The Cat Report 24 February – 3 March

24 February

Lions don’t look as graceful in trees as leopards do, but it was such a special sight to watch one of the Nkuhuma cubs at least try. After a good attempt, he carefully, one paw at a time, came back down to solid ground to play with his siblings. A picturesque moment as all 6 cubs peeked their heads over a termite mound. The lionesses called for their babies, and took an evening family stroll down the road – causing a bit of a road block in fact!

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(A typical teenage identity crisis. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

25th February

After the rain we’ve had, territorial marking was in order for all the animals. Tingana was on a mission to do so. He patrolled around and marked out all the corners of his kingdom with his butter scented urine.  As it got darker, he prowled his way to Djuma Dam where we left him.

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(Tingana territorial marking. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Underneath the extremely grey and gloomy African skies, The Royal Family also marked out their division of the kingdom. The cubs didn’t really seem to know what their mother was doing, but at least they tried to imitate her by urinating too. The smell of butter popcorn was in the air once again! They strolled around with their recently fed bellies, although, their bellies weren’t full – could they have lost the kill to a hyena, or was it just a small kill? We’re unsure.

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(The Royal Family marking their territory after the rains. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

26th February

The great Queen along with her two royal offspring had been found crossing east from Arathusa to Djuma. WE followed the slender spotted cats until they eventually cut north heading towards one of the favourite haunts, Treehouse Dam. Upon arrival both Karula and Xongile sprung up a large dead marula while the young prince Hosana lay in thick verdant grass sleeping off the evening’s activities. Later that afternoon, Queen Karula relaxed on the branch of a tree like it was as comfortable as a hammock. She then changed her mind and crawled down to lay in the thick grass, dozing off slowly but surely into a deep sleep. Completely un-phased about the whereabouts of her two cubs.

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(A very comfortable Karula. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

WE had the most amazing experience with Brent and Hosana. Xongile was spotted first, hiding in the grass, not up to much at all. Hosana appeared a little while later, and slowly made his way closer and closer to Brent’s side of the dam. His slow creep turned into a gentle stalk, watching Brent and Bryan with big and bright inquisitive eyes. He peered over a termite mound with great curiosity a few meters away. This was typical behaviour from leopard cubs, he meant no harm. Brent’s smile was beaming!

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(Hosana’s big and bright inquisitive eyes. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Later on that evening, Xongile finally made a move and strolled around the dam. She had a lost look on her face, hence the contact call to try and find her snoozing mother Karula. WE left her to walk into the darkness of the night. As we looked down onto the dam one last time before our stream ended, suddenly a hyena appeared on the left side of the dam and curious Hosana on the right. Suspense was at an all time high for the sunrise safari!

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(Beautiful Xongile looking a little lost. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

27 February

A grey and dreary Monday morning lay in wait for the safariLIVE crew, but a perfect combination of fantastic felines was all that was needed to chase away those Monday blues! It began with the supercharged royal cubs, they chased, played and pounced for the entire duration of the sunrise safari. Aerial acrobatics was the name of the game as they leaped through the humid atmosphere. Of course the morning was made all the better with the arrival of Queen Karula in the last few seconds of the sunrise safari.
(Young Xongile and Hosana playing in a marula tree, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the west WE had a brief catch up with one of Karula’s eldest daughters, Shadow. She had been found pacing north along MMM methodically stopping every now and then to re-mark her territorial boundary. Unfortunately WE were not able to get a good look at her belly to establish whether or not she still had suckle marks. She then ducked off into Simbambili and after a good rub up against a dead tree we lost visual as she disappeared into a wall of thick green grass.

The morning was topped off with a sighting of the Nkuhuma pride. Three lionesses and six large cubs were found just inside Arathusa resting up in a sheltered thicket. In true lion style, the cats remained flatter than pancakes except for their large round bellies. The lions barely paid any attention to the movement of the vehicle and the energy peak of this sighting was when one lioness rolled over.

(Sleepy Nkuhuma lioness taking it easy on a Monday morning, Screenshot Credit: Tommy Buch, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

In the evening Thandi lazed and relaxed in the grass, and finally gathered enough energy to jump up and scent mark her territory along the road. She was in no rush whatsoever. Bugged by biting flies plaguing her, a smart move was made as she climbed up a Tamboti Tree to escape from them.

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(Thandi escaping the biting flies. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhumas were completely flat in Arathusa at the end of the day. Talk about Monday blues! They occasionally stood up to yawn and maybe even stretch, but other than that they were completely happy to nap without any guilty feelings.

