Friday 26 May
After their morning antics, WE eagerly searched for the Nkuhuma pride again.
WE found the cats relaxed and dozing in the afternoon sun; the cubs were playing around and chewing on sticks to alleviate their itching gums. They took their sleeping regime very seriously and save for the flick of an ear here and there, they remained flat.
(Nkuhuma cubs , Screenshot Credit: Jenny Spencer, safariLIVE, Djuma – Between Mvubu and Gowrie cutline)
As the light started to fade and WE switched to IR to view our wonderful surroundings, Tingana graced our screens for his signature ‘last-minute leopard’ appearance. Tingana scent-marked a few trees before disappearing into the thick bush where WE were unable to follow him in the fading light.
WE also came across the Sand Pack of wild dogs who delighted us with their inherent affection toward one another. The pack, led by a heavily pregnant female, caused some concern as they sneezed intermittently, but the sneezes were attributed to the dust and not any signs of disease. WE left the pack for other vehicles and guests to enjoy.
(Sands Pack , Screenshot Credit: Jason Jones, safariLIVE, Arathusa – Near Lodge)
Saturday 27 May 2017
Caturday morning dawned with one of the Birmingham males lying very flat in the grass. He caught wind of something that made him sit upright in a very regal pose and WE identified him as Nenha. He soon strided across the grasslands of Cheetah Plains, head high constantly sniffing whatever scent the wind carried. WE followed the mighty form until he vanished into the thick bush.
(Nenha , Screenshot Credit: Allan Harris, safariLIVE, Cheetah plains pan)
Sunday 28 May 2017
Sunday afternoon greeted us with the remnant of the morning chill in the air and WE wrapped up warmly before setting out on drive. WE arrived at Cheetah Plains pan with three of the Birmingham Boys basking in the winter sunshine. The only difference between themselves and their carcass was the rise and fall of their golden chests.
(Birmingham boy , Screenshot Credit: Della, safariLIVE, Cheetah plains pan)
On the other side of our traverse, WE came across energetic wild dogs squeaking and playing around the remains of their antelope kill. The dogs were highly mobile, making it very difficult to keep up with them. They were in high spirits and lifted our own through their joyful banter.
(Wild dogs – Sands pack , Screenshot Credit: Jason Jones, safariLIVE, Arathusa – Arathusa lodge)
Monday 29 May 2017
Monday started the week off on a high when the Nkuhuma pride arrived with bright yellow eyes and active playfulness in the long grass. The cubs enjoyed themselves as proud mothers lay close by and watched their offspring’s social interactions. One of the moms even joined in the play-stalking and the young cubs happily engaged the older lion’s participation in their morning games.
(Nkuhuma pride , Screenshot Credit: Della, safariLIVE, Djuma -Between Impala and triple M road)
Later that afternoon, WE caught up with the Nkuhuma pride again to find them dozing in the mild winter sunshine, clearly exhausted from the morning’s play session. WE sat with them for a while in the hopes of the flat cats finding more energy, but the most they could muster was a few yawns. WE left them to enjoy their afternoon sunshine.
Reports of Thandi and Thamba in the area was well received. WE went to investigate and sure enough Thandi was discovered sleeping on a comfortable tree branch, her golden form contrasted by the clear blue sky in the background. Her handsome son, Thamba, rested in the grass close to his mother barely perceptible thanks to his camouflage.
Mom and son eventually started on their dinner of impala ram. WE remained with them for a while before heading off to answer the call of our own dinner beckoning.
(Thandi , Screenshot Credit: Danny NL Prox, safariLIVE, Chitwa – South of lodge)
Tuesday 30 May 2017
The day dawned with great anticipation as WE headed toward Chitwa to find Thamba and Thandi again. WE weren’t disappointed as mother and son lay on their individual termite mounds looking regally over the cold dawn sunrise.
Thandi later continued on her morning stroll about the bush and Thamba decided to have a very substantial breakfast, gorging himself on what remained of the impala ram kill for no less than a 20 minute feeding frenzy. WE left him to finish his breakfast.
(Thandi , Screenshot Credit: MA, safariLIVE, Chitwa – South of lodge)
(Thandi , Screenshot Credit: Ann Del Tredici, safariLIVE, Chitwa – South of lodge)
In the late afternoon sunlight, WE headed back towards Thamba and Thandi to see what they have been up to. WE found Thandi looking terribly unimpressed and slightly bored as WE approached. As the sun started its journey towards the western horizon, she came down from the tree and tore at the remains of the impala kill, which had been stripped down by her son earlier in the day.
(Thandi , Screenshot Credit: Danny nl Prox, safariLIVE, Chitwa – South of lodge)
As the end of the show rolled in, our ‘last minute leopard’ did not fail to live up to his name making an appearance right on our doorstep at the Vuyatela dam. Tingana walked into the road, lay down right in front of the vehicle giving us a positively thrilling end to the show.
Thursday 1 June 2017
The morning safari started in true winter form as the rays of sunshine broke the icy evening chill. Illuminated by the golden light two buffalo stood grazing peacefully, unaware of the scene that was about to unfold. WE saw the grass move and two sets of hungry eyes emerged – Nkuhuma lionesses had begun to play the patience game. Tawny muscles flexed in anticipation and eventually the two lionesses pounced. The buffalo out-maneuvered the hungry carnivores and the lionesses ended the hunt panting in defeat. They settled under a tree for the warmer part of the day. WE left them to rest with high hopes for a hunt in the evening.
(Nkuhuma hunting, Screenshot Credit: Fuzzmansparkles, safariLIVE, Djuma – Off buffelshoek cutline)
The Nkuhuma’s started off sunset safari lazing about but WE decided to stay with the pride to see whether they would amuse us later on…which they did. While they woke up slowly, WE found an unidentified lioness at Sydney’s Dam, calling softly in the darkness. As she called her relatives became mobile and moved towards the sounds of her deep calls. WE followed the Nkuhumas as they sauntered down the road until they crossed the boundary into Buffelshoek.
(Nkuhuma’s on road, Screenshot Credit:, safariLIVE, Djuma – Buffelshoek cutline)
Just when we thought the cat action had ceased for the evening, WE rushed to reports of a Birmingham male. WE found him sitting up regally, illuminated by the spotlights of the vehicles. It was a great way to end another day in the African bush!
(Birmingham boy, Screenshot Credit: Danny nl Prox, safariLIVE, Djuma – Sandy patch)
Thursday 2 June 2017
An unexpected and welcome surprise for the sunrise safari with the Styx moms and cubs, basking beneath a thicket in the cool morning and feasting on their buffalo kill. The cubs played intermittently and WE sat with the pride for a while. Hopefully the family will be there for more entertainment in the sunset safar!
(Stix pride, Screenshot Credit: Patricia Scott, safariLIVE, Chitwa – East of Lodge)