Friday the 30th of December
This weeks Cat Report kicks off with a lazy cool afternoon spent with the Nkuhuma pride. Amber Eyes and her Birmingham consort were laying a short distance away from the pride, they mated once every so often. As usual Amber Eyes looked to be less than enamoured with Mfumo yet this did not seem to deter him. Back with the carcass the rest of the pride took it easy, sleeping the afternoon away. Even the cubs were more placid than playful as they relaxed dense verdant thickets.
(Nkuhuma lioness yawning, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Saturday the 31st of December
Dawn found the lions still in their preferred horizontal positions. The cubs however were a little more playful and scampered around while they honed their climbing skill. Amber Eyes was still being kept a safe distance from the pride by Mfumo, her Birmingham suitor. The beefy meal that had been enjoying over the past few days was just about finished, save for the odd scrap here and there. The lions then arose, stretched and slowly edged towards the northern boundary.
(Sleepy Nkuhuma lioness dozing in the afternoon heat, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Further to the south and in the heart of Djuma rested the great Queen, Karula. She had been found reclining in all her regal grace atop the sturdy boughs of a marula tree. There was no sign of the young prince and princess but Karula dozed in a state of total relaxation for the duration of the morning.
(Queen Karula relaxing in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)
In complete and absolute contrast to the unconscious cats this morning was the Ngala dispersal pack of wild dogs. Made up of two females and one male the dogs coursed across the northern boundary and straight through Djuma. WE were just barely able to keep up with them as the wove their way through dense thickets. Every now and again they would pause briefly to scent mark and listen to the surrounding bush before dashing off again. Eventually they gave us the slip but left us with our hearts racing and adrenaline pumping.
(Ngala dispersal pack of wild dogs coursing through the bush, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To the far east on Cheetah Plains, Inkanyeni had been spotted relaxing in the afternoon sun. The stunning leopardess was alone this time with no sign of her young male cub Votumi. She eventually got up and wove her way towards the boundary but not before taking the time to stun us all with the most iconic of leopard sightings as she gracefully scaled a large marula to look upon her surroundings.
(Inkanyeni looking over the landscape, Screenshot Credit: Claire Armendinger, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Sunday the 1st of January
Another morning dawned with golden light spilling across the tawny pelts of the Nkuhuma pride. All five lionesses were present along with their six growing cubs. The cats were both flat and fat off the last remaining scraps of their buffalo kill. Full tummies swayed rhythmically as the fat little cubs waddled around playing. Later on that afternoon however the lions decided they had spent enough time on Djuma and slowly made their way across the northern boundary.
(Dozy Nkuhuma cub napping in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A short distance away from the pride was yet another member of the Birmingham coalition. It was not however Tinyo or Mfumo, the two big males who usually hang around the pride, this time it was Nenha, the warrior. But it didn’t seem like he was going to be up to much warring today as he spent the morning fast asleep in some cooling shade. By that afternoon he had moved on, no doubt in pursuit of the Nkuhuma pride.
Further to the south, the royal family had been found once again. Queen Karula, Hosana and Xongile were on the move and looking a little peckish. With two fast growing cubs to look after, it’s no wonder that Karula almost always seems to be on the hunt, yet the cubs are learning quickly and have already made a few small kills of their own. The spotted family made their way through the reserve with determination, in a flurry of action Hosana managed to kill a very small warthog, just enough to keep him fed for a day or so. Karula seemed to think that this was as good a place as any to stash the cubs while she went on the hunt once again. With lots to explore and a small porky snack the cubs were more than happy to stay safe and tucked away while mom was out looking for the next meal.
(Young Hosana tucking into a fresh warthog kill, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Monday the 2nd of January
Excitement charged the air with electricity this morning as the safariLIVE crew geared up for their first prime time debut on TV. WE had high hopes of a great morning and of course Karula, Hosana and Xongile were only too happy to oblige! First up was the royal cubs still waiting patiently in the same area for Karula to return ringing the proverbial dinner bell. The cubs passed the time by pouncing on each other, climbing up tiny trees and taking brave nibbles at a foam nest frog nest. Eventually they came to rest as the day began to warm up. Later that afternoon WE were able to catch up with the young princess. She was nestled in thick and shady bush and spent most of the afternoon relaxing. Her brother Hosana was no doubt in the area somewhere but his spotted coat kept him hidden from our vision for the duration of the afternoon.
(Hosana investigating a frog nest, Screenshot Credit: Linda McCaslin, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A little further west of their location Karula had been spotted on the hunt. She wove her way through the bush with intent, the slightest of movements drawing her precision focus from all angles. Eventually she spotted her target, a young nyala ewe. She began the stalk and just like that it was all over, she had been spotted. The nyala barked out her alarm call and walked definitely towards the spotted huntress. Karula then slunk off and managed to lose us in a dense thicket.
