The Sabi Sand
(Thamba, his usual photogenic self, Screenshot Credit: zoom-with-a-view, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thamba surprised us yet again this week as we stumbled upon him on Quarantine. This young leopard, although still needing substantial practice hunting large game, seems to be doing exceptionally well given that the new and potentially dangerous Hukumuri is on the prowl. Maybe next time we run into Thamba we’ll catch a glimpse of him finally catching up to his prey.
(Up in a tree, Xidulu’s favourite spot, Screenshot Credit: Cindy in Tennessee, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Xidulu, formerly known as the Igrid Dam Young Female, seems to be taking advantage of the territorial chaos that has swept through the area. The leopard, who has everyone talking about her particular beauty, is an avid hoister, taking her time with a steenbok carcass in the northeastern section of Djuma.
(Nsuku gazing up at Tingana’s hoisted impala, Screenshot Credit: Joy, safariLIVE, Chitwa)
We were able to spend time with three of the four Birmingham Boys this week. Two of the Boys and nearly the entire Nkuhuma Pride were getting some quality family time this Sunday afternoon. Tinyo was a bit separate from the group, however, lingering next to a young kudu that looked as if it had already been heavily fed upon. The rest of the sleepy pride and Nhena were lying next to a pan. As happens on hot days, a herd of elephants were also attracted to the pan. Even though there’s safety in numbers, the pride decided not to push their luck and left the pan to the much larger pachyderms. The lions’ smell was still in the air and the elephants decided that they too would rather avoid an unnecessary interaction with Africa’s top predator, proof that animals species will generally avoid interactions with each other whenever possible.
On the other side of Djuma, Nsuku was playing the scavenger. Tingana, who had been seen briefly earlier in the week in a weakened state, had hoisted an impala. When we arrived on the scene Nsuku was beneath the hoisted kill and Tinganga was barely visible in the tipy-top of a nearby tree. Nsuku looked as though he might try to climb the rain soaked tree to get at the half-eaten carcass, but instead chose to simply gaze longingly at it from below. His frustration became palpable as he let out an impressive series of calls; whether he was warning Tingana, calling out to his brothers or was irritated with the rain, one couldn’t really say.
(Very wet and marching in the bush, Screenshot Credit: Payton Payne, safariLIVE, Djuma)
It was the rainiest day of the season and rather than holding up underneath a tree, Thandi was on the move, not far from where a thin looking Tingana was seen; for those who are eager for Tingana to protect his territory and his young cub, their close proximity was a relief. We followed her through thick bush in the downpour, but it never became obvious if she was actively hunting or trying to find her young cub.
(Showing his usual intensity while sawing, Screenshot Credit: MaryAnn, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Hukumuri, the interloper, has become a safariLIVE mainstay as it appears as though he is here to stay. While getting to know a new leopard is exciting and while his eyes are notably piercing, his presence is nevertheless disconcerting. This was never more the case than on Monday when his path crossed very fresh Thandi and cub tracks. Thankfully, he was distracted by the hope of his next meal nearby. We could all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the little cub would live to see another day.
It seems as though Hukumuri is destined to be shrouded in mystery and drama. On Friday we caught up to Hukumuri doing his usual frantic zig-zagging and scent marking. However, he was not alone. There were brief sightings of another leopard very close by, a leopard whose identity we were never able to ascertain, and based on Hukumuri’s sawing and nervous demeanor, he was well aware of its presence.
(A family portrait at the pan, Screenshot Credit: Ali, safariLIVE, Djuma)
We’ve gotten a lot of face time with our resident lion pride this week, but the sighting that really took the cake was watching the pride attempt a buffalo hunt. We found the pride first thing in the morning and the entire pride was present. It was obvious that the five lionesses were eager to hunt and initially they spotted a termite mound inhabited by a warthog. Nothing came of their half-hearted efforts, but the vantage point from the mound did alert them to a nearby buffalo herd. The lionesses and a few of the sub-adults went into stalk mode. Unfortunately for the pride, (but not for the buffaloes) the herd caught on to the predators and stampeded away, the males chasing the lions away from the vulnerable calves. It was an intense glimpse into the lives of not only the Nkuhuma Pride, but into the protective nature of the buffaloes as well.
(Tingana’s last bites of his impala head, Screenshot Credit: Sara, safariLIVE, Chitwa)
From glimpses of him looking in need of a meal, to spotting him on top of a tree having been chased off his carcass by a scavenging Birmingham lion, it was obvious to all that Tingana had a rough week. Thursday night was no different. While he was polishing off his impala skull that he had been previously chased from, Tingana had some unexpected dinner guests. A herd of elephants meandered into the area in search of their beloved marulas. Initially Tingana hid in the bushes, but when he was surrounded on all sides he decided to make a run for it. The sudden appearance of a predator upset the elephants and they grumbled and trumpeted in his general direction as he frantically fled. Hopefully next week Tingana will have a better go at life in the bush.