Keepers' Diaries, April 2015

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The Umani orphans are extremely fat and healthy and if you could call an elephant glossy, glossy they are. Umani is a perfect habitat for the orphans who need a gentler environment because of past trauma, whether from injuries sustained from poaching, or medical health issues as was the case with our recent arrivals who joined the group this month.

01 April 2015

Murera came out of her stockade this morning full of energy charging at every tree in the vicinity, before breaking off some branches and covering her head with them. Sonje was more relaxed and browsed peacefully next to Murera, while keeping an eye on Zongoloni. Zongoloni was keen to keep close to Sonje and continued to make little trumpeting sounds in the bushes to make sure that Sonje didn’t leave her behind. Ngasha became disorientated in the bushes, lost the rest of the orphans and ended up in a dry area without soft greens to feed on. The Keepers became aware that he had become lost in the bushes and called his name. When he heard the Keepers he responded quickly and led the way out of the bushes towards the keepers and the bottles, followed shortly by Zongoloni. Zongoloni went straight to her feeding station and picked up her bottle with style, leaving greedy Lima Lima waiting to be fed by the Keepers. After the bottle feeding time, the orphans left for the bushes, once again looking for water from the previous night’s rain. It was a cold day, so the orphans were not interested in going to the waterhole, but content instead to look for standing water in the bushes.

02 April 2015

The rain started early in the morning, before the elephants were out of their enclosure. The dreary weather meant that the babies were not very eager to go and get rained on outside, instead they waited in their rooms for the rain to stop. Murera was the first to venture out, but upon turning round to see who was following, she saw that the others were remaining firmly under cover, so she returned to the stockade. Zongoloni seemed particularly unwilling to face the weather and was staying close to her adopted mother Sonje waiting for the rain to stop. When the orphans finally decided to walk out to the forest, they found it extremely slippery underfoot and whenever they tried to walk with any haste they would lose their footing and stumble. At one point Jasiri fell down completely and, upon seeing this, Lima Lima and Ngasha took the opportunity to try to stand on him. The wet earth made even this difficult, but Lima Lima and Ngasha had much fun keeping Jasiri on the ground and mounting his back.

03 April 2015

Murera came quickly out of her stockade this morning looking for a drink of clean water at the water trough, before joining the herd of young orphans that had already left to browse in the bushes, led by greedy Lima Lima who was charging out in front, just as she does when it’s time for her milk feed. Lima Lima’s excitement was catching and Quanza cheered her on, giving the Keepers a hard time as they shouted to calm Lima Lima down, which she ignored. Ngasha was very keen to know from the Keepers whether or not it was mudbath time as he was certain that his bottle was ready. However, before the Keepers could lead him towards the mudbath, Sonje and Zongoloni took charge and led the herd to the waterhole for a wallow to cool down in the ever increasing morning heat. Upon arrival at the waterhole the babies started splashing water onto their feet to test whether or not the water was warm enough for a wallow.

04 April 2015

Ngasha was looking and feeling very strong this morning and he was keen to try out his strength on any orphan who crossed his path. Lima Lima was unaware that Ngasha was looking for a contest and was the first to come across Ngasha as he blocked the path waiting for a contender. Lima Lima tried to push past Ngasha and despite her attempts to defend herself, Ngasha grabbed her tail and in the ensuing tussle a pushing game started. Despite being confident in his strength, Lima Lima was too strong for Ngasha and won the match. Ngasha didn’t take the defeat well and attempted to mount Lima Lima. The commotion attracted the attention of Jasiri and Zongoloni who joined in the defense of their friend Lima Lima from Ngasha’s mischief. Once Lima Lima had shaken Ngasha off her back she turned to push and defeat Ngasha once again. After the excitement of the morning, the babies visited the dust bath, where they enjoyed themselves throwing soil onto their backs. The day grew hot, so they left the dust bath and sought shade under a nearby Baobab tree. Near the tree there were a number of flat rocks, which attracted the attention of the orphans who enjoyed some games on them. Lima Lima and Zongoloni saw the rocks as a bed and lay down on them, although they proved to be less comfortable than their beds in the stockade.

