Friday the 20th of January
This week’s cat report kicks off on a warm sunny afternoon. To the east the Styx pride had been found, only one lioness was present but her two fluffy little cubs were there to keep her company. The cubs suckled while mom snoozed in the shade away from the white hot light of the sun. Eventually mom decided it was time to retreat to the relative serenity of a nearby drainage line and the three tawny cats disappeared from sight.
(Styx lioness resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Back on Djuma, the royal family had been found in the same spot they had been left earlier. Karula spent most of the afternoon fast asleep with her graceful daughter Xongile. Hosana slept a little way off on a cool, damp patch of mud next to a murky and shallow wallow. Later as the sunset cast golden light across the lowveld Karula and Xongile took up sentinel on a fallen marula tree, the two regal females struck the most iconic of vistas against the burnt orange sky.
(A very Karula sunset, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Saturday the 21st of January
The day roared into action with two of the Birmingham males. Tinyo and Mfumo had been found making their way through the northern section of the reserve. Not long after they were located they decided their evening travels were over and they settled for the all important day nap. The brothers nestled together in the ultimate display of brotherly love. That evening just as the sun had disappeared they roared together in unison before loping off into the darkness.
(Mfumo telling Tinyo all about his busy day, Screenshot Credit: Marieke van Nistelrooij, safariLIVE, Djuma)
In the heart of Djuma Karula and her young prince Hosana had been found reclining in the wide boughs of a large tree. Both spotted cats spent their morning attending to some personal grooming and a little beauty rest. Xongile was nowhere to be found, but the little princess is an expert at hiding herself in thick green bush. Later that afternoon only the great queen could be located. She was found sleeping soundly atop a large termite mound. Karula remained static for the whole of the afternoon and eventually her golden shape was swallowed by the darkness.
(Karula getting some beauty sleep, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
On the opposite end of the scale from the sleeping cats was the highly energetic Lower Sabi breakaway pack of wild dogs. The two males and a single female sailed through the bush with agile speed. The dogs wound their way through thicket after thicket and eventually gave us the slip. In one last attempt to catch up with them, Brent sped around to the northern boundary. The dogs then popped out on cue and trotted gracefully down the dusty dirt road. After a few minutes tailing them they slipped off into Buffelshoek and left with with one last view of their fluffy white tails disappearing into the undergrowth.
(Lower Sabi breakaway pack moving down the northern boundary, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Sunday the 22nd of January
A lazy Sunday morning began with some equally lazy lions. The single Styx lioness with her two cubs had been found on Chitwa Chitwa near the boundary of Cheetah Plains. The lioness rested her heavy eyes and paws as her two cubs suckled relentlessly. Later that afternoon the lions had made their way to the Cheetah Plains lodge where they spent an equally lazy afternoon drink and sleeping near a small muddy pan.
(Hungry little Styx cubs suckling from their sleepy mother, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Chitwa Chitwa)
Back on Djuma, Nenha, one of the lesser seen Birmingham Boys had pulled off quite a feat. In the dark hours of the night he had managed to bring down an adult buffalo all on his own, a display of strength and power that could not be matched by many other animals. By the time we caught up with him he was taking a much needed rest.
(Nenha resting up in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Louise Pavid, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A little further to the south the young leopardess princess, Xongile, had been located resting in a tree. She soon became bored and descended as gracefully as she could. She frolicked in the verdant grass before clambering up yet another large marula where she slowly dozed off in the warm afternoon.
(A dozy Xongile naps away the afternoon in a marula tree, Screenshot Credit: Louise Pavid, safariLIVE, Djuma)
On the far eastern boundary of Djuma her mother, Karula, had been found mobile and on the hunt. Her cavernous belly a clear indication that it was most certainly time for another meal. Karula wove her way through the thickets before eventually stopping to rest. Once the sun began to set she was up and off, her golden rosetted pelt melting perfectly into the darkness.
(Queen Karula resting before the hunt, Screenshot Credit: Louise Pavid, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Monday the 23rd of January
Well it would seem the Queen had a successful night of hunting as the next day Hosana was found feeding voraciously on a fully grown impala ram. Karula had left her young son at the scene while she went in search of Xongile. Soon enough mother and daughter returned to the kill. Hosana slunk off to sulk in a nearby tree as both Karula and Xongile fed to their hearts delight. Later that afternoon the cubs rested their full bellies in dense shaded bushes while Karula fed and groomed. A truly idyllic scene then played out as a small herd of elephants walked through the clearing where the leopards had been enjoying their meal. The elephants grazed peacefully as the leopard family watched on. But all good things must come to an end, the cats eventually moved on and lost us in a densely wooded block.
