Keepers' Diaries, April 2016

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The long rains have arrived in Kibwezi Forest, the forest drawing significant storms, so Kibwezi forest has received more than most places within the Tsavo ecosystem. At first the orphans were reluctant to get their bodies wet amidst the thick damp vegetation, instead choosing to walk along the drier paths! However, they soon celebrated the delicious new green shoots and abundant lilies that sprouted with the arrival of rain, and before long were feasting on the thick growth of grass as well. Numerous small mud baths were also created by the rain, along with moist soil in which to slip and slide and plaster on their bodies every day to condition their skin. Some of the babies, such as Lima Lima and Zongoloni, have retained a habit they picked up in their Nursery days - hiding their heads under their Keepers’ umbrellas when heavy rain falls.

01 April 2016

The elephants felt very itchy in the morning. As soon as they came out of their stockade Sonje and Murera brought all the babies over to scratch on the stone walls near their stockade gate. Murera began the scratching followed by Ziwa and all babies followed suit, putting their necks out on the edge of the scratching stone wall to remove the insects. Two antelopes appeared chasing each other from the bushes crossing over to where the orphans were enjoying their browse. The male bushbucks crossed near to where the naughty boys Ngasha and Faraja were busy climbing on their female friend Zongoloni. Faraja fell off Zongoloni when he heard the noise in the bushes, fearing the animal that might be there, and all the orphans ran away from the noise to where there keepers were watching them, and had to calm them down. Murera and Sonje struggled to make sure that Ziwa was close to them

02 April 2016

Following the heavy rain last night, the orphans found the paths were full of water and long grass, making it very hard for them to walk along them; instead they all walked along the road to avoid the wet and watery paths. Ngasha found it especially hard to walk through the wet paths and he did not like the long grass getting his feet all wet. Murera also tried hard to move away from the wet paths and follow the keepers; she hit the grass with twigs to remove some of the water on the leaves. Faraja and Ngasha a found it very necessary to be walking behind keepers to wherever they were heading, without giving the keepers a rest the whole day; when they tried to stop the two boys pushed them to walk towards the Umani Hills where it did not rain so much and it was a little drier for the elephants to enjoying walking. When it was time to come back home after the long days walk foraging around the Umani Hills, Quanza and Zongoloni were the leaders, leading all the matriarchs’ and the mini matriarch Lima Lima which was not usual. But when the orphans were only a few meters from the stockade gate, Lima Lima took over running to her stockade before Quanza could reach there. Quanza arrived and found Lima Lima had already finished her milk and waiting to get more however possible.

03 April 2016

The day started well for the babies, after taking their morning milk bottles very early, the keepers opened the gates for the babies to come out and begin their day. Lima Lima and Quanza behaved as if they had some close and secretive discussions as roommates, planning how they would start their day differently. As soon as the gates were opened for them, Lima Lima and Quanza came straight out and directly to the lucerne store to grab some bails and drag them along the ground; they had to drag them and they spilled quite a lot on the way as the bails were too heavy for them. Then the other babies came for the bails and some ended up fighting over the lucerne. The keepers had to intervene and push a wheelbarrow around for the orphans to feed on instead because everyone was looking for the lucerne store. After feeding on the lucerne, they headed out to begin their day along the water springs area to search for clean water. Ngasha and Faraja took them to the water springs area, but found some crocodiles basking in the sun. The crocodiles’ senses told them the elephants were approaching and the babies just heard the crocodiles drop into the water springs, but without knowing what they were.

04 April 2016

Crested crane birds were flying around the top of the big trees in the forest along the Umani water springs, causing the elephants to be very curious about the unique sound made by their flapping wings. Ngasha, Zongoloni and some others ran away fearing what was flying over their heads in the thick bush while they were foraging very peacefully. Only Lima Lima was not scared of the birds but was a very brave girl. She panicked a bit but then gained some courage pointed at the sky using her trunk, showing the others which direction the birds were making the noise in. Zongoloni relaxed and patted Jasiri on the belly using her trunk to comfort Jasiri and encourage him not to be scared anymore. Zongoloni took the babies to the springs as they were walking around foraging; they walked to the Kenze base line area to change up their routine a bit and bump into fewer other animals. Sonje and Ziwa were walking very slowly behind as if they did not want to go to the hills. Lima Lima was ahead of everyone with Zongoloni already at the top of the hills watching Murera and Sonje down the slopes. At the dust bath time the babies had a lot of fun, throwing huge chunks of soil onto their backs, adding more layers onto their skin.

