Lions on the landingstrip greeted the safariLIVE crew as an autumnal carpet of marbled cloud shielded the bush from an unrelenting sun.. The Styx pride complete with two healthy cubs and three of the Birmingham males lay full bellied and in the open. The lionesses huddled with an impressive Nsuku while Tinyo and Mfumo lay further apart and tucked away in long grass. The cubs appear to be making a recovery from their mangy state. The lions remained tucked and huddled together for the majority of the day and well into the darkest hours of the night.
(Mfumo stretches out while his brother and the Styx sleep, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Far removed from the sleeping lions was an explosion of excitement on Cheetah Plains. A caracal had been spotted streaking off into the undergrowth. But being the ever determined team WE are it was soon discovered again, if even only for a moment. This is only the second time WE have been able to put one of these small, mysterious cats on camera. It’s rust coloured pelt disappeared flawlessly into the verdant ocean of grass and it was decided to leave the tufty eared caracal to it’s evening business.
(An elusive caracal watches us carefully before slinking off, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)
Another roaring start to the day with one of the Styx lionesses and an amorous Birmingham male. The lions were once again located on the Arathusa airstrip. Nsuku, the male in attendance, faffed and fawned over his female counterpart relentlessly. Later on that afternoon she finally gave in to his numerous advances and the pair mated at least twice before the sun sank over the western horizon and it was time to say goodbye.
(Loving lions cuddle up for a prolonged day of napping, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa.)
Back on Djuma an old safariLIVE favourite popped his spotted head out to say hello. Mvula had been found resting up on the northern boundary. He spent most of the afternoon fast asleep in golden grass. Once the sun had set and the heat had dissipated he stretched out his aging bones and began to slowly make his way north east. Interestingly he stopped on occasion to take in a whiff of something intriguing and scent mark over it, behaviour that is not usually associated with a leopard beyond his prime. Eventually he slunk off across the northern boundary and melted into darkness.
(Mvula out, about and on the prowl, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The morning was off to a speedy start with Africa’s fastest land mammal. The cheetah brothers had been found on Cheetah Plains slowly ambling their way south to Mala Mala. The brothers walked regally through the blazing sun and swaying sea of long grass before eventually they became nothing more than two black specs in the distance.
(One of the cheetah brother casually glances over his shoulder at all the commotion following him down the road, Screenshot Credit: Louise Pavid, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains.)
Another warm afternoon was spent with the Styx pride lulling about in their new favourite spot on Arathusa airstrip. The tawny cats had managed to catch themselves a warthog earlier in the day and once their appetites had been satiated they spent the rest of the afternoon lying flat and fat in the sun. The cubs looked to be doing well and every now and then they would gently greet mom or a sibling before flopping down and back to sleep.
The Styx it seemed had finally digested enough of their porky meal, from the day before, to entertain the thought of moving about. The cubs waddled about, their swollen bellies swinging from side to side. They fluff balls played and pounced as the adults rested out if the unrelenting heat. Later that afternoon the scene had calmed substantially and all members of the pride plus their Birmingham male consort spent the rest of the afternoon dozing in the shade.
(Fluffy Styx cub lays next to one of the Birmingham males, Screenshot: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
A spotted surprise lay in wait for the safariLIVE crew on this cool and cloudy morning. Tingana had been found patrolling his territory along the northern boundary of Djuma. He paced with purpose taking every opportunity to sniff around for the potential presence of intruders, once the investigation of each green bushel was complete he turned his back, lifted his tail and scent marked thoroughly. Eventually the toll of constant territory maintenance began to show and he flopped down in a heap of rosettes tucked well out of sight in the centre of large green bush. Later that evening after hours of searching he finally popped out of his chosen castle of greenery. The impressive male paced intently down a dark and dusty road scent marking as he went. Eventually WE left the dominant male to his evening business.
(Tingana, in infrared, taking a brief reprise from his territorial patrol, Screenshot Credit: Sandy NY, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The morning began still and quiet, blood red skies gave way to washed out blues as the sun traced a fiery line on its journey from east to west. Reports of a big male leopard kept the game drive radios chattering constantly as guides scanned the north western corner of Djuma looking for any sign of the prince of cats. Out of nowhere, he appeared on a white sandy road before quickly moving off into an ocean of drying grass. Eventually WE caught up and found ourselves in the presence of Tingana. Again, he was determined to refresh his territorial boundaries and paced intently through the veld sniffing and scent marking as he went. After spending some quality time with the large male WE left the sighting to allow other excited safari goers a chance to spend some time with, what is often considered, the most elusive of big cats.
(Tingana out on patrol, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)