05 April 2015

Ngasha came out of the stockade this morning and after his 6 o’clock feeding headed out immediately to the forest looking for some soft branches on which to browse. The rest of the herd realised that Ngasha had a good idea and followed him to get some branches. Unfortunately, despite placing their faith in him, Ngasha was unable to find the greens that the others were expecting and so they looked to Faraja to direct them towards the best browse. This venture was more successful and they were soon enjoying the soft greens, rumbling in satisfaction. In the afternoon Faraja led the babies to the waterhole, were Sonje began splashing water onto her feet to test how cold the water was and whether or not it was warm enough for them to enjoy a mud bath. After testing the waters, they decided that it was too cold after all and so after finishing their bottle feed they headed in the direction of the dust bath.

06 April 2015

The day began with lots of drizzle in the early morning and some of the orphans were not keen to leave their stockade for fear of getting rained on. However, Murera, Sonje and Zongoloni left the stockades as soon as the gates were opened, leaving the boys to huddle in the stockade. Lima Lima, upon seeing the other three leaving the stockade, rushed out to join them, despite the rain, to ensure that she would have her share of the food on offer. Finally, despite the rain, even the boys left the stockade to join the others. Lima Lima spotted a Keeper sitting on a nearby rock and went to have a scratch. However, after a short while, her actual intentions became clear when she sought shelter under the Keeper’s umbrella, which he gladly held up to accommodate her; even though it was only big enough to cover her head. When the rain finally stopped, the babies went to the dust bath and had fun with the wet soil, with some of the orphans lying down to allow others to mount them.

07 April 2015

After a very chilly night, the orphans were happy to see the Keepers arising from their tents to prepare the morning feed. Lima Lima and Sonje could barely contain themselves and started pushing on their gates and raising their trunks to sniff the air in the direction of where the milk was being prepared. Zongoloni too pushed her trunk between the bars of the stockade in eager anticipation of the milk bottles. After leaving the stockade, some of the babies gathered at the water trough to drink the clean water, but Murera was already heading towards the browsing fields. Maybe it was because it was a cold morning, but Lima Lima was seen doing what looked like stretching exercises. The reason why became clear when she and Jasiri came together for a pushing match. Lima Lima was prepared for the contest with Jasiri and in the end Lima Lima came out victorious, with the final blow coming as Lima Lima knocked Jasiri down and mounted his back. This act caused Ngasha to courageously come to the assistance of his friend and, after pushing Lima Lima off Jasiri’s back, turned to mount Lima Lima, at which point the Keepers intervened and called time on the pushing games.

08 April 2015

Out in the field, Jasiri and Zongoloni were browsing together, while Ngasha was busy on the other side using his feet to uproot the tough grass that he was having trouble dislodging with just his trunk. Lima Lima had taken a tactical position on the upper side of the field, making sure that Jasiri was below her, so when a pushing match between the two began again, Lima Lima had the gravitational advantage and defeated Jasiri for the second day running. The orphans turned up like clockwork for their bottle feed at midday and, as always, after finishing their feed, the orphans walked away to find posts and trees on which to scratch their itches. Sonje found a particularly good tree on which to scratch and enjoyed scratching some hard to reach places.

09 April 2015

There had been some heavy rain over night, which had caused some tree to fall down and panic the orphans, so they were keen to leave the stockade early in the morning to investigate. Wallowing was very much the order to the day as the orphans were already wet and muddy from the overnight rain. The orphans were showing their excitement and happiness that the rain had arrived and that food and water would be even more plentiful in Kibwezi Forest. At noon, Zongoloni waited patiently for the milk bottles to arrive. She had raised her trunk up smelling in the direction that the milk vehicle usually comes from and was unwilling to move until the bottles finally arrived. After the feeding, Sonje left with the babies in tow, leaving Murera alone with the Keepers. The Keepers were amazed by how silently Sonje had communicated with the babies to let them know that it was time to leave. Murera and the Keepers followed the herd and found Faraja and Jasiri in a clearing containing a lot of soft green grass that they were clearing enjoying immensely. However, Murera was not interested in Faraja and Jasiri, or the soft grass for that matter, and continued back into the forest in a bid to find Sonje and the other orphans. She eventually found them as the herd headed back in search of the Keepers.

