Sunday the 1st of May
The week kicks off with a somewhat docile doggie sighting. The Sands pack of wild dogs has been located on Arathusa. Upon Sam’s arrival the most the dogs could be bothered to do was raise their heads in vague interest. Soon after their eyes were resting tight against the dappled autumnal sunlight. Once the afternoon cooled the dogs yawned, stretched and chirped away before dashing off into thick bush, no doubt in a state of great hunger after such a busy day. A dog’s life indeed!
(Sands pack of wild dog, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Monday the 2nd of May
As the sun rose on a rather crisp morning the radio came to life with reports of a male lion at chele pan. Not long after James found himself with one of the Birmingham male lions. The impressive cat had scavenged himself a mysteriously deceased Nyala bull. The carcass had been discovered one day prior, yet no evidence of predatory action was visible. An enigmatic circumstance indeed, but still an advantageous one for a hungry male lion. By the time WE arrived on sight he had already satiated his appetite and spent the morning dozing in the radiant sunlight. Later on during the sunset safari he fed unenthusiastically on the Nyala for a short time before being chased off by a rather disagreeable buffalo bull clearly offended by the smell of lion and carcass.
(Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To the north west 4 of the 5 beautiful Nkuhuma lionesses have been located near Sydney’s dam. The lions spent most of the afternoon sleeping in the cool shade. But after the sun disappeared behind the mountains the pride rose, stretched out their lean bodies and began to make their way slowly north. The 5th member of the pride has not been located since the sighting at Buffelshoek dam. At this point speculation of a den site and possible cubs is strengthened, yet without confirmation it is impossible to be certain.
(Nkuhuma pride, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Wednesday the 4th of May
This morning is off to an action packed start. Minutes before the start of the sunrise safari reports came flooding in about a lioness drinking at the Djuma pan. Sam and Jamie made their way straight into the area, eyes primed for the slightest tail flick indicating a big cat. Instead Wium yells out “wild dog!” Sure enough the dogs are back and after a brief sighting they disappeared into the thickest part of the Milawati drainage line.
After the excitement and mysterious disappearance of the dogs, Jamie finds Tsakani on patrol through the north western section of Djuma. This is the second time the young and astonishingly beautiful leopardess has been spotted in this area. Initially she’s hunting and surprisingly, wakes a very angry civet in the process! After a good deal of disgruntled growling the civet bolted through the undergrowth leaving the leopardess confused and frustrated. Tsakani then sniffed her way around paying close attention to several of Tingana’s favourite scent marking posts indicating that she may be setting up territory in the area.
(Tsakani, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The mystery of the disappearing wild dogs is solved later on the sunset safari. Reports yet again came flooding in as 4 adults were spotted having a drink at the Djuma pan. Jamie was first on scene but soon noticed that all 4 of the dogs were female. This makes them newcomers to the area, their reluctance to be near a vehicle also an indication that these lovely ladies are from outside of the Sabi Sands. Jamie kept her distance and after a relaxing pan side lie about the dogs were up and off. As darkness fell they dashed into some thick bush on a hunting mission..
(Unknown wild dog female, Jamie
[left], Bryan [right], Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thursday the 5th of May
The Nkuhuma pride is back and this time with a buffalo carcass. Again there are 4 out of the 5 members present on the carcass. This time however, the lioness suspected of being near to birth is back with the pride and Amber eyes, a viewer favourite, is missing. Reports then come in over the game drive radio that one Nkuhuma lioness has been found mating with one of the Birmingham males to the east. The pride spent their morning picking their way through the last unappetising dregs of the kill before sleeping off their meal for the rest of the morning.
(Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Upon returning to the same area on the sunset safari it was discovered that the pride had moved on. Luck however was on our side and soon after James found Amber eyes with her impressive Birmingham companion. The amorous pair spent the majority of the afternoon sleeping off the previous night’s activities. But once the sun had set and the stars were beginning to shine in the darken sky the cats awoke. Amber eyes flirted with the large male quite persistently yet he seemed less than enamored with her advances, casually ignoring her. Amber eyes eventually decided he was no longer worth the effort and made her way into the darkness. A few moments later it seemed he was suddenly struck by the notion that he was no longer flavour of the week and called out to his lost love mournfully until the final moments of safariLIVE.
(Nkuhuma lioness [left], Birmingham male [right], Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Friday the 6th of May
An incredible sighting was had on the sunset safari. Jamie made her way to Cheetah Plains early on in the afternoon with the hopes of finding out what action was unfolding across the wide open clearings. Suspicions were alerted after a strange steenbok sighting in which the tiny antelope came bursting out of the thickets at top speed yet there was no obvious sign of threat. After some investigation and the discovery of fresh tracks the suspects were spotted. The two brothers making up the dominant male cheetah coalition stepped out into the clearings. The brilliant cats moved with the utmost elegance through the plains until catching sight of a large wildebeest herd. Finally, a moment WE have all been waiting for, a chance to see the world’s fastest land mammal on the hunt. The brothers stalked side by side, precise steps in unison, two fireworks ready to explode. Breath was collectively held as the expert hunters lay flat a mere 30 meters away from an unsuspecting wildebeest cow. Each muscle tense and poised to erupt in motion should the opportunity present itself. Yet an unfortunate change in the wind and the game was up, one loud snort later and the entire herd was on the move with no doubt about the presence of the cheetah. The brothers then brazenly stepped into the open and continued on patrol to the south, scent marking as they went. Eventually they crossed into Mala Mala and we lost sight of them in the thickets.
(Cheetah coalition, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)