It is with a strange feeling of deja vu that I watch the Avoca males as they appear to establish themselves in the northern Sabi Sands. The easy peace at the beginning of the week was shattered for the Nkuhumas when the Avocas moved in and promptly divested them of their buffalo kill right in the centre of Djuma. The Avocas have roared their way through the long winter nights without a response from the Birmingham Boys, who seem to be ensconced further to the south. Without the defense of the erstwhile territorial males, the Nkuhumas are left with no choice but to scatter and remain as unobtrusive as possible while their sub-adult youngsters grow. If Amber Eyes does indeed have cubs, it could spell disaster for her. Steve found two sub-adults on Friday looking lonely and somewhat disconcerted by current events-we can only hope that the rest of the pride managed to reunite with them.
Scattered lions, stolen buffalo kills and separated cubs. It feels very similar to three years ago when the Birmingham Boys took over. It meant trouble for the Nkuhumas then and it means trouble for them now.
With the Avocas currently otherwise occupied, the Styx pride have been safe on Chitwa and, judging by their enormous bellies, have been living up to their pride name in hastening their prey’s journey to the afterlife. Albeit scratching all the while.
While we are at the beginning of transition when it comes to the lion territories, our leopards seem to have reached a gentleman’s (and lady’s) agreement. Hukumuri paid a visit to the Vuyatela dam but Tingana, so easily discounted, is determined to prove his naysayers wrong and has been seen and heard regularly on Djuma as well. The two males appear to have split Djuma between them, though it remains to be seen where the final line in the sand will be drawn. A similar uneasy truce seems to have been reached between Thandi and Xidulu, though Xidulu has proved elusive this week. Long may the leopard peace last because little Tlalamba, innocent in all of this, could so easily become a casualty. Fortunately, she has the wise and experienced Thandi to keep her safe and well-fed.
Ralph managed to complete the big cat trifecta this week with a very long distance view of the female cheetah and her charismatic twosome. Although not the best view we have had of the family, it is heartening that she is still spending time in the area and means that she could be spotted (haha) on Djuma more regularly.
Of course, the subject of cheetah brings us neatly to a summary of the Maasai Mara cat sightings. Scott has shown the patience of someone historically famous for their patience and has been at Kakenya’s den site every single day this week. She has rewarded his patience by: staying hidden all day; walking straight across the international boundary into Tanzania and killing a gazelle out of sight. Nevertheless, persistence always pays off when it comes to wildlife and we have been treated to some stunning views of this special cat. The most important thing is that Kakenya keeps her five fluff balls safe and sound and we know that when she is ready to show them the world (and show them to the world), Scott will be there. Waiting patiently.
Systematic searching paid off in more than one way this week when we finally stumbled upon the Sausage Tree Pride. Their unusual nervousness was easily explained when they revealed their special secret: a tiny 6 week old cub belonging to one of the youngest lionesses. The care and love shown by the rest of the pride, especially Kinky Tail, made the weeks of searching all worthwhile. Naturally, we now have absolutely no idea where they have disappeared to.
Our search for the Sausages also meant that we found the Owino Pride (formerly known as the Small Sausages) almost every single day. They are covering large distances in search of food, often moving very close to the Sausage Tree Pride. This would tie in to what we’ve been told about the fact that the two adult lionesses actually split from the Sausages when their current cubs were born. However, that was well over a year ago and with a new cub and a first time mother, there is no knowing how the STP would react if they were to see the Owinos in their territory.
Written by: Jamie Paterson
Cover image by: Scott Dyson