Saturday 20 May
As the chilly night relented, the sunrise was welcomed on the Arathusa grasslands by the shivering WE crew. As WE were enjoying the golden sunrise, we were met with the golden gaze of the beautiful leopardess, Shadow, alert and on the lookout for potential danger or perhaps prey.
Shadow’s alert outline was soon not the solitary spot pattern to be illuminated against the grassy backdrop. A smaller bouncing bundle of spots soon made it’s appearance in the grass not far behind her.
Soon mom was on the move again, cub in tow and they soon disappeared from view leaving WE with warm hearts and good memories for the workday ahead.
In the golden hue of the evening sunlight, Shadow and her cub were still resting in the vicinity where they we left them earlier in the day. Shadow was resting in the shade of a tree keeping an eye out for her curious cub and protecting her fresh duiker kill. She wasn’t in the mood to entertain when WE found her and peacefully dozed by the time we departed.
(Shadow and cub, Screenshot Credit: Anna McDougald, safariLIVE, Arathusa Red Dam)
Caturday truly lived up to its name when Tingana’s muscular form appeared out of the brush we were heading home from drive. He was nonchalantly walking along the road stopping occasionally to mark his territory, reminding animal and human who is king in these lands. Belly bulging from a recent kill he lazily walked into the thicker bushes to end off the show in true Caturday fashion.
(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Payton Payne, safariLIVE, Djuma – Mamba road)
Tuesday 23 May 2017
After a couple of days with no cats in sight, one of the Birmingham boys, Nenha, decided to start the morning off by wandering nonchalantly across our path to our delight, breaking our three day cat fast. His muscular form and golden mane provided a good appetiser to the days cat line up. He only gave us a brief glimpse of himself before disappearing into the the drainage line and heading North.
As WE were heading out on the PM drive WE were hopeful to find our Birmingham Boy, Nenha, on the sunset safari. After a desperate search and several attempts at finding the king of the grasslands, WE managed to find the big boy….on foot. It was a breathtaking, exhilarating and slightly frightening encounter!
(Nenha, Screenshot Credit: Arran Hallas, safariLIVE, Djuma – North)
We were also greeted with an elegant outline perched upon a termite mound. The cat, which was later identified as Thandi, was alert and sniffing the air. She marked bushes intermittently as she moved about. She was clearly agitated being so far from her son, Thamba. The daughter of Karula made us chuckle fondly as we remarked that following her reminded us of following her mother Karula. The slender spotted form quickly moved down and around the termite mound and we had to bundu bash to keep up. Before long she eluded us and was on the move again.
(Thandi, Screenshot Credit: Arran Hallas, safariLIVE,Gowrie main – Cheetah Cutline)
After seeing Thandi we were surprised to find her son Thamba relaxing in a tree not far from herself. The young leopard has grown quite a bit since WE last encountered him and he seems to get more and more handsome as time progresses. The beautiful grandson of Karula presented us with a stunning vista posed against the bright blue sky, on occasion raising his head from his comfortable position, no doubt on the lookout for mum who was not far off. Thamba got up to show of his stunning silhouette against the skyline moving with the grace his mother and grandmother’s genetics has endowed upon him. He returned to his comfortable perch as WE reluctantly left his side at the end of the drive.
(Thamba, Screenshot Credit: John, safariLIVE,Gowrie main – Cheetah Cutline)
When darkness fell, a lion’s call could be heard in the distance. Likely the call of one of Nenha’s Birmingham Brothers. Nhena bellowed over the grasslands as a spectacular answer that reminds all the inhabitants of the surrounding bushveld who is indeed the king. Nenha rolled onto his back and then promptly got to his feet…possibly to assist his brother in the pursuits of the night. Where was that juicy buffalo again?
(Nenha, Screenshot Credit: Payton Payne, safariLIVE,Weavers nest Junction)
Wednesday 24 May 2017
The morning dawned bright and cold, WE shivering set out on another search for our beloved felines. Tingana made a brief appearance early on giving us a glimpse of his golden form in the thick bush and sending us bundu bashing until WE lost track of him.
