(Taking a break on his march to the Djuma dam, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The plot thickens. Just when a healthy looking Tingana reappeared in the heart of Djuma, (taking a bushbuck kill under a tree by the Vuyatela dam) so did the steely-eyed Hukumuri. From the southern part of the area Hukumuri marched directly toward a slumbering Tingana, scent marking along the way. He had veered off course by the time the sunset drive ended and we thought that a leopard vs leopard interaction had been narrowly avoided.
The next morning it became obvious that chaos had reigned during the night! Luckily for us we were able to catch a lot of it on the Vuyatela dam cam. Tingana’s bushbuck kill was stolen by a handful of hyenas, only to be stolen by none other than Hukumuri himself. He took it up a tree to feast upon it (as seen on the dam cam), only later to bring it back down to the ground to munch on it throughout the day.
Those who are firmly on the side of Tingana were none too happy that the interloper had finagled his way into Tingana’s vicinity certainly making it appear as though Hukumuri has successfully taken over a good chunk of the Duke’s territory.
The mystery interloper is becoming less and less of a mystery these days. Thanks to a handful of safariLIVE fans and a little bit of luck, we now have a good idea where Hukumuri has come from. It appears as though he was in the southern edges of the Kruger near Crocodile Bridge Camp in 2015. This means that he’s journeyed roughly 100 kilometers before arriving in Djuma and staking his claim as a now viable territorial male. The unknown interloper finally has a past.
Furthermore, we are now getting a sense of his character. Unsurprisingly, Hukumuri is a relentless and determined fellow. This became obvious as we saw him stake out a warthog burrow for no less than 24 hours.
(Thamba, licking his chops before going on a squirrel hunt, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Hukumuri’s presence hasn’t scared Thamba out of the area. In his travels, he tried to pounce upon a squirrel, but as in previous attempts while on camera, the photogenic leopard failed to catch his prey. His hunting skills must be better off-screen as Thamba looked exceptionally healthy and well fed.
That Thamba was simply hiding his hunting skills from us seems accurate for we found him with an impressive kill. The female Kudu carcass was so large in fact, that Thamba was unable to hoist it.
(Thandi’s cub, safe, sound and still rebellious, Screenshot Credit:Susan McDowell, safariLIVE, Djuma)
After seeing tracks for Thandi and her little cub in the area for days, we finally got to see the duo. The little cub was noticeably bigger and was as rambunctious as we remembered her. In spite of the seemingly stressful situation the mother and daughter are in with Hukumuri on the prowl, they seemed to be relaxed and healthy. During the time we spent with them, Thandi and cub sauntered past a towering elephant and played together as though they hadn’t a care in the world.
It makes one wonder if the leopards feel the state of flux as much as we do for we certainly don’t know what to expect from our felines. On Monday, when looking for Hosana up a tree, none other than Thandi surprised us from the base of the tree. She had clearly been lured there by the smell of a carcass. Realizing, however, that the kill was too well guarded by the young leopard, she went on the move. At first she meandered around thick brush, freezing for an endless amount of time before pouncing on a small, but nimble prey item. She meandered again, scent marking and trying her (still hapless) luck with a steenbok. After her two failures is seemed as though she was ready to return to her cub. She climbed a tree, chuffing in communication with the little one. She promptly came down and bolted straight for her growing progeny.
On Wednesday, Thandi was found with an large impala ram. In spite of the fact that she looked rather full, the ram looked barely fed upon. She did nibble on it a bit before wandering off into the bush, most likely to fetch her cub.
(Hosana stalking a buffalo herd, Screenshot Credit: Kim Lynn Blackhurst, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Any worries anyone may have about Hosana are definitely unnecessary. They young prince seems to be doing fabulously. We found him full and relaxed, protecting a well fed upon duiker carcass. He fed on it throughout the day, seemingly without a care in the world- or at least without a care on Djuma.
The next day we found Hosana at Treehouse dam watching the buffaloes drinking in hot sun. He then started stalking the buffaloes. After an hour and a half the precocious leopard started chasing them! Not so stealthy, the herd caught on and stampeded away. He gave up on the large prey and relaxed near the dam.
(Looking rather dejected, Screenshot Credit: Michelle Morning Star, safariLIVE, Chitwa)
After being chased off his bushbuck kill by hyenas and off of Djuma (by Hukumuri presumably), Tingana seems to have been solidly forced out of this part of his territory. It’s unpleasant news for anyone rooting for Thandi and her rebellious cub. We found him in his place of retreat- Chitwa. Here he was lying flat in the road, surrounded by noisy and exasperating guinea fowl. His body language indicated that he was not in a good mood.