The Cat Report 17 – 24 February 2017

Friday the 17th of February

The week is off to a great start with the continued presence of the Nkuhuma pride on Djuma. Three of the stunning lionesses and all six of their quickly growing cubs were still milling about near their waterbuck carcass. All nine of the tawny cats were full to bursting and looked more like vaguely lion -shaped beach balls rather than the apex predator of the African savanna. The cats did what they do best by lazing about and having the odd nibble of the sparse remains of their kill. Eventually darkness began to settle on the wild and WE left the cats to their evening business.

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(Nkuhuma cub stretching out after a day of feasting, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Saturday the 18th of February

The Nkuhuma’s, three lionesses and six cubs accounted for, finished off their waterbuck breakfast – this antelope might become their favourite meal in the near future seeing as the buffalo have vacated Djuma for the time being. There were barely any scraps left for the prying vultures and with full bellies the lions slowly strolled down to Buffelshoek dam for a cool refreshment.

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(Nkuhuma’s taking a refreshment break. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

Quarantine was dawdling along the road, making his way into the early morning wet grass. He gracefully climbed up a marula tree, searching for the perfect nap spot as he tried many different positions. Finally satisfied, he watched with an inquisitive gaze as the elephant below him rummaged for marulas.

(The inquisitive Quarantine. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhuma’s were seen again at sunset, lazing around in the afternoon heat. It seemed that they were trying their hardest to move as little as possible. We watched as they dozed back and forth into their daytime dreams.

(Lazing in the heat. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The drive ended off with a brief moment accompanied by one of the Birmingham boys. The cat lay flat and was un-phased by anyone or anything. The situation might’ve changed deeper into the night when his energy was regained.
Sunday the 19th of February

A cloudy yet balmy and humid morning broke over the Sabi Sand just as Karula, Hosana and Xongile paced across our southern boundary. WE watched as the great queen escorted her two cubs through the thick verdant bush and out of sight. Later, reports over the radio indicated that Karula had made a kill and was indeed taking the royal prince and princess on an early morning breakfast run. Later that afternoon the great Queen had made a return to Djuma. She dozed in the hot midday sun until eventually it came time for a little hunting. She playfully stalked a tiny francolin before moving off into a thicket. To the south her two cubs, Hosana and Xongile were found flat and sleepy on little Gowrie. WE could only see a tiny bit of Hosana’s tail dangling from a high tree branch and eventually we moved on to find something a little more active.

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(Queen Karula regally rests in a tree, Screenshot Credit: Karen Gilliam, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Further to the north the three Nkuhuma lionesses and their six fat and healthy little cubs were found. They had barely moved from the evening before save for maybe a roll over from one side of a swollen belly to the other. The lions seemed to be trying their hardest to imitate statues, yet again very little movement had occurred through the day. The big cats then spent the rest of the day lazing about in the newly verdant grasses.

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(Sleepy and relaxed Nkuhuma lioness, Screenshot Credit: Agnes Zsiga‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Monday the 20th of February

Another royal dawn awaited the safariLIVE crew as WE went out on the last of our eight live television shows. Both Hosana and Xongile were found on Little Gowrie to the south of Djuma. The cubs frisked and played with ecstatic vigor before eventually disappearing into a dense wall of thick green bush.

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(Young Hoasana having a look around, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Little Gowrie)

To the west the Nkuhuma pride had been found on foot by Stef. The three lionesses and six young cubs seemed particularly antsy. Word the trickled through the crackling radio indicating that the Matimba males had been seen on Elephant Plains to the west of Arathusa. It then made sense as to why the Nkuhuma pride were so on edge. Eventually Jamie made her way into the sighting and spent a few exquisite minutes with the beautiful lions as the wandered their way north and into Simbambili.  

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(Nkuhuma lioness keeping a wary eye out, Screenshot Credit: Linda McCaslin, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

Tuesday the 21st of February

The Duke of Djuma was nearly missed as he camouflaged himself in the thick grass of Arathusa. His coat looked dapper, and his belly was full – a very handsome and healthy leopard to say the least. He rested comfortably before the heat of the day hit.
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(Looking into the eyes of handsome Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

WE came across an unidentified leopard on the sunset safari. After much discretion, it was finalised to be Kuchava. The cat lay flat on top of a termite mound underneath the grey African skies. She was briefly entertained by a few oxpeckers as they called. Her head poked up, but very quickly put back down as she happily continued to rest.

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(Kuchava yawning between naps. Screenshot Credit: David Holm safariLIVE, Djuma)

Wednesday the 22nd of February

WE were entertained by Xongile being a typical girl as she got ready for the day ahead. She manicured her claws as she sharpened them on a nearby tree. Her climbing skills were perfected as she practiced going up and down the same tree. Hosana lay flat and watched his sister, probably rolling his eyes.

(Xongile sharpening her claws. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhuma’s, three lionesses and six cubs, were bundled together underneath the afternoon rain. They scratched, stretched, licked and groomed themselves and one another – getting rid of boredom but ticks as well. Despite the size of the fast growing cubs, they suckled from their mother and aunt, enjoying every drop. WE left them as darkness approached.

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(The Nkuhuma’s stretching and scratching. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown safariLIVE, Djuma)

Thursday the 23rd of February

The lions it seemed walked Djuma flat during the darkest hours of the night. Their tracks had been found littering the roads on the northern edge of the property. Eventually they were found way to the east near buffelshoek dam. Something it seems is still ruffling these ladies feathers as they quickly marched through the bush constantly checking over their shoulder and on their cubs continued safety. Eventually the big cats came to rest in such a dense wet thicket that WE could barely see them.

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(A big yawn before a long nap. Screenshot Credit: Di Priem safarLIVE, Djuma)

Later that day, the Nkuhuma’s lay flat in the grass near Buffelshoek dam. They seemed to be extremely tired and sleepy, probably from all the walking they did the night before. WE watched them struggle to keep their eyes open, and soon we left them as they started to dream.

Friday the 24th of February

Another grey and cloudy morning was spent with the Nkuhuma pride. Three lionesses and six cubs sheltered themselves as best they could from the light yet unrelenting drizzle. The pride was still on edge and with reports of the Matimba males being seen on Djuma the night before it is no surprise why. Track of the once dominant males were found leaving the property so it seems the Nkuhuma’s and their gorgeous cubs are safe for now.

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(A soggy Nkuhuma cub gazes through the bush, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)