Monday, February 28, 2011

Karula and cubs 28 Feb 2011

With the sunrise not yet colouring the sky, the morning safari headed West to look for the lion that had killed a buffalo near the gate. A cloudless sky began turning blue with pink tinges in the East when I arrived at the scene where the cats had pulled down the old dagga boy, right next to the road; the smell of the kill hung in the still air. There was a large patch of flattened grass where it must have all happened, with entrails and stomach contents giving hint to the drama. The carcass had been pulled deeper into the bush and all I could see was the top of one of the curved horns and no cats in sight.

I was somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t see them but was buoyed by the fact that there were elephant tracks everywhere and there was a good chance that we would be able to find some of our favourite friends. I drove along the main road known as Triple M to eventually link up with Zoe’s rd and used the power lines as a shortcut via Impala Plains. A herd of impala grazed in the tall grasses on the northern side of the open area and I remember mentioning that they all looked rather relaxed with no immediate danger from predators evident by their behaviour.

How wrong I was! As I left the open area, we rounded a bend where the road bent around a Marula tree and couldn't believe my eyes, Karula and her cubs were walking towards us and I hastily pulled the vehicle off the road to let her by. In true Karula style, she glanced up at me and then Seb and with barely a hesitation, strolled on within a couple of feet of the Land Rover. I have to say that there was a moment there that I felt rather vulnerable, being within striking distance of her without the door on the vehicle.

Photo by Sebastien Rombi

As she walked past the rear bumper, she looked back to check if the little ones were following, as well as to reassure them to continue along. The first cub hesitated a few times, crouched low and trotted past and I tried hard to burn that image into my mind, to hold on to that moment of sheer wonder at such an incredible encounter. The second cub wasn’t as brave, choosing instead to run through the grasses at a respectable distance.

The trio made their way onto the open area of Impala Plains and Karula soon saw the movement of the small herd of antelope. She went into crouch mode and one of the cubs followed her, mimicking her stalking and when she stopped in mid-stride, head outstretched, her tail tip twitching at the end of her rigid tail, the cub mirrored her posture for a moment, hinting at things to come.

The Impala spotted her and immediately began snorting in alarm. This in turn seemed to trouble the cubs a bit, as they slinked off into the grasses in the opposite direction. They hadn’t gone far when they turned to see their mother walking away nonchalantly and soon joined her making their way onto the main road of Triple M. Soon one of the cubs seemed to have forgotten the excitement and began climbing every little tree along the road but very quickly became bored as its sibling didn’t seem too interested in the game.

WE followed them along the main road, revelling in the joy of watching a mother leopard tripping over her cubs when they got under her feet as only cats can do. She scent marked and they smelled it, vital lessons being learned for their future. They played a bit, especially when they walked by an eroded area that has been brush packed but soon gave up the game as Mom moved on and there was a little distance between them.

I was expecting her to move off the road at any moment as the sun was rising higher and so was the temperature of the day. I started getting a little concerned as she continued in a westerly direction with a pride of lion not too far ahead. There was still a way to go but I couldn’t help thinking how vulnerable she was, walking along the road as though she owned it and at that moment, for all intents and purposes, she did. I needn’t have worried though; Karula has successfully raised two litters of cubs within the boundaries of the territories of lion, other leopard, hyena, occasional wild dog and, at times, herds of elephant. All of these potentially harmful to her and her cubs. The road dipped and crossed a drainage line that was lined with big trees and, more importantly, dense tall grasses as well as low rounded crowns of guarrie and spikethorn. Without missing a step, she slid into the thick vegetation and I blinked, wondering if the whole thing had been a figment of my imagination as not a blade of grass moved nor was there a sound of a rustle of leaves or an alarm call of a bird. They simply dissolved into the treeline, leaving Seb and I stunned in awe and brimming with excitement.

The morning was not quite over yet and I wondered what we could find that would be able to lift our spirits even more. We returned to the lion kill, passing a herd of elephant across our boundary to the West and approached the kill site at the same time a a pair of hyena did too. They seemed very hesitant, clearly aware that their larger foes might still be nearby and knowing that lion will unflinchingly defend their kill. One hyena ran in and snatched something, escaping to the other side of the road with its trophy. The other hyena trotted off after it and we watched as they seemed to come to a realisation that they weren’t being followed, turning around and coming back for more. As the hyena emerged, WE noticed that it had the tail of the buffalo in its mouth and the two of them hesitantly approached the flattened grasses where the kill had taken place where one of the hyenas grabbed the entrails and dragged it across the road. They soon noticed that the lion had moved off and found the carcass, hastily tearing pieces off before they were chased from the prize.

