Richmond to Kruger via Imfolozi and Eswatini (Swaziland). June / July 2022.

 4.  Djuma Game Reserve   


Djuma is one of the Reserves within the Sabi Sands area of the Greater Kruger Park.  It is regularly featured on the Wild Earth live TV programme.  I started watching it during Covid and, when I read about the possibility of staying there for a few days, decided to go ahead and book it.  Our guide was Steve Faulconbridge who knows the reserve very well and is one of the Safari Live presenters.  His knowledge of the flora and fauna of this area is superb and made for a wonderful, interesting trip.

 Daily Routine 

 There were 6 of us at the Lodge, the other four were all from the States.  Steve and the Wild Earth team stayed at a nearby camp and the cooks came in each day.  We were up early for a drink and rusks before setting out on our morning safari which lasted for about 3 hours.  Back at the Lodge we had breakfast and then time to ourselves until the afternoon/evening safari.

The Wild Earth team consisted of Tessa and a cameraman in an old short wheel-base landrover which allowed them to follow the animals through quite dense bush.   We would see them from time to time on our drives.  


 Our group having breakfast.

 During the drives Steve would often stop and get out at junctions to look for animal tracks.

 Steve with Tessa and the Wild Earth landrover.

Tessa and the cameraman filming us!

Each evening we would stop for a drink and watch the sun set. 

 One of the things I love about the WIld Earth live safaris is being able to follow the lives of specific animals / groups of animals whose territory includes Djuma so I have split the photos up into animal groups.


One of the female leopards whose territory includes Djuma is called Tlalamba and she had 2 cubs in October 2021 which she was still providing for - they stay with the mum for about 18 months.  We saw Tlalamba on a couple of occassions and saw the cubs every day - sometimes on both drives.  The cubs (1 male and 1 female) were about 9 months old so spent a lot of time alone while Tlalamba was hunting.  Steve knew the areas where the cubs tended to spend their time, ably assisted by other guides who were also out and about.  We only saw Tlalamba near her cubs once, most of the time she was busy hunting while they remained where she had left them - we mostly saw them in trees which is the safest place for them.   

 Tlalamba walking past the vehicle - she is so used to them that she takes no notice. 

 Tlalamba scratching (scent marking) a tree.

 Our first sighting of the cubs was in this tree.  We watched them for quite a while as they moved around from time to time and then made their way down the tree and into the bush. 

 One of the cubs seen in the early morning - again in a tree.

Sadly we later heard that both cubs disappeared in mid August.  It would almost certainly have been that either lion,  hyena or another leopard had killed them. 

 On the last day we saw the male cub with an impala in a tree.  Tlalamba would have hoisted it into the tree for them.  He struggled to eat it in the tree and ended up bringing it down to the ground. 


  Over the years hyenas have a really bad press and Wild Earth has tried to show that they are not just nasty scavangers but have a very structured clan heiracy and make their own kills as well as scavanging.  We saw the Djuma Clan on 3 occassions at their den site where they had several cubs of various ages.  When we were there Corky was the matriach, having displaced Ribbon a few months ago.  We were only allowed to watch the cubs at the den site if there was at least one adult present.  It was interesting to see that Corky's two cubs were considered of higher rank that any of the other hyenas who would give way to them.    For the most part the cubs stayed quite close to the den but a couple of times the older ones went further afield.  The adults looking after the cubs are not necessarily their mother and sometimes just one adult is left to look after them while the rest go hunting.  Sadly I didn't write down the names of the adult hyena that we saw - regular Wild Earth viewers can tell them apart by their colouring and spot pattern.          

 When they are very young the hyena cubs are dark brown and look just like a bear cub.  

 One of the older cubs who was interested in our vehicle.


 In 2022 the two prides that have Djuma within their territory are the Nkuhuma and Talamati Prides.   We only saw 1 male lion on a couple of occassions and, once, a female lioness.  The male lion we saw is called Dark Mane (for obvious reasons!) and has sired cubs in both the Nkuhuma and Talamati Prides ( the Talamati Pride is a break-away group from the Nkuhumas).  A couple of years ago Dark Mane was badly injured by a buffalo and could hardly walk, however he survived although he still has a bad limp.  A few of the lionesses have names but not all of them,  Steve thought the female we saw (who was being followed by Dark Mane) was from the Nkuhuma Pride.  I heard recently that Dark Mane had had another encounter with a buffalo in November and later died as a result of internal injuries.

 Dark Mane.

The Nkuhuma female.

 She was walking 20 to 30 metres ahead of Dark Mane.

 Dark Mane limping towards us.


 On our first afternoon drive we saw a couple of family groups come and drink at one of the waterholes.  Another day we watched 2 bull elephants pulling branches down from a tree.  Steve was quite happy to park up close to them so we could watch them - at one point he did have to back up to avoid a branch coming down on top of the vehicle. 


 Steve's knowledge of Djuma and buffalo movements meant that on several occasions he was able to predict where a distant herd might appear.       

One time we watched as a large herd became very agitated near a large bush but there were no predators nearby.  We later discovered that a buffalo calf had been killed by that bush a few days before.

 If you look carefully you can just make out the Wild Earth cameraman on the landrover filming the buffalo herd - and us!

Honey Badger

 Amazing that, over a couple of days, we saw honey badgers on 3 occassions.  The first time was when the female lioness we'd been following suddenly bounded foreward and we then saw a honey badger standing up to her - in the end the lioness gave up!  Sadly it was over so quickly that I didn't manage to get a photo.   On the other 2 occasions we saw two honey badgers together and were surprised that they didn't rush off as soon as our vehicle appeared.   


 Fork-tailed Drongo

 Grey Heron

 Ground Hornbill

 Lilac-breasted Roller

 Magpie Shrikes

 White-crested Helmet-Shrike

Other Animals

 Dwarf Mongoose   


 Male Nyala

 A hippo we saw several times in Djuma Dam. 

Last updated: December  2022