10 April 2015

Ngasha left his stockade in a great hurry this morning, stopping only to wait for his roommate Faraja, however Faraja was waiting for his close friend Jasiri, whose gate had not yet been opened, despite Jasiri’s attempts to open it with his trunk. When Jasiri’s gate was finally opened, he charged out towards the store to search for lucerne, however he was disappointed as the onset of the rains has meant there is plenty of green around and the lucerne supplement is not needed. Jasiri’s disappointment was short lived however, as the orphans headed out to look for soft, fresh greens to enjoy. Out in the field, Ngasha came close to Sonje while they browsed. Zongoloni is very jealous of any other baby that tries to get close to Sonje, so Zongoloni pushed Ngasha away from Sonje. Afterwards, Lima Lima spent some time with Ngasha and it appeared that they were competing with each other to see who could browse the fastest. Ngasha got a branch that was nice to eat and tried to copy Sonje’s branch breaking technique, however he still wasn’t quick enough to beat Lima Lima and was left behind. After browsing in the forest, the orphans headed to look for new grass on which to browse. As they reached the area where they were expecting some soft green grass, they came across some buffalos that were also enjoying the lush grass. Murera and the Keepers were the last to arrive at the scene and they found Zongoloni, Quanza and Jasiri making loud trumpeting sounds, which Murera joined in with upon arrival. The Keepers were unsure what the commotion was about, however they soon saw the bushes moving along with a herd of Buffalos running away from the elephants.

11 April 2015

Murera was busy scratching when some rain birds flew over her head making noises, the unfamiliar noise scared Murera, who looked around to see where the strange noise had come from. When she couldn’t find a reason for it hurried over to Sonje, who decided the best idea was to run away from the noise and join the other babies, who were with Quanza, Lima Lima and the rest of the boys. They quickly settled down in the presence of the other orphans and continued with their daily browse enjoying the fresh, lush grass that has already sprouted as a result of the heavy rain in Kibwezi Forest. At feeding time, Lima Lima and Ngasha planned a naughty trick. Upon hearing the vehicle coming carrying the milk, they snuck far away from the rest of the orphans. The vehicle stopped to feed them first, before carrying onto the other orphans. Once Lima Lima and Ngasha had finished, the Keepers who had fed them found themselves far away from the truck. After radioing the other keepers they were surprised to find that Lima Lima and Ngasha had arrived at the truck for a second time, in the hope of securing more bottles of milk.

12 April 2015

The orphans split into two groups today with Sonje calling some of the babies; Jasiri, Ngasha, Faraja and her favourite Zongoloni, to follow her. The orphans decided this was a good idea, leaving Murera behind with the Keepers. Sonje led the group towards the fence-line, following a trail that the wild elephants had made when they visited the stockade the night before. Murera stuck close to the Keepers and they led her into the bushes following Sonje and her group. Sonje stopped to wait for Murera at the chosen browsing area and upon realizing that she wasn’t with them she turned back to look for her, leaving her group, with the exception of Zongoloni, in the care of Lima Lima. Sonje’s search, however, was a short one as she found Murera close by in the company of the Keepers. By the noon mudbath and milk bottle feeding, the babies were all looking very tired. However greedy Lima Lima and Quanza were still in a rush, just in case they missed out on their share of milk bottles.

13 April 2015

Early in the morning Ngasha was up to his usual mischief and spied Lima Lima lying down enjoying the sunshine while having a dust bath. Seeing that Lima Lima was otherwise occupied, Ngasha jumped onto Lima Lima’s back rubbing his belly all over her. Lima Lima was unable to get up to resist, as Ngasha was too heavy. After seeing the apparent fun that Lima Lima and Ngasha were having, Murera headed over to where Sonje was lying down and tried putting her front legs on Sonje’s back, however due to Sonje’s weak back leg, Murera was careful and only tried to play with her for a brief moment before leaving Sonje lying on the ground in peace. As always, the babies ran for their midday bottle feed. Quanza and the greedy Lima Lima managed to avoid the Keepers, who always separate them to feed them last. However today they managed to trick the Keepers and arrived first at the feeding station screaming in excitement for their milk.