While all this was happening, I had heard of a sighting on the opposite end of the property and we started making our way through Djuma to the East, hoping that the excitement would linger longer. It did! Crossing the Mulwati dry river bed, a huge elephant bull browsed peacefully only feet from the road and in my haste to reach the eastern boundary, I greeted him and moved on, heading up Bateleur road toward Drakensberg Drive. That is where excitement peaked again as a couple of African Hunting dogs lay in the road at the junction. They soon stood up and entred the long grasses where we found a few more members of the pack. The day was well under way and the dogs seemed to be restless, soon moving off to the South, first along Drakensberg and then later, along Cheetah Cutline where we eventually had to bid them farewell as they crossed the boundary to the South.

In the words of Van Morrison: “There’ll be days like this!”

*~ Marc ~*

Friday, February 25, 2011

Marching Time

Greetings all,

Daily, at sunset, we see the sun crawling North along the ridge of the escarpment. This is the spine of the dragon's back, the Drakensberg Mountains in the West. This inexorable path is not only marked by the changing greens of grasses, far fewer flowers and fiery sunsets but the later sunrises and earlier sunsets. Night is stealing our daytime.

From the first of March and through the equinox later this month, the WildearthSafari AM drive will be leaving a little later to accommodate the later sunrise. The morning safari will leave at 06h00, Central African Time. As yet, there are no changes to the PM Safari times and WE will still be heading out at 15h30 CAT.

Posted by Marc

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Changes in e-mail accounts

Hi everyone,

As a result of some changes in our internet set-up the current e-mail addresses will stop working on the 23rd of February. This means everybody will get new e-mail addresses on a different domain:

In order to make this transition as easy as possible we changed only the domain name in most cases, so e.g. my e-mail address would go from to

Indeed .... in most cases, not all, because as always there is an exception to the rule.

The exception is the finalcontrol e-mail. Currently a lot of messages are sent there that the director is not in a position to handle and therefore needs to forward to others. In order to get your e-mails to the right person faster we will stop using 'finalcontrol' and would like to ask you to use the following addresses instead: for any questions for the presenter or director or that are otherwise directly relating to what is being broadcast for any technical queries (streaming issues, picture quality, sound levels, etc) for any complaints you might have for ideas that might help us improve

To give everyone time to get used to this change will remain active for a while, but it will be closed sometime in the near future, so please use the new addresses as much as possible.

If you have any e-mail addresses stored in your address book or elsewhere, please change them accordingly, so we can be sure to keep hearing from you.

Thank you!

-- Peter

Bayizana batteries

Yesterday, our broadcast vehicle (the faithful "Ganda") was called back to camp before the end of drive, due to low batteries. With the Ganda back in the workshop we re-arranged the chargers, to get the most out of them, and get the Ganda back to full power as soon as possible.

*When deep cycle batteries are fully charged they only need a small amount of daily charging to keep them healthy.

This morning at 05h00 the batteries were still not fully charged :( If we sent out the vehicle with low batteries this problem would keep on happening and we would damage the batteries to such a degree that they would not hold any charge, after some time. By giving the batteries this extra rest (charge) we can hopefully get back to broadcasting full 3 hour game drives.

Please join us on our PM Safari at 15h30 Central African Time with a healthy Ganda and hopefully some great game!

Written by Herman Gerber

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video of Karula's cub sitting in a tree!

Hi everyone!

Here is the video clip of the cubs from the 17 Feb on MMM. Karula must have been in the middle of moving them when they possibly came across a hyena. One cub was up a tree, the other with Karula on the ground.

WE joined the sighting after the hyena left, but couldn't go live at this stage due to rain. WE had hoped the rain would stop, but it only got heavier forcing us to return to camp. Myself and Seb decided to go out after drive to see if we could at least get some footage with the small camera and photographs of the cubs to share with you.