05 April 2016

There were strange noises coming down the Umani Hills which were echoing around the area; the elephants raised up their big ears to find the direction the noise was coming from. Ngasha, Sonje and Ziwa, heard it and the direction it was coming from. Murera was with keepers she trusted very much, but it turns out they were running around for no reason... it turned out to be just a troop of baboons fighting on the hills and their babies crying loudly. Today we also saw the big python, which is very seasonal to Umani as some times it disappears not to be seen for awhile and then it returns for awhile. Today it came and that seems to be the reason the baboons were screaming so loudly in the tree fearing that big snake. The Keepers moved the babies away from there to new foraging places with plenty of vegetation, avoiding the big python the babies have never seen before since coming to Umani.

06 April 2016

It was very busy morning for Sonje to find a slightly bigger and much stronger tree for her big body to perform her unique scratching styles on, raising her left hind leg very high to remove all the insects annoying her. In the meantime Ngasha and Faraja, the naughty boys, were trying to control the rest of the herd and separate them from Sonje. Lima Lima and Zongoloni took over the role of leading the others separately away from the boys. Within the forest, Zongoloni found a natural waterhole with plenty of water inside after the rain overnight and again this morning, but she chose to walk behind her keepers instead who were going for the usual mudbath and bottle feeding routine at the main mud bath ground for the midday feeding. Quanza took over the role again from the mini matriarch Lima Lima to bring the babies home this evening, but while on way some wild elephants passed by on the other side of the path, walking behind them towards the stockades as if the wild ones wanted to know where the orphans sleep. The wild elephants had a very small baby with them and it got a little confused and tried to walk behind Quanza. Quanza was not aware and then the wild mother came over to collect her baby and escort her back under her belly. After awhile the wild elephants heard the keepers as well and decided not to follow the orphans anymore but return back into the forest, fearing the safety of their youngest and most vulnerable member.

07 April 2016

Murera brought Ngasha over to her side, leaving Sonje with Ziwa to forage their own separate way from the main group. Murera led Ngasha to the scratching rock; the stone wall is the favourite site for them in the early morning and very helpful for them to remove some annoying insects. It then began to rain and all the babies looked happy with the big rain drops falling on them as they rolled on the wet earth, putting more mud on their skin to make it even tougher. Lima Lima and Zongoloni behaved like young babies in the nursery when they saw keepers taking cover under their umbrellas. Zongoloni and Lima Lima sped over to the keepers to hide their heads under the umbrellas like the keepers were doing. They thought themselves special to not to be rained on like the young Ziwa who was just happy rolling around on the mud, with Sonje watching him close by. The earth turned very slippery for some of the babies to walk through, like Murera who could not go easily but had some difficulty walking down the areas at a slope, instead she tried to slide her feet on the slippery mud. When the rain stopped the babies headed towards the Kenze base line where they found a lot of soft food to forage on. They enjoyed the remaining part of the day which ended smoothly.

08 April 2016

Every morning when the babies come out of their night stockades, they all run very fast looking for a scratching post or anything that will help them scratch their itchy bodies before going foraging. Mostly they turn to the scratching stone walls which look very rough and good for their skin. Today when all the orphans came out they all went to the wall and they put all their necks along the wall and swung them from side to side to have a good scratch. Sonje took Ziwa to her side and started to pat his belly very gently. After a few minutes the keepers saw the babies hurrying to the bushes heading towards the Umani Hills where there were some wild elephants on the top of the hills browsing very peacefully. Murera also was using a zigzag motion to make her way safely to the top. Lima Lima and Zongoloni were already at the top trying to play with the wild elephant babies there. Quanza was a bit more nervous; she was not aware that a keeper was behind her trying to take pictures of all of them and when she saw him she got such a fright she sped off like a new baby elephant that was not even used to the keepers yet! The swimming time went on perfectly. Sonje went inside the waterhole first to inspect if there were any crocodiles inside and to take them out so that they would all be safer while swimming. When she finished her inspections Lima Lima joined her and they had a good swim together. Later they turned to the dusting soil to add more thick layers to their skins.

