Sunday, September 4, 2011

Yambilu-Jordaan babysits his cubs!

Karula and male cub 4 Sept 2011
Hi everyone,

What an incredible few days we have had! I can not believe the sightings this week!

First thing this morning, Marc said he heard a leopard calling in the drainage line at the back of camp. I decided to head out early and drive around Galago short cut after confirming with Marc it sounded like the spotted feline was heading in that direction.

Family portrait!  4 Sept 2011
Just as we turned onto Galago Shortcut, Becky shouted, "leopard!"
"Where?" I'm asking her as my excitement was growing. I was looking where she was pointing, but I had no joy, I was too low to see over the grass! "Shall I go forward?" 
"Yeh, it's right there, behind the grass. No there's 2!"
Suddenly Karula strolled out onto the road, followed by one of her cubs, followed by, not the other cub, but a big male! I was frankticly rummaging for the binoculars, although I was fairly convinced it would be the father, as he bent to test Karula's urine! A little bit early for that I think, with the cubs only being 10 months old, Karula is still providing for them and they are still dependent on her but none the less he was checking.

Karula and cubs at rest and play captured by Stacy
Sure enough there was the heart! Marc excitedly exclaimed in my ear. "Oh I've just seen you've got them! Can I go live?"
"Yes, yes, yes, go live!!"
I was shaking with excitement as father was joined by his son, wrapping his tail in affection around his neck just as we went live! At one stage Karula was to our left, the cubs played to our right occasionally being joined by their mother while Yambilu-Jordaan watched and waited patiently!  

Leaving dad behind, the rest of the family enjoyed some boisterous play as they headed to Vuyatela access. A streak of spots leaped into a tree, followed by another, with Karula pouncing up and almost pulling one of her kids from the tree on more than one occassion! What an absolute delight to see our lady seem not to have a care in the world!

Karula jumping into the tree with both cubs in it!
She did look a bit on the lean side and maybe that spurred her to take the play back into the bush and search for food and headed back in the direction of her mate. Just as she met up with him again a duiker sprang from it's hidding place. It took a few moments to register, then Karula was off, bounding after it at speed! Meanwhile Xivindzi started to follow and then realised it probably wasn't the best idea so turned to see her brother following Yambilu-Jordaan and decided to do the same!

Having 3 vehicles in the sighting and knowing Yambilu-Jordaan, I didn't want to stress him out especially if the cubs were in his care, so we went to find out if Karula had been successful. Sadly for her she came back empty handed. Sniffing the ground, maybe to find a scent of a possible meal or her cubs, she wound her way this way and that. Eventually she started to call; low at first and then louder as there came no response.

Little male
She headed in the direction of where the cubs went possibly following their scent trail. Her path was blocked a couple of times as a hyena, who might have heard the calls from earlier, zigzagged its way through the bush in the hope of finding breakfast. Thankfully Karula was experienced enough to lie low and remained undiscovered.

Xivindzi 4 Sept 2011
Once the hyena had passed by, Xivindzi was the first to greet her mother then eventually the male appeared.  Both soon tired of the tree Karula had picked as a vantage point and play commenced on the ground again, stopping only when the hyena returned. Both watched as the loner looked on. Xivindzi must have taken it's hesitance to approach as a sign of uncertainty and began to approach it. To my amazement the adult hyena  ran off! 
Xivindzi watching the hyena!
We made space for another vehicle and was later informed Yambilu returned at some stage and left again as Karula went East towards the drainage line at the back of our camp.

Yambilu-Jordaan feeding 2 Sept 2011
I must admit I still can't believe what WE have witnessed with this family today and recently. Only 2 days ago, 2nd Sept, Yambilu was feeding on a nyala carcass in a tamboti tree, just a meter from his almost 3 year old son, Induna, who was sleeping! WE are still unsure who made the kill as Marc discovered it in the drainage line East of Gowrie Cutline in the Tamboti forest, the previous day with both males present! Aside from the fact we had father and son sharing a meal, WE were also treated to hearing the cackling laughter of hyena, who became very animated every time a piece of food was dropped. As they Chased each other in and out and around the vehicles, I was thinking one might forget we were there and run head long into us as they were so focused on making sure they secured a share in the spoils! Thankfully we were "part of the furniture" and no collisions occurred during the commotion!

Matimba males
After all that it seems a shame not to mention the Matimba male lions who were residing with us for a few days while they fed on a buffalo carcass at Buffleshoek dam. It was first found on the 1st Sept and had probably been killed that night by the 5 big males. While they slept off their huge expanded bellies on Friday, a parade of pachyderms interrupted them and there was no messing about from either side. The lions respectfully gave way to a 40 strong wall of elephants and kept a low profile, while the normally gentle giants skirted around where the kill and lions had been, neither wanting to get too close to the other!

I also enjoyed spending time with our favourite crash of 6 rhino, Marc had a brilliant sighting of elephants yesterday at Gowrie dam and Seb is bonding with the baby hyena at the den, especially the new arrival. A tiny little cub who hasn't even got it's spots yet! 

Thank you to everyone sending in pictures it is greatly appreciated and apologies for some slightly blurred pictures unfortunately it was a little too dark at those points for my camera to work well but thought you might like to see them anyway!  

Written by Tara


  1. Wonderful as always
    Thanks Tara
    Our lives would be a lot less fulfilling without our Wild Earth and in particular Djuma.

  2. It has been an amazing few days Tara! Thanks so much for posting this.... I have tears of happiness in my eyes!

  3. Thank you Tara! I haven't been able to watch whole drives for the last 3 days due to work. I did however manage to catch the drive with the whole family!!!!! very exciting !!!!!

  4. Thanks Tara. I was lucky enought to be up and a participant in the viewing. It was truly wonderful. Such a wonderful experience. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed these drives especially since returning as the Djuma Safari. It seems to be more of a family and friend experience. Thanks so much for letting me come along for the ride.