We took it in turns to film and take pictures, enjoying every moment even as the rain poured down on us! We could only see the one, but it was wonderful to be able to sit with it and see the spot pattern even if we couldn't see what sex it was! If you haven't yet seen the pictures they are on the previous Blogs, here are the links:

As the rain cleared Patrick went out with the Ganda to try and go Live on Wildearth Safari with Karula and the cubs, but she had other plans! She must have decided it was safe enough to continue moving on so Patrick caught up with her just as she was disappearing into the bush.

To view a clearer version here is the link to the video on facebook:

WE hope you enjoy these few clips of Karula and one of the cubs. She has been seen just over the boundary in Buffleshoek today, so it looks like she is slowly making her way back to Western Gowrie, now the lions have vacated the area once more. With luck if she feels it is safe enough, WE should start to see the cubs Live on drive soon!

Written by Tara

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My encounter with Karula and the cubs

2010.02.17 AM Drive

After a magical encounter with an elephant, Patrick and I carried on with our drive but unfortunately it started raining and we had to shut down the equipment and get back to base. On the way back, we hear on the radio that Karula (our resident female leopard) has been spotted with her two cubs on Triple M. Pat and I looked at each other with a big smile…it was still drizzling but the equipment was protected so we decided to give it a go and see if it was raining that side of our property.

We found her more or less 400 metres away from Gowrie Gate on Triple M. She was not a happy cat…wet and very aggressive! One of the rangers on site told us that she almost jumped in his vehicle a few minutes ago so we had to be careful. Especially with that blue cover all over the equipment! We stayed quite far from her but we could hear her growling. It was drizznling too much to switch the 3D rig back on so I just grabbed my still camera and decided to snap a few shots. She was lying in the long grass when all of a sudden in my viewfinder I realise that one of her cubs is actually with her, trying to climb on her back. Clik Clik Clik…in the box!

At that stage Patrick is busy talking in shangaan with Andrew , one of the rangers from Cheetah Plains. Andrew is explaining to him that a little bit earlier, a hyena was there and Karula had no choice but to climb up a tree with her cubs. She is now on the ground with one of them but we didn’t know where the second one was. I snapped a few more shots and then we decided to get back to base as the rain was getting heavier and heavier. As Patrick turned the vehicle around I spotted the second cub up a false marula tree. He did not look happy either! Shame…Once again I pulled my SLR camera out of the bag and quickly snapped a few shots of him…in the box little one!

Back to base, I explained the all thing to Tara and of course her first reaction was…”I want to go there with the behind the scene camera, get some shots, spend some time with them and see what happens”. Of course my reaction back at her was…A big smile on my face and a “I am coming with you!” So there we are Tara and I, in Jigga this time, getting incredibly wet on Tripple M waiting for our turn to get back into the sighting (never more than 3 vehicles per sighting). Pretty funny I thought…the things we do when we have a passion!

When we finally got back into the sighting we found Karula much more relaxed, still on the ground with one cub up a tree (a different tree this time) looking very unhappy! We could not find the second cub but Tara thought it was also up a tree somewhere around us. We just couldn’t put our eyes on it. We spent some time with them, snapped a few shots and recorded some footage for all of you.

It stopped raining so we decided to get back to base and come back with Ganda and the 3D rig to get back to LIVE for you. And so we did. And so was I, back at the back of Ganda, ready to share with you some great footage of Karula and her cubs. As we got there, Pat and I found her on a branch up a Marula tree but unfortunately she did not stay there and she decided to climb down. She then quickly disappeared in the long grass. The 3D rig batteries being flat by that time I had to shut the camera down and switch to the little camera.

After a good 10 minutes of search we decided to get back to base to put the equipment in charge. So I radio Tara to let her know that we were on our way back and as I put the radio down I spotted Karula walking through the grass 30 metres away on our left hand side. We followed her and we managed to get some footage of her and the cubs jumping in the grass behind her. It lasted only a few minutes unfortunately before we lost her again. We tried to re-locate her for another 10 minutes, driving through some gigantic spider webs with the biggest Golden-Orb Spiders I have ever seen in my entire life!

We called it a day with Patrick and we came back to the camp to put the equipment in charge.
What a morning! I thought you would all appreciate to read what happened. Below are some of my pictures as well to illustrate my story.
I hope you all enjoyed it and I shall thank you for giving us the best job in the world!


My encounter with an elephant

2011.02.17 AM

Dear All,

I thought I should share with you my experiences from this morning.

04:45 AM : Wake up call!

04:55 AM Coffee Time!