09 April 2016

All the babies were very relaxed and peaceful when they came out this morning, with Sonje closely protecting her baby Ziwa from the naughty boys, who were watching him with some kind of intent. Sonje was also alert and watching them though, and Murera went to the other side to give him more protection, thus Ziwa was fully covered by the matriarchs! At the midday bottle feeding time, Lima Lima as always was the first one to arrive; she remains to be number one at leading the herd of babies as she is the greediest baby elephant we have ever had! The other babies next in line are Zongoloni and her friend Jasiri, the two orphans who have developed the clever tactic of holding the bottle for themselves without keeper’s support. The keepers came over to give a stern warning to Lima Lima to stop misbehaving and trying to grab more bottles off her friends. Ziwa is not as fast at drinking like the others; he is the best baby boy in the group. Later Zongoloni got the opportunity to lead the babies back home in the evening with the help of Lima Lima. Murera and Sonje together with Ziwa did not want to walk very quickly whilst returning home. They sometimes behave as if they think it’s their time to start becoming more independent and stay in the forest, but we still think it’s too early for Ziwa to go with Sonje. The moment they become independent and stop returning to sleep in the stockades might mean this for Ziwa too as he is so attached to his two mothers, the matriarchs of this group.

10 April 2016

The orphans spent most of their day on top of the hills. When the times came for them to come down for wallowing the babies felt so hot they headed directly for the waterhole immediately after finishing their milk. All were splashing water on their chests using their trunks. Ziwa then came out from the waterhole looking very muddy, running to the keepers while shaking his head, but the keepers were running away so as not to get muddy. Ziwa was also charging at the baboons which were making funny noises all around him when the babies were busy rolling and enjoying the muddy waterhole. They wouldn’t stop and Murera and Sonje together with Jasiri turned to where Quanza was heading and started a chasing mission. After charging at the troop of baboons the babies turned to charge at anything around them in the forest, including trees of which Jasiri felled many. When they stopped charging, the orphans made their way to the water pipelines where they continued their raucous behaviour and they broke the water pipes to access the clean water. All the elephants put their heads together to rejoice in having the clean water spilling from the pipelines.

11 April 2016

The babies woke in a very jovial mood today – they were all very excited and each elephants was trying to run around trumpeting and pushing each other down. Ziwa’s trumpeting was sounding very loud and like a fully grown elephant. As their trumpeting continued their wild friends from the Chyulu Hills started to respond, causing them to make even bigger and noisier trumpets. The wild elephants were responding and calling back to them, but Murera was not too bothered to find them and instead she decided to walk back to near her keepers.

12 April 2016

Ziwa was scratching against a tree accidentally near to where Jasiri was. He soon realised he was very close to the bullying boy Jasiri and moved away from him so as not to be pushed with the strong tusks Jasiri has. Jasiri turned to face Ziwa but the keeper were around and gave Jasiri a thorough warning by showing Jasiri the accusing finger, which they usually use while disciplining the babies, and Jasiri moved away. Quanza is such a beautiful girl but whenever she is walking close to Lima Lima or Zongoloni and when the keeper is trying to get any picture of her she hides her face and runs away to avoid the camera. Faraja was trying to raise his one leg higher as he was digging some soil using his tusks. Quanza was very close to Faraja and Faraja was also not aware of Quanza right beside him and he knocked his leg into Quanza’s head as she was trying to run away from the Keepers carrying the camera. When Lima Lima was lying playfully on the ground, Jasiri was hiding around the corner waiting for Lima Lima to lie down completely, then Jasiri very quickly ran over and jumped on her back to climb on her. Lima Lima felt the heavy weight of Jasiri and wondered which naughty elephant was climbing on her but she could not see!

13 April 2016

Murera and Ngasha seem to be very great friends. They rumble to each other as they congregate together around a scratching in the morning. Sometimes the orphans are fearful because of Murera’s bullying character using her longer tusks, but these two seem to be friends. Sonje was on the other side doing some body exercises, raising one of her legs high up on a tree as she was enjoying scratching her leg. When all the babies were planning to get ready for the mudbath and bottle feed, Lima Lima was evidently not very happy with the butterflies of which there were just too much in front of her. During this butterfly season at Umani there are all kinds of different coloured butterflies. Mostly it was the white butterflies upsetting Lima Lima because they are bright and she can easily see them. Before they could settle on her head she kept chasing them until she fell on her knees while she was running; Zongoloni kept chasing them in a bid to help Lima Lima. Zongoloni made very big loud trumpeting sounds forcing the other babies to come and join them. Quanza arrived fully charging and whatever she got close to her intended target she kicked forward as if she were kicking a soccer ball, helping the other girls in their funny fight with the butterflies.

