Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Karula the expert huntress and mother!

Karula 7 June
Hi everyone!

What a fantastic few drives WE have shared with our lady and her family! 

(Just to serve as a warning, I have included a picture of Karula with her kill later in the Blog)

It all started 3 mornings ago on the 5th June when I went out to check the Ganda as usual. It was still dusky at 6.00AM with a slight nip in the air; this helped to wake me up a bit but I was still half asleep. I went about popping the bonnet and checking the vitals of our game viewing vehicle. On hearing a small rustle, I took a step back and looked to my left. It took a short moment for my brain to register what my eyes were seeing; the outline of a leopard, stalking close to the ground, a few meters from me! As it Noticed me noticing it, I think both of us were maybe not expecting the other to be there and both of us exclaimed in our own way! Luckily the leopard dart off in the opposite direction to where I was! 

I couldn't tell who it was in the dim light. Literally seconds later the rest of the crew drove up the drive way, as the adrenaline was well and truly pumping! Believe me I was wide awake after that what a fantastic wake up call!


As the light filtered through the dusk I could see the tracks and found they belonged to our lady, Karula! I have been convinced she has been around the lodge and drainage line for the last few days. She had made a kill close to Inga's house a few days earlier, but didn't cache her kill in time before the hyena clan stole it. It wasn't long before the 3 Majingilanes who were snoozing by Gowrie Dam caught wind of it and chased them away claiming the prize for themselves!

WE were biding our time, hoping with the increasing temperatures, Karula might turn up somewhere and she did! Tracks were found on Zoe's road, heading west with only one set of cub tracks. As we stopped for some honey badger spoor, another guide announced Karula had turned up at Impala plains and interrupted their drinks break by hunting the impala on the opposite side of the open area! What a lady!

Karula 5 June 
Immediately WE jumped aboard the Ganda and as we arrived she was already dragging her bounty to a favourite weeping wattle out of sight from vultures. As soon as she was satisfied it was well hidden, she promptly left to fetch the cubs, this turned out to be on Zoe's road! The mystery as to why only one set of cub's tracks was there was solved! Karula must have left them there and one cub followed before realising it must stay put!

Once they we reunited it was time to head back to the carcass, where we waited for them to arrive. I was starting to wonder if she had decided to take a short rest as she took her time getting there, but suddenly they appeared as if they just wanted to build up the anticipation! The excitement of the food was hard to mask in the cubs as they tried their best to start eating, but the tough hide made it difficult, they had to wait for Karula to "open the restaurant!"

Little female 6 June
WE headed back to see the progress the following day, sure enough they had round bellies, but the carcass was still on the ground and no sign of hyena! They took it in turns to add to their already expanded girths in between their play! Even Karula became a cub again! It was pure magic to be allowed to share this time with them!

Karula and male cub 7 June
My concern was rising this morning as we turned onto impala plains road to once again catch up with the family, seeing tracks from hyena. As we returned to the weeping wattle, Sebastien noticed the remains of the impala in the tree. I was relieved! Karula and the female also came out of hiding to greet us before the approach of floppy ear caused them to make their ascent to safety once again. I was surprised the young female took her time about it. She allowed the clan matriarch to get a few meters from her, before climbing her chosen spot. The old lady didn't even bat an eye lid as she scaled the trunk, her focus was on the impala and seemed to quickly accept for now it was out of reach, but the possibility of food was noted as she strolled off into the bush. 

Female cub 7 June
A few minutes passed and eventually the male cub made an appearance, taking his time to climb his mother's choice of tree. WE left them to their dreams and planned to check in on them later.   

I am glad we did as WE managed to catch up with the Gowrie Gang even if it was briefly! Little Genesis and Evelyn seem to be doing well, but I am a bit worried we haven't seen Hewey for a few days, I am told by Graham he was around after the storm. I hope he is just lagging behind the troop a bit behind and we are just not seeing him. WE will keep a look out for him on drive.

Male cub 7 June
Sadly the call of lion I heard last night didn't mount to anything, no tracks were left on Gowrie Main either, so WE made our way back to impala plains. On the way we bumped into Andrew, another guide, who said a quick hello to everyone and filled us in that Karula headed north through Sandy Patch, but the cubs were still around! I wonder if she is already scouting out a new area for her next meal! 

Sure enough the cubs were there! Back on the ground they were inquisitive of their surroundings, but soon they tired and found a comfortable patch of grass to snooze in! 

Male cub saying "Goodbye"
Thanks once again for the pictures, and love the quote from one of the pictures on facebook, sorry I can't find to give credit, but found it very apt! 
  
Written by Tara

1 comment:

  1. A leopard in the parking lot!! I think Marc has encountered one out there too just before a morning drive. I wonder if Karula climbs on the jigga or ganda at night, inspecting and exploring them to find out about the curious humans who usually inhabit the vehicles?

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