05:00 AM : Getting Ganda and the 3D rig up to speed and ready for action!

05:30 AM: WE go LIVE!

Nice start of the day, watching the sunrise over the horizon and over Kruger National Park. Patrick and I took a few seconds to enjoy this magnificent view. Both of us had no idea of what was waiting for us ahead.

A few minutes later we bumped into a gentle giant! Mister Jumbo, like Patrick usually calls him, was feeding on a marula tree a few metres away from Ganda. It is funny to see how greedy these big creatures can be and how gentle they can be with their trunk and their feet. So I tried to pass on this feeling through the lens and I managed to get a few very nice close ups, especially on his eye. I must admit, there is something about an elephant eye that I really like….so small compared to the animal size, ‘peaceful’ and ‘graceful’ would be the right words to describe it for me. So I apologise if I tend to do a lot of close ups on elephant eyes but there is just something about them that I love sharing with all of you.

We must have spent a good half an hour with him before he decided to leave us. And when he did, he did with beauty….He was standing on our right hand side, more or less 5 metres away from Ganda. I was busy focusing on his feet and getting every details of his nails when I suddenly realised that he was now moving towards us. I quickly zoomed out to realise that he was now two metres away from us, going towards the back of the car. I took a few seconds to take my eyes away from my monitor and actually look at what was happening in front of me….WOW…Two metres is pretty close to you when it is 3 metres high and weighs a few tons! All I could see was his eye looking straight at me…I have never seen an elephant eye so close to me before. He walked pass us behind Ganda which means that I was seating less than two metres away from him for a few seconds. We both looked at each other for maybe two or three seconds…one of the most intense eye contact I ever had! Have you had the feeling that someone or something is reading through you? Well, I did get that feeling this morning…it seemed like he could see my soul!! I believe it is not a too dark one because he remained very peaceful…I remember Patrick saying “I am going to keep quite now cause he is walking pass right behind us”…That did not make me feel very safe by the way :)

I remember thinking “and what if now he decides to swing his trunk at me?”….My heart skipped a bit for a second or two and I bet he heard it and went “Ah ah ah…little one…not feeling that brave anymore hey?”

What an experience!! I really loved it. It lasted all in all maybe 10 seconds but WOW…10 intense seconds which actually felt like 10 minutes! Like Patrick said, at one stage his bum must have been a few inches away from the spare wheel!!

Thank you for this Mister Jumbo. I will remember our encounter and our eye contact for the rest of my life. Thank you for being so gentle and so understanding. And thank you for not finding my soul too dark ;)


Karula's cubs have been seen!

Karula's cub, 17 Feb 2011
Hi everyone,

The cubs have been seen and they look very well, if not a bit wet!

WE caught up with Karula hunting yesterday at the Sandy Patch area on Vuyatela access road. With the wind blowing in the wrong direction and thick bush it is difficult to say if she caught something. WE left the area we last saw her, with hope she might bring the cubs back from the West soon!

Karula's cub 17 Feb 2011

We were in luck! This morning as Patrick was heading back to camp due to rain, he was told Karula was on MMM with the cubs. Sadly the rain persisted, so we were unable to view the family live on drive, so myself and Seb went out in the rain to take pictures and get some footage with the small camera to share with you. One cub was sat in a small tree, which is the one in the pictures with Karula resting at the bottom. She was very relaxed with us being there and even curled up to sleep! The other cub was hidden from view, possibly in another tree. I didn't get pictures of this one as yet!

The cubs will be around 3 months old now and they are already climbing thin trees, I would love to know if they are strong enough to climb Marula trees yet! Lets hope the skills improve rapidly, as this will help them survive. WE were told there was a hyena around the base of the tree the other cub was in before Patrick arrived the first time. Maybe this is why she was waiting on a busy road with the cubs. Not wanting to risk moving them again until the hyena was well out of the way!

Karula's cub not enjoying the rain 17 Feb 2011

The rain was stopping and the sun was trying to break through the clouds, so Patrick headed out once more after drive to try bring Karula and the cubs live. By the time he got there, she was already on the move! Possibly deciding it was safe enough to continue moving the cubs. WE caught a glimpse as she disappeared into the bush, heading East back on to Western Gowrie!

Look out for Sebastien's Blog about this morning's drive and the video clip of the cubs!

Written by Tara

Karula's cubs have been seen!