14 April 2016

This morning was lovely for Murera because as she came out of the stockade compound this morning she found a big tree which looked very smart for scratching purposes. The tree would also produce very good shade for the babies especially our albinos (Faraja and Jasiri) whose bodies and body hair is very light. When Jasiri saw Murera’s tree he headed there with his friend Faraja for shade. Zongoloni was struggling with how to get the others moving out from the bush because Murera and her friends did not seem to realise that it was already milk feeding time. When Murera came to realise about the bottle feeding time, she immediately started to walk away following Zongoloni. She also saw the keepers walking around to round up the babies calling their names. The other babies knew it was likely feeding time and they all went straight to their bottle feeding point. Zongoloni picked up her bottle off the ground leaving Jasiri’s bottle to wait for Jasiri; Zongoloni knows her shares is two bottles, not like Lima Lima who when finished with her bottles will just go for extra milk bottles that belong to the other babies. Sonje swam so well today and obviously enjoys it. When she reached the edge of the water pool she started inspecting the water using her trunk to see if there were any baby crocodiles inside. After deciding everything was fine she stepped inside the water and swam so nicely that only her head and trunk could only be seen floating on the surface of the water.

15 April 2016

Quanza stood ready to follow her friends to where they were walking in the forest heading towards Kithasyo airstrip. Quanza was waiting to see where Lima Lima could be because she was not leading the others in front as she usually does. Quanza is very trusting of Lima Lima and when she is not close by Quanza is not as happy. We think Lima Lima is her best friend because they have grown up together and she understands Quanza’s history of losing her family and becoming an orphan. Ngasha took the lead, leading all the other babies to the water spring areas to drink fresh, clean water. The babies took their time, enjoying the clean water direct from the springs. Quanza tried to be friendly with the boys but again they were misbehaving today and trying to pull her tail. When she felt Jasiri’s trunk touching her tail Quanza pushed Jasiri away and left the boys to be on their own.

16 April 2016

It was a butterfly day again today and they were following the babies wherever they walked in the forest. When the babies were heading to the mud bath they came across three buffaloes standing in their way. The keepers tried shouting at them to scare them away. In the confusion Murera was surprised to be standing in the middle of the buffaloes and she hurriedly ran away disappearing into the bushes and the keepers struggled to find her. Murera smelt the keepers who were very worried and looking for her from where she was hiding, and came out on her own looking for them too. The lighter boys took over the long day patrols leading the way together as good brothers do; they were both rescued from around the same place in Amboseli but at different times. Sonje approached them and found they were trying to hold Ziwa’s tail; she was very aware of Jasiri being a tail biter who might hurt Ziwa and she pushed him away to leave Ziwa alone in peace.

17 April 2016

The babies schedule began very well in the morning and all the elephants were looking good and ready for the day. The whole herd took off to the hills in the direction of Umani Springs, hoping for a refreshing drink of clean water before trying to follow some trails of the wild elephants that had visited them overnight at their night stockades. Little Lima Lima suddenly stopped however alerting her keepers and the rest of the group to a few bull elephants ‘mixed up with some buffaloes who were approaching. She raised her ears while running back to her keepers to give them the information. The keepers are very attuned to Lima lima’s voice and trumpeting sounds, and knew that things were not right when she shouts loudly like that. She remains the most vigilant little girl to her keepers and always alerts them when anything out of the ordinary comes across their path. When the keepers looked they saw two big bulls approaching where they were seated. Murera and Sonje also stopped when they heard Lima Lima shouting and looked around. The wild elephants later followed the babies for awhile before realising that keepers were close by and after awhile they walked away. At mudbath time all the babies arrived in a very good mood and ready to wallow in the muddy waterhole. Later they went to the dusting soil to dust their wet bodies. Quanza had a fantastic time wallowing in the water today.