(The young princess Xongile resting in a tree, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Back in the heart of Djuma Nenha had now been joined by two more of his brothers, Tinyo and Mfumo. All three male lions looked full to bursting as their beachball shaped stomachs heaved with each labored breath in the warm sunlight. The lazy trio spent most of the day sleeping in various scattered patches of shade, once the sun had set they showed signs of life once again. All three rose and looked to be moving on, but that was a far cry from the truth - instead the massive tawny cats relieved their bladders and flopped in a great heap of reddish-black mane.
(Three of the Birmingham males waking up for the evening, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 24th of January
Another wonderful warm African day was spent with the royal family while they finished off their impala kill. Karula was found making her way to a small pan for an afternoon drink, she rested a while in the shade as a large warthog joined her for an afternoon swim. Eventually Karula made her way back to the carcass and her cubs. She fed viciously on what remained of the impala ram and soon gave way her spot for an equally ravenous Xongile.
(Queen Karula quenching her thirst, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Chitwa Chitwa)
Further east on the great wide open clearings of Cheetah Plains were our two favourite cheetah brothers. Initially all WE could see of the planet’s fastest mammal was a black and gold ear flicking periodically behind a bush. Yet as the sun set the brother arose and gracefully strode across the Mala Mala boundary and onto Cheetah Plains. Their coats reflected the golden light of the sunset as the glided across the clearings. Eventually they came to rest for the evening just as the sun disappeared.
(The cheetah brothers making their way across the great open plains, Screenshot Credit: Kim Powers Blackley, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Wednesday the 25th Of January
Another bright dawn greeted the wilderness and in the most elegant fashion with another sighting of the cheetah brothers. They hadn’t moved much since the previous evening and spent a great deal of time lying flat on a cool sandy road in the shade.
(Cheetah brothers relaxing in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Joshua Gross, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Back on Djuma another safariLIVE favourite popped up out of nowhere. Tingana had been found slowly making his way through Djuma in a westerly direction. He walked and rested continually through the morning until we eventually left him to his daily business. That evening WE were able to catch up with him once again on Arathusa. He was sleeping soundly in a large marula. Once the sun had set he yawned, stretched and roared out his resonating territorial saw before descending the large tree. The then ambled off into the darkness on his nightly patrol.
(Tingana waking up after a hard day of napping, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Tingana however was not our only spotted surprise for the afternoon. After investigating Karula’s impala kill site and discovering a carpet of hyaena tracks in the area it became clear the leopards had moved off, but not far however. Karula was found resting up at a small pan just across the boundary on Chitwa Chitwa. She spent the afternoon resting on the cool damp mud at the water’s edge. As the afternoon wore on she was visited by a young elephant bull who came for a drink and a mud bath. Neither animal was in the least concerned by the other and once the elephant moved off Karula was off to sleep once again.
(Karula resting up in some shady grass near a waterhole, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Chitwa Chitwa)
Thursday the 26th of January
The morning was off to a great start with three of the Birmingham males and one Nkuhuma lioness. The big cats had managed to bring down a small buffalo cow in the darkest hours of the night and spent the remainder of the evening hours feeding hungrily. By the time WE had caught up with them there were full bellied and content. Later that afternoon it seemed the lioness had returned to her pride but Tinyo, Nsuku and Nenha were all sleeping off their beefy breakfast. They remained static with bursting bellies for the entire afternoon and well into the night.
(A full to bursting Nsuku gazes at us with his golden eyes, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Just to the south and west of the Birmingham males were two Styx lionesses and their scruffy little cubs. The cats were mobile for the first part of the morning, mom and sister strode along while the cubs worked their stubby little legs to keep up. Eventually the lionesses stopped and lay down, the cubs seized the moment for a long sweet suckle. They then spent the entirety of the day reclined in the road appreciating the cool and overcast weather.
(Styx pride and cubs on their morning walk, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Friday the 27th of January
Another roaring start to the morning, quite literally as WE caught up with Nenha yet again. We found him slowly making his way south. He stopped and called out a number of times on his journey in search of his brothers. While on the way he attempted a stalk on a small breeding herd of buffalo, however after realising how many angry bulls stood between him and his potential breakfast, he thought better of the idea. He then continued his trek south and eventually came to rest under a thick leafy bush on Arathusa.
(Nenha on his morning prowl, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)