Karula's cub, 17 Feb 2011
Hi everyone,

The cubs have been seen and they look very well, if not a bit wet!

WE caught up with Karula hunting yesterday at the Sandy Patch area on Vuyatela access road. With the wind blowing in the wrong direction and thick bush it is difficult to say if she caught something. WE left the area we last saw her, with hope she might bring the cubs back from the West soon!

Karula's cub 17 Feb 2011

We were in luck! This morning as Patrick was heading back to camp due to rain, he was told Karula was on MMM with the cubs. Sadly the rain persisted, so we were unable to view the family live on drive, so myself and Seb went out in the rain to take pictures and get some footage with the small camera to share with you. One cub was sat in a small tree with Karula resting at the bottom. She was very relaxed with us being there and even curled up to sleep! The other cub was hidden from view, possibly in another tree.

The cubs will be around 3 months old now and they are already climbing thin trees, I would love to know if they are strong enough to climb Marula trees yet! Lets hope the skills improve rapidly, as this will help them survive. WE were told there was a hyena around the base of the tree the other cub was in before Patrick arrived the first time. Maybe this is why she was waiting on a busy road with the cubs. Not wanting to risk moving them again until the hyena was well out of the way!

Karula's cub not enjoying the rain 17 Feb 2011

The rain was stopping and the sun was trying to break through the clouds, so Patrick headed out once more after drive to try bring Karula and the cubs live. By the time he got there, she was already on the move! Possibly deciding it was safe enough to continue moving the cubs. WE caught a glimpse as she disappeared into the bush, heading East back on to Western Gowrie!

Look out for Sebastien's Blog about this morning's drive and the video clip of the cubs!

Written by Tara

Monday, February 14, 2011

Karula, keeping us guessing!

Short maned Gijima male 14/2/2011
Hi everyone!

Karula is keeping us guessing to where she will pop up next!

I was informed by Texan, a guide at Vuyatela, her tracks were seen in the North around sandy patch area this morning. She could still have the cubs in the West, in Simbambili or in the North on Buffleshoek.

She does need to be very careful as the 3 Nkuhuma lionesses were with the 2 Gijima males on the quarantine open area this morning. The other female with the cubs was missing this morning, she could possibly have made a kill with the cubs elsewhere.

Nkuhuma Lioness 14/2/2011

It looks like Karula may still have been hunting around Impala plains, as tracks were found in the area heading North towards Sandy Patch. With the lions and all the hyena activity in Western Gowrie she is probably hiding the cubs in thicker bush to protect them at the moment.

I am sure WE will have chance to see the cubs again soon, but at this stage, she is being very careful not to risk predators seeking her out. Especially with cubs as small as they are, they are not likely to be able to climb too well at the moment. This eventually will be their saving grace and she will probably be more willing to bring them further into the center of her territory when they can.
Long maned Gijima male 14/2/2011

For now though WE have to be patient and enjoy this time to view the lions WE don't often get chance to see! Even Induna and Mixo have been out and about the last few days and looking even more impressive as young male leopards.

Written by Tara

Donations for Dixie

Hi everyone!

A few people have asked if they can send donations instead of buying a calender. If you would like to do this here are the bank details. If money is donated after I purchase the sports equipment, which will hopefully be soon, I will leave it to build up for next year.

Please make Children of Dixie as the reference.

Account holder: Kaya-Now-Now

Account number: 62087087683

Bank: FNB Stellenbosch

Branch code: 200610

Bank address:





Thank you,


Friday, February 11, 2011

Karula's family - The lady herself, Part 3: A caring mother

Hi everyone!

WE have seen what a beautiful and intelligent leopard Karula is, but there is another side to her. She is a mother and an excellent one at that! Cub mortality can be high, especially at a young age and yet she has successfully reared 2 litters into to adulthood and it looks like she is doing a great job at keeping the 2 month old cubs hidden from the lions so far!

The first litter being her two daughters, Saseka and Tingana (aka Thandi and Shadow). Born late 2006. Karula would have been only 2 and half years old when she conceived and this could be the reason for her small size. The girls have had their first litter this year, making them the fourth generation of Karula's family!

Karula, Mixo and Induna

The second litter, Mixo and Induna. were born November 2008. These two mischievous boys are still around in their mothers territory and I think it is safe to say WE are all happy they are! They are just over 2 years old and it is difficult to say what is going to happen. With them being young males, Karula may chase them out or they may just decide to wonder further a field on their own. We saw Induna was still around and was even tolerated by probably his own father, Yambilu-Jordaan during the mating between him and Karula in August last year.

