Sunday the 25th of September
Sunday lunch was the order of the day for the Nkuhuma pride lionesses, their eight cubs and one amorous Birmingham male. The exertions of the hunt had clearly been responsible for large lion appetites. By the time WE arrived on the scene a great quantity of the carcass had already been consumed. The cubs played with ever growing enthusiasm as the adults attempted to sleep off the beefy beach balls they had each swallowed. The cubs nagged at their moms and aunts for some time and once bored of this, they then engaged in a tree climbing competition which resulted in a beautiful scene with four fluffy little bums all perched upon an Apple Leaf branch.
(Four little Nkuhuma cubs perched in a tree, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The Birmingham male in attendance was still recovering from his facial wound. It appeared to be on the mend as most of the swelling had gone down, yet the gaping wound still wept with red-tinged plasma. However, his injury did not seem to put him off his constant affectionate attentions being paid to the youngest of the Nkuhuma pride. The pair mated a few times with the young lioness showing less and less interest as each copulation came to an end. The sighting continued in vein until the sun had set and the darkness grew in long dim fangs across the Sabi Sand.
(Nkuhuma lioness mid yawn, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Monday the 26th of September
The day dawned fresh and damp with a blanket of cloud shielding the slowly greening landscape from the harsh African sun. Seeing as it was a cooler start to the day this meant the lions were up and about. When WE arrived back at the scene where four of the five incredible Nkuhuma pride had brought down a massive buffalo bull, the cubs, as per usual, were up and about in all their terrorising playfulness. They nagged the lionesses continually either demanding some loving attention or access to a nutritious milk-filled mammary. Eventually the cubs managed to rouse the lionesses and it was back to feeding on the now less than appetising, fly-covered buffalo carcass. Two day old meat had absolutely no impact on the lions whatsoever, they’ve eaten worse in the past after all and even still, rotting internal organ make great cub toys! The cubs fought over and wrestled with a long piece of the buffalo’s trachea.
(Nkuhuma cub with the best toy ever, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Once the pride and cubs had sufficiently gorged themselves on buffalo they slowly ambled their way down to a muddy wallow for a morning drink. There we found the fifth Nkuhuma lioness accompanied by one of the Birmingham males, made distinct by his weeping and slowly swelling facial wound. The injury appeared to be getting worse once again. He rubbed it constantly and flicked his tail in painful frustration. Every now and then he would shake his head no doubt causing himself great agony. Yet the gaping wound did not distract him from his amorous affections. Every time the young Nkuhuma lioness moved he was at her side, he nudged gently and enticed her to mate with him. Eventually she gave in, yet with each passing copulation she became less and less interested in his advances. This culminated in a particularly vicious swat right across his infected nose!
(Injured Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
A short distance away WE discovered yet another Birmingham male. He was immaculate, with very little facial scarring and a gorgeous thick golden mane; he embodied the king of the beasts in all his glory. He slowly strode towards the pride as his windswept mane flicked in a light breeze and eventually came to a stop within the direct eyeline of his injured brother and his beautiful Nkuhuma consort. The lioness seemed quite taken with this new arrival and tried several time to move towards him. But the injured Birmingham would have none of this traitorous behaviour and continually growled his disapproving warnings. Eventually the cats came to a stalemate, the brothers lay some distance from each other while the Nkuhuma lioness rested in between them looking bored.
(Beautiful Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later on the sunset safari the lions had moved away from the kill into a thick shady drainage line. The blazing sun had evaporated the clouds and the sky shone a crystal clear blue. When WE arrived at the sighting all the lions were flat, fat and content. The cubs suckled while the lionesses growled in sleepy agitation. The lions were somewhat spread out over the scene and it took some serious navigation skills to find the mating pair. But eventually the cats were found resting a short distance away from the rest of the pride. Two brave little cubs decided to hang out with the grumpy injured Birmingham and their beautiful young aunt. Once the sun had set and the crepuscular rays slowly faded to the west romantic action took place. The lioness now simply submitting more out impatience than biological need. WE eventually left the sighting as night fell while the lions enjoyed a late evening drink at Buffelshoek dam.
(Stunning Nkuhuma cub, Screenshot Credit: Hélène van Dijk, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Tuesday the 27th of September
The morning began with one of the Birmingham males resting up on Djuma’s northern most boundary. As the Birmingham reign continues each lion is becoming easier and easier to identify. The large impressive male with his distinctive split lip groomed casually as low contact calls echoed from across Buffelshoek cutline. The Nkuhuma pride had reportedly made yet another buffalo kill in the area. Soon the male stood, stretched out his muscular body and waltzed, as only the king of the jungle can, across the northern boundary.
(Split lip Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Paula Ross, safariLIVE, Djuma)
The Nkuhuma pride are known for their veracious appetites and what ever kill they had in Buffelshoek was soon finished. They were found relaxing near Chele pan on the sunset safari. The cubs grow in boldness everyday and when WE arrived a few lone fluff balls had ventured forth for a drink. The lionesses lay tucked away behind some thick trees, their tawny shapes just visible through the fresh new flush of green. The cubs were up to their usual tricks, not a stick or piece of dung was safe. Eventually the lionesses came for a drink and flopped right next to the water’s edge. Eventually WE had to leave as the final moments of the sunset safari ticked away.