14 April 2015

The orphans had a wonderful morning enjoying the fresh grass that has sprouted since the rains began. Zongoloni was having trouble getting as much fresh grass as she wanted and got jealous when she saw how much Faraja had, so tried to grab some grass from his mouth. Lima Lima saw this, and in order to protect the grass that she was feeding on, moved away from Zongoloni leaving her to browse with Sonje. Today was a special milk feed as Daphne was waiting to greet the orphans at the feeding ground. The Keepers were very happy to see Daphne at Umani. Initially the orphans didn’t seem to notice Daphne, however Murera noticed, recognized Daphne quickly and went up to the car to say hello and received some greens from Daphne, at which point the rest of the orphans realised who was in the car and rushed over to greet Daphne.

15 April 2015

The day started normally, with Murera taking her herd into the bushes for a browse after their morning feed, followed by the Keepers. Murera and the other babies were currently unaware of the new arrivals in the shape of Balguda and Ziwa who were currently en route from the Nairobi nursery to begin the next chapter of their life and rehabilitation at Umani Springs and Kibwezi Forest. Shortly after heading out to browse, the Keepers could hear the truck carrying Balguda and Ziwa as it neared the stockades. They called the orphans back to the stockade so that they could welcome and receive the two new members of their group. On arriving back at the stockade, Murera’s group realised that the arrival of the truck meant the arrival of new group members. Lima Lima, Zongoloni, Sonje, Ngasha and Murera waited at the door for it to be opened, although Lima Lima and Ngasha’s attention was diverted by the presence of milk bottles. Once the doors were opened, Ziwa and Balguda were able to walk out of the truck. Ziwa was initially confused, perhaps he was expecting to return to Tsavo, whereas Balguda raised his trunk up to see if he could identify or recognize the members of the greeting party. Balguda recognized Ngasha and immediately tried to greet him, but Ngasha was naughty as always and tried to mount and bully him. However, the Keepers were prepared for such behaviour and ready to protect the new arrivals from any over exuberant behaviour. Balguda stuck close to this nursery Keeper and after walking around the stockade to familiarize the new arrivals with the stockade, they headed into the bushes to graze. Lima Lima and Quanza tried to remain close to Ziwa, while Balguda was content to follow his nursery Keeper while they looked for soft greens. Balguda and Ziwa soon began to enjoy the plentiful food that exists in Kibwezi forest and began to seem more settled. Ngasha, however, seemed intent on bullying Balguda, who was his good friend in Nairobi, and the Keepers had to go to Balguda’s defense once again. The day ended well however, with the new members being brought back to the stockade first, before any of the others. The night heralded the arrival of yet more heavy rain, resulting in more trees and branches falling down. This caused Balguda and Ziwa to be very nervous, so the Keepers stayed with them until after midnight at which point they settled down and the Keepers returned to their tents for the remainder of the night.

16 April 2015

The orphans came out of the stockades this morning with an important decision to make: Where to browse in the morning. In the end all the babies chose to head to the grassland to make the most of the soft lush grass and to introduce Balguda and Ziwa to the fields before heading into the bushes to browse on the branches. Faraja lead the way with Zongoloni close behind, followed by the rest of the herd. Balguda and Ziwa seemed very content this morning and trumpeted happily while walking in the company of Murera and Sonje. Quanza was aware of the intentions of the naughty bully boys, and placed herself to defend the babies, particularly Balguda, against any mischief that Ngasha might try. After a good time spent feeding on the soft grass, Zongoloni led the way towards the dust bath and began digging into the soil with her tiny tusks. Sonje noticed that Zongoloni had wandered off towards the dust bath area and followed with Balguda and Ziwa to show them the dust bath area and how the soil was a different colour to what they’d been used to at the Nairobi nursery. Later in the day, Balguda became interested in heading into the forest to browse some of the soft branches from the trees, however being very new to the area he did not know where to go, so he convinced Ngasha, Quanza and Lima Lima to join him so that he wouldn’t get lost. On the way back to the stockade in the evening, Ziwa and Balguda were joined by Ngasha and the greedy Lima Lima. However, Lima Lima had her mind on one thing; her milk, and so rushed ahead leaving Balguda and Ziwa stranded by the gate as they waited for the Keepers to collect them and show them back to their stockade, as they couldn’t remember where to go.

