour had it that she had stashed her cubs on the southern most boundary and although WE were not fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of her cubs, it is certainly good news to hear that both are alive and doing well. The fluffy tailed leopardess spent the afternoon alternating between states of liquid stalking and solid resting. Eventually she crossed south into Mala Mala where she rested on an ancient termite mound gazing in a sultry manner over her shoulder at Brent, almost teasing him. Soon a small dazzle of zebra caught her attention, spots and striped existed in harmony for a brief period before Inkanyeni eventually crossed back into Cheetah Plains and then immediately into Kruger. Brent stayed with the stunning feline until we eventually lost sight of her in the growing darkness of the early evening.

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(Inkanyeni, Screenshot Credit: Linda McCaslin, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)‎

Friday the 19th of August

Lions, lions everywhere! Another roaring start to the day with the Nkuhuma pride, the cubs and the Birmingham males! The cat collective came to a total count of twelve lions, four of the Nkuhuma lionesses, five of the cuddly cubs and three of the Birmingham males. As with most families, it appeared that dinner had brought them all together and it came in the form of a rather smelly buffalo carcass. The cause of the bovids death is not 100% certain but Brent reckoned the buffalo brute had been killed by the three Birmingham males a few days prior, especially judging by the smell! All the cts spent the morning sleeping off substantial food comas, the chests rose and fell at a rapid pace as their protruding bellies rested on the cooling earth. WE managed to have a brief sighting of the cubs yet laziness was certainly the order of the day. Later on the sunset safari the lionesses and cubs retreaded into the shady thickets while the males slept soundly near the carcass.

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(Nkuhuma lioness and cubs, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Of course the afternoon could not be complete without a sighting of the Queen herself. Karula was found ambling her way down to Twin dams, more accurately described as a puddle, where she paused for a long refreshing drink. Once finished she continued on her way south and eventually came to a stop on the southern boundary. She sat and gazed pensively across the boundary, tail in a constant state of twitch. The Queen however is full of surprises and soon exploded into a jog across the boundary before flattening herself to the ground stalking. Her almost liquid like movements were mesmerizing as she carefully picked her way through the undergrowth. Eventually we lost sight of her as her perfectly camouflaged pelage blended expertly with the yellow and grey dappled colours of the winter bushveld.

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

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Nest Cam for Djuma Pan

WildEarth is always looking for new ways to bring you the sights and sounds of the bush, and add to the numerous live feeds and cameras bringing you animal encounters every day.

WE have now partnered up with Nest Labs, manufacturer of the nest camera, to give you a different view of the action at Djuma pan. The camera is at ground level, giving us a chance to see the animals who visit the water source, eye to eye.

"I especially love watching the elephants drink and seeing the individual hairs on their trunk as it comes within inches of the camera," says WE Technical Director Peter Braat. The camera was placed there in late July, and has since survived even elephant interference. "On one occasion I could see the power box held by the elephant's trunk a split second before it was pulled out and the cam went down," says Peter.

The cam's precarious position made fitting it in it's current position quite a feat. "Mounting the camera under the log trying to not end up in the pan myself was quite a challenge, but in the end I managed to get it done with no more damage than wet feet and and smelly, muddy shoes," says Peter

So far, this new addition to WE has captured some incredible footage, from this look at elephants coming in to drink, to this view of the Nkuhuma lionesses and their cubs visiting at night.

You can view the cam here, and experience this never before seen look at the animals of Djuma for yourself.

Bush-lympics : The Final Countdown


WE don’t get to take part in many events from the bush, so when the Olympics rolled around , WE thought it was the perfect opportunity to be part of something that was happening world over! WE couldn’t get to Rio so WE decided to host our very own Bush Olympics, fondly called bushlympics.


WE had an opening ceremony befitting of the Greeks - introducing each crew member donning their flags, the flame was lit and the games soon began.



The competitors met challenges with a surcharge of energy and camaraderie. In true Olympic spirits , WE participated in competitions that involved us being ‘ FASTER , HIGHER, STRONGER’. The races against time and each other were tough and all eggs but one met their fate.





On Sunday 21ST August, WE will be celebrating the end of the Olympics. The sunset Safari will be met with the final contest: The Ranger Race.James and Brent will get a point for ‘anything with a heartbeat’ and the rules are as follows:

1.     Creature must have a heartbeat
2.     Must be visible on camera
3.     Quantity does not matter - One point will be given for each species
4.     First sighting of the season receives two points (eg.Wahlbergs Eagle )
5.     The race will commence at 15:00 CAT and end at 17:00 CAT.
6.     Camera operators may facilitate in spotting

To end off our Olympic celebrations WE will announce the winner of the Ranger Race as well as award the crew competitor who received the most amount of points during the Bush Olympics. Join us as WE celebrate our various countries efforts , the joys of friendly competition and most of all our Crew Camaraderie!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Cat Report: 6th of August - 14th August 2016

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
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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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!
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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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
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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

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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.
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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
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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.