Sunday, April 17, 2011

12 April, what a day to remember!

Karula and the cubs 7 April
Hi everyone,
Sorry for the delay in the Blog, but it seriously was a day to remember and a wonderful 30th birthday present for sure!

Jacques, our tryout presenter, was lucky enough to bump into Karula and the cubs on the evening of the 9th heading North from Gowrie dam. Sadly WE couldn't spend too much time with them, but thankfully we didn't have to wait too long for our lady to appear again!

Young male rolling in dung on the 7th April
I was busy checking the Ganda first thing as Herman and Craig arrived for the set up for AM drive on the 12th. Just as they pulled in, they shouted to me saying they had just seen Karula heading into the bush on the driveway. We rapidly finished getting everything ready and with the sun starting to rise, I noticed her fresh tracks just outside my room on the pathway! I must admit I did wonder if I had missed her passing outside my room by minutes! With excitement in our veins we raced to the spot where she had disappeared! 

The count down to drive had begun and we hadn't been successful in relocating her. Just as we went live, I was saying hello and suddenly Karula popped up! She was walking a few meters from where I was standing on the opposite side of Ganda with a francolin in her mouth! I immediately jumped aboard and shadowed heras she strolled towards the lodge!

The lady of Djuma, Karula, April 12.
As she arrived at the car park, the other game drives were just heading out and they joined us as she cut between the rooms down to the Northern side of the dam to sit and eat her breakfast. WE had no view of her in the thick vegetation, so after a while we left and hoped she would show herself again at some stage!

A short while passed as we sat on the dam wall watching hippo and to my amazement Karula meandered towards the overflow! She stopped just at the crossing, seeming to decided which direction she should take. She diverted her course and walked right towards us on to the wall! Keeping a look out for a larger meal, she  continued to the Western side and took a well used game trail which ran parallel to twin dams road. WE stayed with her as she chose the route. Just as I thought we might loose her into the drainage line, she gave a soft "ugfh". Shivers ran down my spine, I could not believe it, she was calling the cubs! 

She called again as the thick bush swallowed her. We tried an open area ahead of her in the hope of seeing the cubs. WE waited, but there was still no sign. With wall to wall trees, she had picked a great place to hide them! I was so sure she was not too far away, but with the bush being so thick, there was no way in. I must admit I was slightly disappointed but thought we would give the place we lost her before again just in case she turned around. As I pulled back, she materialised in front of us, where only seconds before there was bare ground! She was busy grooming herself as if she had been there all the time! Movement drew my attention to where we had just been minutes before. It was the cubs!

Karula joining in the fun!
It was magic to sit and watch them as they frolicked about, jumping and chasing each other. Karula even joined in when one of the cubs launched itself on her! After a while she decided it was time to move on and melted back into the bush! I was extactic, what a wonderful morning WE had already! I didn't think it could get any better!  

Later on drive a radio call came in about Karula making her way across the quarantine open area with the cubs, sadly this time we couldn't respond as vehicles who didn't have chance to see her earlier took the opportunity this time. 

WE enjoyed spending time with Giraffe at Chela pan while Karula made her way through Phillamon's dip and to my surprise a couple of vehicles left the sighting, which meant we could join! We timed it perfectly as she approached the junction of weaver's nest road and Chela pan road. The cubs were not bothered by our presence at all! The little female followed mum closely, while the male was happy to have a bit of space at the back!

Karula being joined by one of the cubs!
Once again we fell in behind the family and enjoyed their antics! The end of drive was looming and they disappeared towards tree house dam. Just as WE were going to say goodbye, Herman frantically exclaimed "she's in the tree!" Sure enough she was using a Marula tree to scout out a possible meal! The cubs were also utilising the grand tree, but they had other ideas how it should be used! 

Practicing their climbing skills, it looked at a stage one was struggling, but a slight adjustment to the paw and the cub came right! Meanwhile Karula had spotted something of interest and proceeded to the Southern side of the dip on Weavers nest road, leaving the cubs unsure if they should follow or not.

To our astonishment, instead of the cubs going to hide in the bush once the call to follow Karula never came, they sauntered out just a couple of meters in front of the Ganda! The young boy sat in the shade just on the road and his sister joined him, watching Karula until she could no longer see her. Once out of sight, this was the cue to go and seek cover! Leaving us speechless!

WOW! What a family and what a morning! If you missed joining us for that amazing drive here is the link to the diary on you tube!

Written by Tara


  1. Wonderful Blog, wonderful drive, AWESOME family!

    We were all so glad you got such a great birthday weekend gift.

    Thank you, Tara. I love that family!!

  2. Great Blog, Tara. That is one amazing family.

    I was incredibly lucky to have witnessed a part of what you have described in this blog.I also managed to get a few good photos.

    I was on a vehicle driven by Andrew and tracker Ranson, when we came across Karula and the cubs, just before they climbed the marula tree.

    I had waited something like 20 years to see something as special as this. It was really emotional, watching this family, as they went about their day.

    I wish that I could have stayed back in Sabi Sands, so that I could spend more time watching this beautiful family. Unfortunately, I have had to go back home to Dubai.

    Thankfully, Andrew gave me the link to your blog, so now I can keep a track of them.

    Is it possible to view the video that you took?

    Thanks for letting Andrew know the where abouts of Karula and her cubs. Btw, do the cubs have names?


  3. Very cool. I missed it unfortunately, but I did see the recently posted 2d video.
    Thanks for sharing & happy 30th! ;)

  4. I saw the video that was posted on facebook. It was outstanding!!

  5. Thanks Anthony! So glad you got to see her Vijay and share the sighting with us :) It was really special, I hope you got some wonderful pictures too!

  6. I did get a few good pictures. Is there a way for me to upload them to your site?

  7. That would be wonderful! If you are on face book we have safari channel page and Karula has a page too. This is where we post most of the pictures, otherwise if you would like to share them on a blog you could send them to