Later on the drive a vague outline appeared in the grass, barely visible, once again demonstrating the effectiveness of the leopard camouflage. There was some debate as to the identity of the cat as it was lying facing away from the camera. When it eventually looked up WE were surprised to see Tingana once again. The big muscular male rose to his feet, clearly irritated that WE managed to find him hiding in the grass. After a short pursuit, Tingana decided to ignore his admirers finding himself a more comfortable piece of grass to lounge on and commence the morning grooming session. WE eventually left him when he decided to lie down in a semi-comatose state which is the norm for the big felines during the daylight hours.
(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Canadian Emily, safariLIVE,Treehouse Dam)
Tingana made yet another appearance in the golden hours of the setting sun, his muscular form strutting down the road and marking his territory as WE and some of the other surrounding game reserve guests followed suit. As the sun began to set, he started sawing. His deep voice booming across the African landscape announcing his presence predators and prey alike.
Thursday 25 May 2017
Dawn broke in a chorus of birdsong serenading unbeknownst to them, the romantic dance between two lion lovers as it were. TInyo was found in pursuit of a young mystery lioness. As she moved along, he followed suit not long after. For a moment he paused in his amorous pursuit to pose atop a termite mound looking absolutely regal in a real life lion king moment. The lovers ambled along and eventually settled for the day in a patch of comfy grass. WE left to their romantic nap in the hopes of returning on the PM drive to find them consummating their romantic morning meander.
(Tinyo, Screenshot Credit: Patricia Scott, safariLIVE,Treehouse Dam)
The afternoon rolled in, bringing with it the golden hue of the lowveld afternoon. Adding to the golden afternoon were two sets of golden eyes that chose to join us for a short stroll along the Cheetah cutline to start off the afternoon drive. WE found Thandi wandering along the Cheetah cutline path, she was shortly joined by her beautiful male cub, Thamba, bounding up to her before giving WE a unified salute and disappearing into the thick bush for the afternoon.
(Thandi and Thamba, Screenshot Credit: Saara, safariLIVE, Cheetah cutline)
Just when WE thought we had our quota of Leopards for the afternoon, we stumbled upon Inkanyeni accidentally. The regal female was marking her territory and spoiled us a model pose in the road before moving to a patch of grass to rest in before dusk settled. WE left her dozing happily in the golden sunlight before moving on to search for other animals as the dusk began to blanket the plains.
(Inkanyeni, Screenshot Credit: Verona C, safariLIVE, Cheetah road – Cheetah plains)
26 May 2017
The morning dawned misty and cool in the greater kruger casting an eerie appearance over the grasslands. The Nkuhuma pride were on the move appearing invigorated by the cooler weather. When WE found them, the cubs were playing and wrestling one another while lioness mothers gazed upon their young fondly. The cubs went from climbing trees to bounding about. On occasion, the lionesses would be on the move and the cubs would follow suit..
The playful banter was interrupted by a movement in the thick bush that caught the lionesses attention. The lionesses were suddenly alert and the cubs could pick up on the more serious stature their mother’s body language had assumed. The youngsters watched attentively as the lionesses demeanor evolved into a hunting posture.
WE spent the morning following the pride through the thick bush as they trailed behind a potential prey that was invisible to human senses. WE had to give up the chase when the pride disappeared into bush that was too thick for our vehicles to traverse.
(Nkuhuma pride, Screenshot Credit: Payton Payne, safariLIVE, Djuma – Sandy Patch)
If our drive wasn’t interesting enough with all the cats around WE were excited to hear that the Wild dogs were also in the vicinity and we rushed to their whereabouts and found them on a fresh impala kill, or what was left of it anyway. The dogs were playing around the carcass and showed all the endearing traits WE has come to love about these sociable creatures. Far too soon our turn to view them was over and WE had to move on. What a magnificent start to the day.
(Sands Breakaway pack, Screenshot Credit: Jason Jones, safariLIVE, Arathusa – Near Airstrip)