The Cat Report 3 – 10 March
Romance was in the air with a Birmingham Boy, Nhena, and the youngest Nkuhuma lioness. They spent their evening sporadically mating with long intervals of lying around in the long grass. She seemed a lot less interested than he was – possibly playing hard to get? Who knows!
(Nhema looking lovingly at an Nkuhuma, Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The heat of the day really hit the Sands Pack, they lay flat underneath shaded spots throughout the day, jumping in and out of a mud bath to cool off. By dusk they were up and ready to get on the move. As wild dogs are known to be cheeky, this was proven when they got too close to an elephant but quickly learnt their lesson as the bull chased them away in a grumpy huff. A beautiful moment as they all walked along the road together with the sunset gleaming in front of them, sadly they crossed north and out of our traverse.
(A goodbye for now to the Sands Pack. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The return of the rainy weather brought with it none other than Mvula! This aging and now nomadic male hasn’t been seen on Djuma for quite sometime. The tatty eared leopard slowly ambled his way south through the reserve after crossing in from Buffelshoek. He made no attempt to reclaim his once vast territory and seemed to be focussed on staying out of trouble. He wandered for a while before eventually melting into an impenetrable wall of damp thick greenery. Later that afternoon his tracks were found marching west, unfortunately it seemed he then crossed out of our traverse.
A picturesque scene of a cheetah brother strolling towards the pan on Cheetah Plains. He looked dapper in his golden coat as the sunset sparkled on him. He was beaming with endless pride. The cheetah lay next to the pan, breathing heavily, slowly digesting his recent meal as his stomach looked rather full. Finally he gathered up some energy and walked gracefully through the grass, but sadly he left our traverse and we said a goodbye.
(A cheetah brother strolling with pride. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
WE started off our wet and cold morning with lots of excitement. Queen Karula decided to make an appearance at the tent. She was startled by a young Nyala, but quickly gave up and carried on walking through the wet grass. She made her way to Quarantine where she found a comfortable Marula tree to melt into, and that is where she stayed! That afternoon WE searched high and low for the royal family, alas there was no luck in finding these ever elusive cats in the lengthening verdant grass. Just as darkness threatened to consume all hope of finding Africa’s stealthiest cat they were spotted. Karula was draped across a wide and comfortable marula bough, tail and legs hanging in a similar fashion to an abandoned marionette. Her two growing cubs however were full of youthful vigor, young Hosana chased flies and swatted irritating blades of grass while young Xongile fed hungrily on a fresh impala kill. Once the pretty little princess has consumed her fill she set about re-killing the already limp carcass.
(Queen Karula looking golden. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Karula wasn’t the only one avoiding the soggy grounds after the rain. Quarantine lay high up in a tree on Cheetah Plains, looking extremely content with the position he found. Mr Q looked as handsome as ever, a perfect coat to match his strikingly bold eyes.
(A very content Quarantine. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
We thought a hyena had the same idea as we did – peeping to see what the royal family were getting up to during the early hours of the morning. The hyena was actually popping by to pick up it’s hidden kill from the water. The leopards briefly investigated to see where it had been stashed, in the hope of a free meal – but no such luck. Later that afternoon WE caught up with the royal of the bushveld once again. They spent most of the warm afternoon lazing about in the shade and gazing with mild curiosity at the happenings around them. Hosana and Xongile, consumed with boredom, then played halfheartedly before returning to the serious business of napping.
(The ever so inquisitive Xongile. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The mysterious Thandi and her cub Thamba made an appreciated appearance during the sunrise drive. They were lazing in separate marula trees on Chitwa. Both of them had found completely ideal shady spots in preparation for the heat of the day to hit. WE left them as their slumber became deeper. The sun was already hung in the west casting golden light across the landscape, We searched the Chitwa Chitwa airstrip for any signs of a tail flick in the grass or a dangling paw from a tree. It was the latter that gave away Thandi sleeping soundly in the canopy of a tall tree. She rested soundly and soon WE went in search of her young cub Thamba. Unfortunately there was no sign of the bat eared boy so WE left Thandi to her evening nap.
(Thamba in the perfect shaded spot. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The inky predawn light and serene atmosphere was cut but the alarmed snorts of terrified impala that resounded across the open plains of Quarantine clearings. Impala dashed about in chaos, their eyes wide and panicked. Two tawny shapes tore after them, barely visible through the thick, lush carpet of greenery that has engulfed Djuma in the past weeks. Finally Amber Eyes and the youngest lioness of the Nkuhuma pride were back! The lionesses fruitlessly chased nimble antelope for a few minutes before setting their sights on the looming figures of a mother giraffe and her calf. The giraffes saw the muscular cats coming from a mile off and gently loped away leaving the lionesses panting and hungry for yet another day. Disappointed, Amber Eyes and the youngest of the pride slunk into a thick drainage line.
(A disappointed Nkuhuma lioness. Screenshot Credit: Maggi Tumulty, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Hosana looked like he was carved out of gold as the afternoon sun shone onto his flawless face. WE were on foot with this gentlemen, he was extremely unphased and not bothered by our presence in the slightest. Slowly he got thicker and thicker into the bush and disappeared from our sight.
(The golden Hosana. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Another big cat was found on foot! This time it was a lovely lioness. WE nearly didn’t even notice her as she melted into the camouflage of a canopy of bushes. The only thing that was moving were her eyes as she watched us inquisitively. There was no chance she was going to stand up and lose her comfortable and shaded spot.
The Royal Family really do appear to have blue blood sometimes. They looked prouder than ever as they marched as a happy family along the road before the darkness crept in. Karula was occasionally scent marked to remind everyone else who the queen is!
(The royal family playing follow the leader. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The Nkuhumas had company, as two of the Birmingham boys lazed around with them on Arathusa. The dashing males went by the names of Tinyo and Mfumo. Cubs still nibbled and scavenged on the last few pieces of meat from a recent nyala kill. The ‘adults’ seemed content and satisfied, ready to settle into a bit of a snooze.
(The Nkuhuma cubs slowly feeling more satisfied. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Karula called out for her dearly beloved cubs, and due to their diligence, off they came scurrying towards her. The gorgeous trio set off to scope out different lunch options. Karula spotted an impala and used Hosana as a distraction. Her tactics never prevailed, but alas the day was ahead of them and who knew what was to come as they kept heading south!
(Mom checking in with her daughter. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
WE came across the handsome Hosana on foot again, while he lay underneath a thick bush protecting himself from the harsh rays of the African sun. He lay next to a cool pan and dipped in and out of sleep, dreaming about herds of impala and maybe even nyala.
Later on in the drive Hosana had linked up with his sister, Xongile. They paced up and down drawing imaginary zig zags along the road as nightfall approached. Playtime was about to begin as the bush became darker and more and more mysterious.
(Hosana catching flies. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A pleasant surprise as WE had three members of the Lower Sabi Dispersal wild dog pack pay a bit of a visit to Djuma. Although they never stayed very long, it was still a special sighting. There was impala nearby and the suspense built up as we thought that the dogs might have dinner soon, but unfortunately they had no such luck.
(Wild dogs on the move. Screenshot Credit: Lily Brown, safariLIVE, Djuma)