(Queen Karula looks out over her territory, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A surprise lay in wait for the WE team this afternoon in the form of the Tsalala pride. Three adult lionesses were present with their two subadult males. It seemed the pride had been in pursuit of a large breeding herd of buffalo. By the time WE caught up with them they were on the stalk and patiently waiting for their opportunity to strike. Unfortunately the attempt was foiled by an overeager and under experienced subadult male. He rushed the herd prematurely and sent the buffalo charging off into the distance.
(Tsalala lioness waiting patiently to strike, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 3rd of January
Another morning and another tick on the latest cat streak for the safariLIVE crew. Karula and her two cubs were found moving through a thick block on the edge of the Milwati drainage line. They bobbed and weaved through the dense bush which made tracking them near impossible. Eventually however they came to rest in the shady relief of the drainage line. It is still uncertain as to whether or not the great Queen had been successful on her hunting trip. The cubs played and pounced on on mom, eventually she made a grab at Hosana and was at least successful in giving him a morning bath.
(Little Xongile resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To the east Quarantine had been found wrapped in the amorous folds of Inkanyeni. The pair mated several times during the sighting, this is as surer sign as any Karula’s young male has finally carved out his own territory on Cheetah Plains. Inkanyeni flirted with the large four year old male relentlessly and was successful in her attempts at seduction.
(The dashing young Quarantine resting in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
A little further to the south on Cheetah plains was another favourite pair of spotted cats. The two cheetah brothers had been found making their way to Mala Mala. WE were able to catch up with them just as they crossed the boundary through a dense thicket of bush. They eventually popped out onto an open plain but went flat almost immediately in the sprawling shade of a large tree.
To top it all off WE had another sighting with the Tsalala pride on Arathusa. It seemed their hunting escapades had left them truly exhausted. The cat napped the entire afternoon away in some thin dappled shade. Eventually WE left as the sun began to set behind the mountains to the west and the lions continued in the sound sleeping.
(Young male lion from the Tsalala pride rolling over, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Wednesday the 4th of January
The Nkuhuma pride were discovered resting up near the northern boundary. All five lionesses and six scraggly cubs were present. The cubs scampered around in playful fits before eventually joining the adults for a morning nap. Two of the Birmingham boys were also present at the sighting, and both with amorous intentions. Mfumo had managed to single out a disgruntled Amber Eyes, the pair mated a few times unenthusiastically. Amber tried to edge her way closer to the pride but Mfumo was her ever present shadow. Meanwhile, Tinyo had his sights set on the youngest lioness of the pride yet not much came of his relentless pursuit. To the south a third member of the Birmingham coalition had been found. The long missed Nsuku, aka “Blondie,” had finally returned. He marched forward with intent as he called out softly to his brothers and scent marked any bush that dared grow from the sandy soil. He eventually made his way into a very thick block and managed to give us the slip.
(A disinterested Amber Eyes Nkuhuma with Mfumo her Birmingham shadow, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later on that afternoon we were once again reunited with the royal cubs. They lay fat and flat under a dense bush near the Djuma pump house, a favourite cub stashing spot of Karula’s. The young prince and princess did not get u to much on the sunny warm afternoon and rather spent their time getting that all important beautyrest, it’s not easy being a leopard cub!
(Sleepy Hosana resting under a bush, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thursday the 5th of January
Another cool and damp start to the morning, yet for Hosana and Xongile the weather couldn’t be more perfect. The cubs bounded and played to no end, practicing their pouncing and stalking techniques on each other. There was still no sign of Queen Karula, but this didn’t seem to phase her quickly growing offspring. They chased each other for the entire morning jumping in and out of bushes, running through drainage culverts and generally creating chaos with any small animal that dared to move in the area. Later that afternoon WE were only able to locate the young princess as she drank deeply from treehouse dam. She then made her way to the top of a termite mound before disappearing into the darkness.
(Xongile rests on the top of a termite mound, Screenshot Credit, Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A little further north and west the Nkuhuma pride had been found again. This time only the three mother lionesses and cubs were present with Tinyo, one of the dominant males. There appeared to be some kind of commotion to the west and Tinyo sped off away form the pride to check it out. Rumor has it that the Majingilane coalition had come to blows with one of the other Birmingham males but with no confirmed sighting it is difficult to say. Tinyo soon returned to the pride and the lions spent the rest of the morning fast asleep.
(Nkuhuma cub napping the day away, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
To top it all off we once again managed to catch up with the Styx pride on Chitwa Chitwa. The sleepy cats dozed the entire afternoon away with their two new precious cubs. Eventually it became too dark for us to remain at the sighting and we left the big cats to their evening business.
(Little Styx cub gives us a big yawn, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Chitwa Chitwa)