Here is a great slide show of Karula and the boys in their first year sent in by Patricia German

Even at this early stage WE have already seen how well Karula is taking care of the cubs, keeping them well hidden from potential danger, moving them when it is warm to possibly avoid predators, hunting during the day, so she can probably be with them more at night.

Karula and Induna

If she can continue to keep them safe, WE are in for some wonderful sightings of the cubs and Karula while they grow and learn how to become leopards, just like we have seen with past litters and still are with the boys. I have full faith in Karula, she is a wise and intelligent lady with a lot of experience on her side. She is a skillful and tender mother with a lot of tolerance and patience. I hope you can join us to see how this new story unfolds as she starts to teach the cubs those valuable life skills they will need to survive.

Thanks to everyone sending in pictures and I hope to use a few more soon!

Written by Tara

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Induna and the vervet monkey.

Hi everyone,

What a roller-coaster of emotions I think, for all of us yesterday.

Having heard monkeys calling in the drainage line opposite Gowrie cutline during AM safari, I was sure there was a predator around, so I quickly responded. As we approached the area, I could see them in a tree looking directly below. I followed their gaze to a bush and to our excitement, there was a leopard sitting, looking at us. It was Induna. He quickly disappeared, so we pulled into the dry riverbed in the hope of finding him again. The monkeys were still calling so we knew he couldn't be far.

Approaching the bush, I could hear squeaking and it dawned on me, he was in the middle of catching something. He eventually came out of the bush with his prize, and it became clear why the Vervet monkeys were still calling, he had caught a baby monkey. As humans, this immediately changed our perspective on the situation. Even though they are distantly related to humans, they are still a primate and there is an affinity we share with them. To our surprise he hadn't killed it. In fact from what I could see there was not even a scratch on it.

Induna started to play with the monkey, as a domestic cat plays with a mouse. This helps cats especially young cats, which is what Induna is, to practice and perfect skills, as well as build muscles. It was not easy to watch, and was heart wrenching at times. But one thing we have to remember is Induna is a leopard and does not think like a human. To him it was food. To us, a living baby monkey. If you think of cats at play, they are interested in anything that moves and squeaks. To him, this was something of interest that he could eat.

I was amazed the monkey didn't look injured or scratched and there were times I thought it had managed to get away. I was also hoping if it stayed quiet and hidden, maybe Induna would tire of it and walk away, or if not at least end it swiftly. The monkey would have been in shock by this stage, with adrenaline in it's body and being young, I doubt it really comprehended what was happening. It just had an instinct to try and get back to it's mother for safety. For humans, closure is very important and I felt we needed that closure after such an intense sighting. It came with Induna taking the monkey, it's body going limp from a quick bite and walking away to feed.

One thought crossed my mind, was he trying to entice an adult out of the tree? I have never heard of it before and that is why even though difficult to watch, it was interesting, as I have never seen or heard of this before with monkeys. I was in awe of what we had witnessed and with mixed emotions. From extreme sadness for the loss of a young life, amazement how, in a strange way, gentle Induna was being with it, to excitement to have been able to share this with you all. It is a behaviour that does go on in the wild and even in our homes, but it is a behaviour that is not witnessed very often in the wild.

Leopards have to eat and I think part of the difficulty watching this sighting was because it involved a monkey and it was a baby, something we are not use to seeing leopards eat. Had a rodent or an antelope been involved instead, prey we are use to leopards catching, we may have been less shocked by Indunas behaviour.

As Karula's cubs grow, we may witness this behaviour again and it is part of nature, cubs need to learn to become efficient predators. WE do not enjoy seeing an animal loose it's life and sights like this can be disturbing and difficult to watch but it is still nature. To be able to share this and to help people understand why it happens is very important and for that I am glad WE could share this with you.

Written by Tara

Monday, February 7, 2011

The lions are back in town!

Nkuhuma lioness 6/2/2011
Hi everyone!

The Diva of Djuma has really got her work cut out at the moment! It seems like the lions keep popping up where she has been denning! First Tamboti dam, now Impala Plains!