17 April 2015

The orphans woke after a night full of activity as wild elephants had come to visit them in their night stockades. However the wild herd didn’t stay for long as they could smell the presence of the Keepers. The new babies; Balguda and Ziwa, are settled in well and happy in their new stockade. However Balguda is still wary of the naughty boys, like Ngasha, and gives them plenty of space when walking past them. This morning Balguda was browsing by himself away from the others when he was spotted by Sonje. Sonje thought it wasn’t a good idea for Balguda to be browsing alone, so she joined him in case he needed protection from the pushy boys, who were still looking to test the new babies. However, Balguda seemed busy and relaxed as he browsed, certain of the fact that the Keepers would protect him from any mischief, however he moved closer to them just in case and was followed by Sonje. Ziwa spotted some soft branches hanging down within reach so he broke some off and fed on them. At the noon feeding time, Zongoloni heard the Keepers calling their names and lead the babies towards the feeding ground. Lima Lima was being blocked by the Keepers so that she wouldn’t disturb Balguda and Ziwa and the other babies who don’t drink their milk very quickly. However, Lima Lima had other ideas and hid herself in an area where the Keepers would not be able to see her running towards the milk. This tactic was successful and Lima Lima managed to avoid the Keepers and reach the feeding station without being stopped. After feeding, Quanza went to spend some time with Balguda. She patted Balguda’s belly with her trunk as if to comfort him and to convince him not to shy away from the other orphans.

18 April 2015

After the 6am feeding and as the Keepers were washing the used bottles and preparing to open the gates, Zongoloni got restless and started pushing and trying to open her gate herself. After a great deal of pushing, she managed to get it open and ran out looking for Sonje, before being distracted by the branches that were hanging down around the stockades and headed out to browse. Once the Keepers had opened the stockade Zongoloni was followed by her adopted mother Sonje and the other babies, as they were keen to find out where Zongoloni had decided was the best place to browse. Ziwa followed Murera very closely, aware of the fact that Ngasha and Jasiri the tail grabber might try to hassle him if he was by himself. The presence of Murera and the Keepers, who were close by, kept the naughty boys at bay and they enjoyed a relaxing browse. During the morning the orphans came across a troop of baboons that were making a lot of noise in the forest. Ziwa, who has been a bit nervous of loud noises since his noisy journey down to Umani, was unsure where the noise was coming from or what animal was making the noise, so he ran back to the safety of the Keepers, with his ears out, ready to defend himself against anything that might come out of the bushes. Quanza had a fun time by getting into the middle of the group of orphans and then causing them to run away. Balguda saw the other babies running and joined in. The Keepers eventually called the babies to calm down and Balguda, who was tired from all the running, went to the Keepers and relaxed with them for a while before Lima Lima came to collect him once again.

19 April 2015

Murera came out of her stockade full of excitement, looking like she wanted to play with everyone and making trumpeting sounds as she headed out following the other orphans who had already left for the bushes. Zongoloni was having trouble keeping up with babies as Jasiri was trying to block her so that he could grab her tail. Zongoloni, however knew what he was planning and turned to face him and warn him not to try anything. Out in the field, Murera was pushing against the earth to sharpen her tusks and was also digging up and eating some of the soil. The Keepers believed this was because Murera wanted some of the minerals and salts that were present in the earth. At the midday feeding, Balguda and Ziwa were escorted by Zongoloni to the bottle feeding ground to meet up with the Keepers who were waiting with their bottles. As usual, Zongoloni picked up and drank her bottles without any help from the Keepers, which amazed Ziwa and Balguda who still need the Keepers help to drink their milk. After the feeding, Balguda and Ziwa joined the Matriarchs, Murera and Sonje, to discourage the naughty ones from trying anything with them. This proved to be a good idea and they browsed peacefully together without any interference from the boys. Balguda is gaining in confidence and has started exploring new places by himself, however the Keepers are keeping a close eye on him to make sure that he is safe. In the afternoon, Ngasha showed Ziwa the route to the waterhole, however upon arrival Ziwa changed his mind as he sense the water was not warm enough for him to wallow. Balguda also kept his distance from the water as he has always disliked wallowing, but the rest of the babies were shown the way by Murera and Sonje who jumped into the waterhole followed by Lima Lima and then the rest of the babies. Lima Lima and Quanza had a great time and seemed to be having a swimming competition, which was lovely to see.