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(An Nkuhuma lioness having the occasional stretch. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Arathusa)

28 February

A royal start to the day as the family were found in Quarantine. Karula had a stare off with a hyena as it approached her family, the hyena diligently listened and went a different direction. Karula climbed back up a Marula tree, feeling snug. Xongile had clearly recently caught a scrub hare, as she carried it up a tree and gobbled it up all to herself. When she was finished, Hosana climbed up to scavenge for any leftovers, but no such luck!

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(Xongile chewing on a scrub hare. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhumas had chosen a beautiful scenic spot to start their day. They lay in between the dappled shadows underneath a few small trees. A cub licked and licked her mother’s belly in an attempt to try and stimulate some milk. The instict for suckling is still there but the milk is not.

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(The Nkuhumas lazing around. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

1 March

WE watched the golden sunrise with the Royal family as Karula stood silhouetted on top of a termite mound. All three of them had a sparkle in their eyes. Karula disappeared momentarily while we heard birds shouting in a nearby tree, and as we suspected she lay gracefully on one of the high branches. Xongile followed her mother up the tree, Hosana had an attempt to climb too, but was distracted by grooming himself instead. Suddenly Karula climbed down the tree as if she had spotted something, but we lost her as she disappeared into the thick grass. Later that afternoon WE managed to catch up with the royal family once again. This time they were on the move and Karula had predatory intent in her eyes. Hosana and Xongile hung back at first playing quietly while the Queen began her stalk on a nearby herd of impala. Eventually Hosana became bored with his sister and sauntered up to his mother mid hunt. She hissed her disapproval before their cover was blown. Alarm calls rang through the air and the sleek spotted cats slid into the darkness of another African night.

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(Karula quickly climbing down the tree. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The Nkuhumas were bundled together underneath a group of Tamboti trees. There was fresh elephant dung nearby, which meant the lions had recently found this spot to lounge in after the elephants had passed. The pride gathered energy for the heat of the African sun that was expected to come that day. Very little movement occurred between drives and even late into that night.

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(A sleepy Nkuhuma cub. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)

2 March

The morning was off to a great start once again with the Nkuhuma pride still tucked away safely with their six quickly growing cubs. The cats remained flat and uninterested in moving for the entirety of the day. The cubs looked to be in great condition, their mange is improving and they are growing up quickly. Some are almost as big as the lionesses. The cats slept soundly well into the darkness and eventually WE made our way out.

(Sleepy Nkuhuma cub, Screenshot Credit: Gail Murphy, safariLIVE, Djuma)

In the heart of Djuma two of the long missed Birmingham male lions were found sleeping soundly. Tinyo and Mfumo looked as though they had been in numerous bar fights while they were away, fresh new cuts and scratches scarred across their once pristine muzzles. Mfumo’s eye looks to be healing slowly while Tinyo seems to have developed a twitch in his nose. The boys remained in a state of lethargy for the entire day and well into the twilight hours.

(A very sleepy Mfumo rests in the shade, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Later on that afternoon WE also managed to catch up with the royal family. It seemed that Karula had indeed been successful the night before and brought down a large impala ram. By the time WE caught up with them the kill was well embedded in a dense thicket, all WE could make out was a few slowly shifting spots of one of the cubs feasting. Karula lay on a nearby branch sunning herself, eventually the cub was revealed to be none other than the greedy guts himself, Hosana. Karula then disappeared into the verdant wall while Hosana lay flat and fat in sunlight grass.

(Queen Karula gazes regally into the setting sun, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

3 March

A royal start to the day with Hosana and Xongile playing at Twin Dams. Hosana kept a wary eye on the water and the large crocodile that had taken up residence there recently. Once his fascination over the crocodile had faded the cubs played together before bounding across the southern boundary of our traverse.

(Hosana and Xongile keeping a wary eye out for Twin Dams new resident croc, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Although not much could top a sighting with the royal cubs, the Sands pack of wild dogs had other ideas! Reports of the dogs rushing around just to the south of Djuma got all our adrenaline pumping and our hearts racing. Eventually our patience paid off as 15 African painted wolves trotted into Djuma. The dogs it seemed had already worn themselves out for the morning as they paced at a somewhat sedated speed through Djuma. Eventually they came to rest in a dense shady thicket for the day.

(Sands pack of wild dogs crossing into Djuma, Screenshot Credit: Ravi Teja, safariLIVE, Djuma)