WE had a fantastic day with the Nkuhuma females, cubs and the Gijima males yesterday. They were found on MMM opposite Impala plains during morning drive, after finding tracks all over the quarantine open area. Being bothered by flies, the family took refuge in the bush, under the low lying branches and amongst the tall grasses. It got to the stage we had to imagine the lions were there as they were so well concealed!

They had barely moved when we caught up with them on afternoon drive. The cubs made a feeble effort to play, but even they decided it was far too hot to continue and settled down to snooze again! After checking tree house dam for signs of Karula, WE headed back as the sun started to set and arrived in the nick of time to watch them wake from their full day of slumber. There was even time for some serious play before getting down to the business of looking for food! Here we left them to make space for other vehicles but we didn't have to wait too long before we were able to rejoin the excitement!

One of the male Nkuhuma cubs around 6 months old 6/2/2011

With light fading fast, we sat poised, ready for action, as the females slipped away with a possible target in their sights. Hearing the sound of hooves crashing through the bush, the Ganda sprang to life, but as we caught up to the pride it was clear they had not been successful this time! I was amazed to find they had collected at the same spot we lost Karula just 2 days previously!

It was still magic just to sit with these icons of Africa in their element...darkness. The chorus of the bush set the mood. Sitting under a blanket of stars, the silhouette of the lions was almost haunting. True ghosts in the darkness!

I am sure Karula is a few steps a head of them and has the cubs in a safe location. I met one of Vuyatela's guides on the road that day and he told me he had seen her tracks heading South, towards Gowrie Main. I think she is going to lay low for a while again to avoid any possible detection by her feline cousins!

Written by Tara

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sad News about the Gowrie Gang.

Hi everyone,

Graham has confirmed the female baboon who lost her baby was LB. This is her second loss and it is unclear how or when it died, it could have been a week to 10days ago. WE caught up with the troop again yesterday morning and they seemed a little more at ease than they did even a couple of days ago. She has even let go of the body, although she still calls out for time to time, maybe in the hope of hearing a reply.

It is difficult say how the troop are taking the loss, but the first day we caught up with them, after hearing the news, I felt there was a difference in their behaviour. The troop seemed to stay closer together and it was almost like they were on edge. Two days later they were a lot more settled but still not 100% right.

LB is the lowest ranking female, but even through this traumatic time, it looks as though some of the other troop members might have tried to comfort her. We watched her being groomed, as she held the tiny body close a few days ago and even the younger baboons came over to see her.

There could be any number of explanations as to why it died. Even though it is part of life, it is still a very difficult side of nature to witness. Being able to view the troop even during this sad time, I think can help us to understand even more about them. It seems each time the troop have a knock like this, it pulls them closer together as a family.

Thankfully Mrs Psycho's little one seems to be doing well and hopefully will continue to bring a smile to our faces as it learns more of the world around it and the confident grows. Maybe LB will fall pregnant again and have better luck with her next offspring in the future. Baboons can cycle as soon as 5 months after birth, but it is normally more like 10-11 months.

If you would like to see pictures and learn more about the Gowrie Gang, here is the link to the facebook page

Written by Tara

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Induna catching breakfast and a glimpse of Karula!

Induna 1 April 2010
Hi everyone!
It looks like we have been looking in the right area for Karula. She was found on Impala Plains yesterday and we managed to catch up with the Diva of Djuma before she disappeared before our eyes into the thick grass!

She was eying up a knobthorn tree and putting her nose to the ground, just before we lost sight of her. We have seen her do this previously and went to retrieve a kill made earlier in the day, almost using her nose to track her own smell back to the carcass. I was convinced this is what she was doing and she was possibly thinking of storing a kill in the knobthorn. I even went back a little later to see if my theory was correct, but sadly no sign! Maybe she decided on another tree or she was still making her way back or there was no kill and my theory was wrong!

Interesting she is still hunting in that area, the impala seem to have moved on, but the tall grass could be concealing other prey like duiker, which we have also seen her feasting on before.

Grey Duiker

I don't think the cubs were too far away, maybe just a bit further South from the plains. She used MMM the other day to move them, possibly as it is nice and open so she could see any danger early, rather than taking the cubs through the thick bush where danger could be hidden and not seen until the last minute. I wonder when the next view of the cubs will be!