20 April 2015

Jasiri the tail grabber was up to his usual tricks this morning and was seen running towards Zongoloni. However Zongoloni knows him too well and was prepared and turned around very quickly to push Jasiri away. Zongoloni has the protection of Sonje, who when she sees her beloved baby being bullied by Jasiri, helps to push him away into the bushes and makes sure he keeps away from the babies. Murera is another elephant who won’t put up with Jasiri’s mischief and Jasiri is quick to disappear into the bushes when Murera comes to the defense of her babies. Murera has always been the best disciplinarian because of the long tusks that she has. At the natural water hole, where the wild elephants often come to wallow at night, the orphans stopped to sniff the smells left by their wild friends the night before. Sonje went to the edge of the water hole and started splashing water onto her feet to test whether it was warm enough for a wallow. She decided that it was and she and Murera started wallowing and convinced the other babies to join them. In the end all the orphans, with the exception of Balguda joined in and soon the water was full of elephants having fun. Balguda has never been fond of wallowing, even at the orphanage, and is happy to watch the proceedings from the sideline. After wallowing, Murera took off with Zongoloni to get a drink of clean water from the waterhole, before walking back to the stockades for the night.

21 April 2015

When the elephant came out from the stockades in the morning, Murera raised her trunk up and sniffed the air. The Keepers realised that she smelled the wild bull that was hanging around in the bushes hoping to find a friend among the orphans. Murera was keen to investigate, but Sonje wasn’t convinced, so Murera headed into the bushes alone. The Keepers saw Murera heading off by herself and shouted her name, which caused her wild friend to run away, fearing the presence of the human Keepers. The wild elephants in Kibwezi Forest have been greatly affected over the years by poaching and deforestation, making them nervous of the smell or sound of humans. Hopefully the fencing of the Forest and anti-poaching work undertaken by DSWT will make the wild elephants feel more relaxed in the future. As the Keepers went looking for Murera to bring her back for her bottle feed and mud bath, the orphans were left in the capable hands of Sonje and Lima Lima. Balguda was very relaxed and enjoying browsing among the new grass with his friend Ziwa, so relaxed that they almost forgot that it was time for their midday milk feed. Luckily greedy Lima Lima and Ngasha knew what time it was all too well and Zongoloni reminded Quanza, so they all headed off to find their bottles. After the feeding, the elephants headed towards the water hole and showed Balguda and Ziwa how much fun can be had when they wallowed as one big family. It was a hot day so some of the babies decided to have another wallow before heading back to the stockade in the evening, but once again Balguda chose not to wallow and went for a drink of clean water instead.

22 April 2015

As a result of the heavy rain that has been falling on Kibwezi Forest over the last month, there is standing water everywhere and the natural waterholes that have been dug by wild elephants are full of water, which means that the wild elephants, buffalos and the orphans don’t have to walk far to look for water to wallow in. Over the last few days the orphans have been heading into the bushes whenever they need a wallow to cool down rather than heading up to their normal waterhole near Umani Springs. Today, as the babies headed to the bottle feeding ground, being led by Balguda and Ziwa with Lima Lima and Zongoloni escorting the rest, they diverted towards a natural water hole for a wallow. They had such a fun time that when they arrived for their feed they were all covered in dark mud, looking more like buffalos than elephants, which presented a problem to the Keepers; how to give them their bottles without being smeared by the trunks of the wet muddy orphans. Luckily Zongoloni and Jasiri are able to pick up the bottles by themselves, however the rest of the orphans were taken to the dust bath for a while to dry off before being brought back for their bottle feed.