(Four brave Nkuhuma cubs go for a drink, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
All hail, the Queen of Djuma has returned. Once again, the amazing Herberth had managed to track down Karula and her two cubs on a fresh bushbuck kill near the Galago pan. The Queen was found hunkered down in a thick deep dry river bed lined with Tamboti trees. She fed on the carcass for a while before she moved off, quietly chuffing to her two gorgeous cubs. Hosana was first on the scene and he made his way to the kill quickly. He fed greedily for most of the afternoon while his stunning mother sunned herself on the edge of the drainage line. Eventually the sky began to darken as the sun once again slipped away beyond the western horizon and it was time to leave the lovely leopard family to their nightly activities.
(Young Hosana arrives at the site of the kill, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Wednesday the 28th of September
The morning burst into action at the sighting with Karula. When Jamie arrived the Queen was feeding happily with the kill now hoisted up a skew Tamboti. Out of nowhere an entire herd of Nyala rushed past, they paid the leopard absolutely no mind whatsoever, and interestingly Karula ignored one of her favourite prey species as they dashed beneath her. There are few animals in the bush that elicit terror in such a way. Soon we had the answer, the Sabi Sand Half Tail pack was back! Puppy pandemonium turned into absolute carnage as they wild dogs killed a young Nyala lamb. Within record time the dogs had finished their meal and were gone just as fast as they had appeared!
(Sabi Sand Half Tail pack of wild dog make quick work of a nyala kill, Screenshot Credit: Marieke van Nistelrooij, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Once Karula was satisfied that the scene was safe she darted out of the tree and quickly gathered up the remains of the dog kill showing off the opportunistic nature of the big cats. Once safely hoisted she called out to her cubs to come and enjoy the spoils. This time Xongile was the cub that arrived. She turned her little royal nose up at the doggy nyala and was content to feed on what remained of the bushbuck kill. Hosana on the other hand didn’t budge from his very lofty hiding place and instead watched carefully for the rest of the morning. The beautiful spotted cats were found again later on the sunset safari. This time Hosana had traded places with Xongile and he gobbled up what little scraps remained on the kill. Karula helped of course and eventually all was gone. The beautiful spotted cats then groomed themselves meticulously for the rest of the afternoon.
(Xongile feeding on the bushbuck kill, Screenshot Credit: Jennifer Baird, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Of course a day could never be complete without a sighting of at least some of the Nkuhuma pride. Brent managed to catch up with the youngest Nkuhuma lioness and the injured Birmingham male on both the sunrise and sunset safari’s. The big tawny cats remained flat and content for the majority of the day upon the Buffelshoek dam wall. It looked like bad news for the Birmingham male however, his nose had once again swollen like a giant balloon and a closer inspection of the wound revealed yet another maggot infestation. He nagged the weeping wound constantly and shook his head in frustration. His paw was stained red with blood from constant rubbing. The lioness eventually stood and wandered off into the thicket of tree and maze of drainage lines behind the dam wall and after a roar or two, the male followed.
(Injured Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Thursday the 29th of September
More lovely lions kicked off the morning with a high action giraffe chase. Amber Eyes, who was looking a little thin around the waist, stayed hot on the heels of the female giraffe as she tried to herd Africa’s tallest land mammal on to unsteady ground. The giraffe however maintained superb balance and soon galloped away into the distance. Amber Eyes then returned to the rest of the pride and the walked a short distance before going very flat indeed. The cubs however had other things on their mind, mainly suckling from the adults. Yet after a failed hunt and a few days without food, the lionesses usual patient demeanour turned very quickly into irate frustration. After a few growls and swats the cubs eventually got the message and soon all was calm and sleepy. Later that afternoon Jamie caught up with the lazy lions once again. Not much happened as the lions, clearly exhausted, spent the afternoon with their eyes closed tight against the white overcast light.
(Amber-Eyes Nkuhuma getting impatient with playful cubs, Screenshot Credit: Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Jamie eventually decided to move on from the sighting as rumour had it Tingana and Shadow were spotted together on Arathusa. Jamie raced over and sure enough Tingana and Shadow were indeed together once again. But this time there was an uninvited guest, another spotted predator in the form of a large spotted hyaena. Tingana was perched high and safe in the boughs of a massive Marula tree with his fresh impala carcass. Both Shadow and the hyaena waiting from him patiently at it’s base. Popularity for the sighting eventually forced Jamie to move on just as the sun had set.
(Tingana feeding happily, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Arathusa)
Friday the 30th of September
The morning kicked off once again with the stunning Nkuhuma pride. All five lionesses and the eight cubs were resting peacefully on the side of the road. It seemed they had finally managed to give the Birmingham males the slip and soon after Tayla found them they were up and moving. The lead us through some rather tricky bush before eventually coming to a halt in a shady thicket. The cubs explored for a while before joining their mothers and aunts for a morning nap. Later in the morning Brent returned to check up on the happy family, as luck would have it a herd of zebra passed near by and the lionesses were off. Yet their murderous attempt was unsuccessful and thundering hooves complemented by panicked alarm calls brought the sunrise safari to a close.
(Nkuhuma cub, Screenshot Credit: Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen, safariLIVE, Djuma)