WE also followed the excitement of Induna catching breakfast yesterday morning. He was on the Western side of quarantine harassing the wildebeest, possibly having his eye on the youngest calf, but the adults were not giving him any leeway. Continuing to scent mark along the road his attention was caught by a family of guinea fowl in the tall grass. He edged closer and closer until one alerted his presence and it was all pandemonium, birds taking to the skies, blurred spots running this way and that, but he had a sharp eye! As one chick flew out of reach he spied where another had landed in a small acacia. He raced over and plucked it out out of the shrub, looking very pleased with himself! It is great to see his skills have improved and he is well on his way to becoming an accomplished hunter just like his mother!
Look out for the diary coming soon!

Written by Tara

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keeping up

I know that many of you know how we get our broadcast to you, but for those who don't I thought I would give you an insight as to the route the signal takes to reach you computer.
The vehicle transmits from an Ariel mounted behind the camera persons head as it drives around the bush. I figure you will have seen this from the various shots of the Ganda.
And so the journey to you begins.
Step one is a radio link to the Vuyatela mast located near the main lodge .
Step two is via fibre optic cable to the FCC, where the raw signal is processed.
Step three, the processed signal is sent via fibre optic again back to the mast and beamed via microwave to a mountain 100 kms away.
Step four that signal is bounced down to an office in Hoedspruit (a small town around 35 kms from the mountain).
Step Five, here the signal reaches our POP and fibre optic cable which is routed first to Middleberg, then Johannesburg and then to Dublin in Ireland.

By this point you have probably dropped off to sleep with boredom, but the signal is only half way to you.

In Dublin, the broadcast is again processed and distributed via the Internet to you.
I hope you can see that this isn't an easy route and is made more complicated by the amount of data we now have to send for 3D HD.
So why didn't we stay with a low res 2d system. After all it had worked for years?
Fair question. The answer is that we need to keep up with the latest advances in LIVE Internet broadcasting, without which we'd fall so far behind that it would be a very hard road to catch up. Plus, the history of this company (of which many of you have been part for many years), is that we break new ground.
So here we are, a small passionate team with dedicated supporters around the world, creating something that others thought was not possible; but we are all proving them wrong.
The systems we've pioneered over the last six months have pushed the boundaries and we will continue to do so. Sure we still have some bugs to work out but we've proved it can be done.
And if this all sounds like my bragging, well I have a confession to make. I can't claim any credit. The ground breaking systems have been designed and developed by the WildEarth team of Graham, Peter and Alex. Like many others, I'm just keeping up.
Written by Will Fox
CEO Safari Television

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Karula's family - The lady herself, Part 2

Hi everyone!

It looks like the lady did walk down Philamon's cut line last night, moving the cubs further into the center of her territory. She maybe even be using the drainage line West of the quarantine open area where she used to leave the boys before she went hunting. WE shall have to wait and see!

Karula means peaceful and it is not hard to see why she is called this. She makes any tree look comfortable and her demeanor around the vehicles is very relaxed...usually! But she is a lady and from time to time she can have her off days! If you catch her on one of these days and get to close, she will warn you!

18/7/2010 - Just after she had said her piece!

I remember her having a kill just off Gowrie Main in July, we could see the carcass but the visual of Karula was poor. What I could see of her, I felt she wanted a bit of space, so we sat a little distance away and waited for her to move in her own time. Sadly a guest in a vehicle parked a little way from us wasn't as patient and stood to get a better view. At this point Karula charged at the vehicle, stopping a few meters from it. This was her way of saying get out of my space. The guest sat down immediately and she backed off. What amazed me was that she came to sit a bit closer to us and we were able to see her more clearly. This certainly goes to show she is still a wild animal. With her being so relaxed around vehicles it can sometimes be forgotten or even thought she is tame. This is definitely not the case! We view her on her terms!

The easiest way to ID her is the "WOW" on her forehead, between the eyes. Her fur is quite dark compared to the boys, Mixo and Induna.

She also shares the same characteristic with her daughter Saseka, the eyelash marking under her left eye. The way she differs is the two spots and arrow head that points towards her nose on her left cheek and a triangle of 3 spots above her whisker line.

The right side has a "S" shape from the corner of her eye and a very large dark spot above the end of her whisker line.

I hope this helps to ID her. I am sure there are many more differences all over her body, but the face is the part we look at the most so I have picked the patterns that can be easily seen!

Thanks again for all the pictures sent in, I decided to use a couple of pictures I had for ID so you can see them clearly.
Written by Tara