23 April 2015

Balguda’s confidence is growing by the day and today he decided that he knew the area well enough to head off by himself to the browsing areas with the best soft greens without waiting to be led there by Lima Lima and the others. Faraja saw Balguda heading off to browse by himself and decided to follow him, Jasiri seeing the two of them heading off decided to join too. Ziwa had joined the girls’ group, led by Quanza and they headed into the forest to browse, followed by Ngasha. Balguda’s strategy paid off and he found an area with sweet branches to feed on and he continued deeper and deeper into the bushes followed by his friend Faraja and Jasiri. Ziwa eventually abandoned the girls’ group and joined his friend Balguda to enjoy the sweet and soft greens before heading off to the milk feeding point at the waterhole.

24 April 2015

Lima Lima led the orphans out this morning, however she seemed more intent to follow her Keeper than to get to the best browsing area, so Murera took over the lead with Balguda following close behind. Balguda followed Murera into the forest before breaking away to find his own soft branches and grass to eat. Murera came across a big strong tree and took the opportunity to have a scratch on it. Ngasha was busy picking the best grass. After the orphans had had their midday feed at the water hole, Jasiri spied some baboons heading his direction. As he was feeling very brave, Jasiri decided to spread his ears out wide and charge the troop of baboons that were blocking Balguda’s path. Jasiri stood firm and scared the baboons away, leaving Balguda free to continue on his way. After the excitement with the baboons, the elephants continued to browse calmly in the grasslands, with Ziwa taking the opportunity to have a scratch on a tree after watching Murera do the same in the morning. Murera crossed some rocks to head towards a natural water hole. The water was warm and the orphans decided to have a fun, muddy wallow.

25 April 2015

Out in the field, Quanza walked a bit of a distance away from where the other babies were playing and found a cool green area to browse in on her own. Ziwa and Faraja browsed peacefully together, enjoying the soft green and lush grass. Ziwa is beginning to put on more weight and is already noticeably in better condition than when he arrived at Kibwezi Forest. His appetite is very good, he is eating well and he is now very energetic and becoming greedy just like the other girls and boys in the Murera family. He must have taken tips from Lima Lima and Zongoloni. Today, Ngasha lost the keepers and, after Zongoloni left with Lima Lima, decided to team up with Sonje to search the bushes for nice branches to browse on. Zongoloni soon returned to her adopted mother, Sonje, and became very jealous when she saw Ngasha walking closely alongside her. Zongoloni was afraid that Sonje might switch her affections to Ngasha, so she pushed Ngasha hard on his bottom with her little tusks to tell him to keep his distance, which, for his own safety, he did

26 April 2015

In the morning, after being released from the stockade, Murera decided to follow a path into the forest made by the wild elephants as they walk to the stockade to see the orphans at night. As Murera headed deeper into the forest, with Balguda following, the Keepers heard loud trumpeting coming from the bushes in the direction that Murera was heading. The Keepers became worried for tiny Balguda’s safety in the presence of the wild bulls that were trumpeting in the forest so they called Murera and Balguda back to safety. Ziwa was very brave and interested in the trumpeting so he headed off to try to join the wild herd, however they forced him back, as his smell was mixed with the smell of his human family, and he returned to Lima Lima and Quanza, who were browsing near the Keepers. The interaction with the wild herd made Ziwa very happy and he turned to his friend and stockade mate Balguda to tell him something. However Balguda didn’t appear interested and turned towards his favourite Keeper rather than listening to his friend. Ziwa gave up and returned to browse in the thick bushes, followed by Faraja, cleverly avoiding Jasiri and his tail grabbing tricks. At the waterhole, the orphans had a fun time when the whole of Murera’s family got together and splashed water to test whether it was warm enough to have a bath, before heading off for their midday bottle feed.

27 April 2015

Balguda came out of the stockade looking for Sonje, who was already out with her adopted baby Zongoloni. When Zongoloni saw Balguda walking towards Sonje, she tried to block him from getting close to Sonje. Balguda, as a new comer to the group, has not yet learnt how fervently Zongoloni protects her position as Sonje’s adopted daughter and how jealous she gets of anyone that looks likely to steal Sonje’s affections. Having been blocked from greeting Sonje, Balguda joined up with Ziwa and followed Murera into the forest to browse. The rest of the orphans headed to the water trough for a drink, before also heading into the bush to feed. In the forest, Ziwa, who is still wary of strange noises, heard some bushbucks making noises in the forest and turned around, looking nervous, with his ears out wide, anxiously looking around ready to face anything that might come at him from the bushes. At the midday bottle feeding, Ziwa, once again, was spooked by a strange sound over his head, which turned out to be two crowned cranes, and took up a defensive position once again.

28 April 2015

Sonje had an itchy cheek today that was annoying her, so she was forced to find a suitable scratching post to help relieve the itch. She finally came across one in the forest and had a lovely time scratching her cheek and removing the ticks that were causing the irritation. On the other side of the browsing area, Balguda was busy showing how energetic he was by pulling down some loose bent trees to prove to the Keepers how much stronger he was compared to when he arrived. Sonje arrived and touched Balguda’s belly with her trunk which calmed him down and he looked very content, however he kept an eye on Zongoloni in case she became jealous of how close he was walking to Sonje. While Sonje was with Balguda, Ziwa was having a pushing match with Faraja to prove to the girls that he had grown stronger since arriving in the forest earlier this month. Ziwa won the match and Faraja accepted the defeat and headed into the bushes to browse. On the way back to the stockade in the evening, the orphans headed through the grasslands to feed on the soft green grass before being led back to the stockade by Murera.

29 April 2015

When the orphans came out of the stockade this morning, Balguda decided to link up with Quanza and let her choose where to browse. Balguda’s stockade mate Ziwa, however, chose to team up with Faraja and tail grabber Jasiri. However Ziwa and Faraja were well versed in Jasiri’s tricks and were watchful of him and their tails. Murera was also keeping a close eye on Jasiri in case he decided to grab Balguda’s tail and decided to keep Balguda close to her for better protection. Sonje too was wary of Jasiri’s intentions towards Balguda so joined Murera. With the protection of two mothers, Balguda’s tail was safe from Jasiri. At the waterhole after their milk bottle feeding, Balguda headed towards Sonje, who came over to talk to him, putting her trunk in his mouth to smell what he was chewing on. Once the orphans were safely back in their stockades after a long day walking in the forest it began to rain very heavily for a few hours. The orphans were initially disturbed by the sound of the rain but eventually Murera, Balguda and Ziwa fell asleep and slowly the other orphans dropped off too. Finally Faraja fell asleep and almost immediately began snoring loudly, which gave the Keepers something to laugh at.

30 April 2015

In the morning, the orphans headed straight to the browsing fields to fill up their stomachs, which were empty after a long night in the stockade. The rain from the previous night and the morning dew had made the grass wet underfoot, which the orphans didn’t like as it made their feet cold. Balguda decided to walk by himself, rather than risk being pushed or squashed by the rowdy elephants like Faraja and Zongoloni, who occasionally like to assert themselves on the new babies. Balguda enjoyed taking his time picking the best soft greens to fill his stomach. Lima Lima saw that Balguda was feeding by himself and decided to join him to feed together. Ziwa was accompanied by many of his friends, but that meant that there was a lot of jostling and strength testing as the orphans played together. Ziwa is beginning to build up his body weight and Faraja and Ngasha no longer bother him these days as he is strong enough to challenge them. However Jasiri and Zongoloni still bully him from time to time, for no apparent reason. Eventually Lima Lima decided that her stomach was full, so she laid on the ground and rolled on the grass trying to convince Balguda to play with her. Balguda didn’t appear interested and continued to browse and stand silently, however she entertained the visitors to Umani Springs and her foster parents enjoyed seeing her so happy.