18 April 2016

Lima Lima came running and was very excited to see her keeper Amos returning back from his days off. Amos called Lima lima’s name and she came over so excited to see him. Before mud bath and bottle feeding time all the babies came together to gather around a small natural waterhole they found while they were browsing. The smaller waterhole was a little muddy and Ngasha began lying down in it, then all the babies tried to squeeze themselves into this small body of water – all of them wanted at least some mud on the bodies from this water hole! Quanza followed them but used her strong, heavy tusks to push back some of the other babies who were willing to surrender; they feared her because sometimes she can push very hard and has big tusks!

19 April 2016

It was not a big surprise to see Ngasha and Faraja fighting over some pieces of natural salt at the dust bath point today after having their milk. Faraja picked up a piece of salt from the ground then Ngasha got very jealous and started smelling Faraja’s mouth trying to know what he was chewing on. Ngasha found it was broken salts which had appeared due to the rain from the previous night. Faraja had to defend his mouth and not open it to allow Ngasha to take away any of his prize, so they tussled it out by fighting to prove who was stronger than the other. At first the keepers thought it was just a normal game but soon it turned more serious. Jasiri joined the two fighting boys to try and separate them and then Quanza also came over to assist. Quanza is very proud of her strong tusks and joined Jasiri to immediately start pushing Faraja away; Ngasha was pushed away by Jasiri in a different direction to where Zongoloni was with Lima Lima. Satisfied Quanza then left for the dust bath point. She was walking slowly and passed two guinea fowls. She wanted to charge at them but the birds flew up to the trees, leaving Quanza below watching in disbelief and staring at them, wondering how she could get up into the tree too.

20 April 2016

The orphans started their normal daylong patrols very early in the morning, led by Zongoloni with the help of Quanza. They were guiding them to the hills to find some green grass and soft branches. Every trunk was on the ground picking something delicious to eat. Murera got separated from the other babies. It started getting hotter and hotter and Murera wanted the babies to start walking towards the waterhole to cool their burning bodies. Sonje, Ziwa and Murera joined the other young babies who were already vigorously rolling in the cool mud. All the orphans got very muddy and no one could identify which elephant was in the waterhole, all their faces were covered with mud. Ngasha, Zongoloni and Lima Lima wanted to go to the big heap of soil ready for the babies to dust after wallowing. Sonje was having a lovely time with Ziwa and the two did not want to walk away from the waterhole; Ziwa continued hiding his head inside the pool which forced Sonje to stand and wait for Ziwa to finish. Quanza looked very satisfied and followed her friends to where they were enjoying some acacia pods as treats because of Sonje’s birthday celebration today.

21 April 2016

Sonje called Ngasha to her side from where he was browsing and Ngasha listened very keenly to what she had to say to him, responding with low rumbling tones. The keepers thought she was communicating with Ziwa, but it was not Ziwa it was Ngasha. Ziwa and Murera got very jealous as to why Ngasha was with Sonje. Ziwa was very angry with Ngasha and why he got to take his position next to Sonje. He thought he remained the only baby boy to Sonje and did not expect any other baby near her; Murera helped him push Ngasha away back to the other babies. Quanza had a problem with her itchy trunk and she went to scratch it on a post. Ngasha again went up to Sonje and found Zongoloni waiting for him, ready to fight him; Zongoloni wanted to know why he was going to Ziwa’s mother Sonje again and blocking him from enjoying the security of the big matriarchs Murera and Sonje.

22 April 2016

Zongoloni went running to the place which was full of fresh and soft grass for the babies. Lima Lima was there too and because of her greedy character and trying to grab food faster than her friends, a fight broke out between her and Zongoloni. When Lima Lima was defeated she ran away to her favourite keeper who were watching them fighting over the grass, leaving Zongoloni to browse peacefully with Ngasha. Today it seems Zongoloni was really trying to annoy her friends, especially the boys. Ngasha was heading to be with Jasiri and turned to see that Zongoloni was targeting him; he defended himself until Zongoloni surrendered the fight and left to the Umani Hills to browse. The babies turned away to browse peacefully after the pushing games and some exercises, before Jasiri played a trick on the others by pretending there was some strange sound coming from the bushes which they did not know about. Jasiri started trying to scare them by running away but the babies realised there was only some wild elephants approaching the mudbath. When they saw it was only wild elephants coming out to meet with the orphans the keepers were very happy and waited to see Murera’s behaviour and reaction

23 April 2016

The Umani water spring point has become a beautiful attraction for the babies who often like to go there in the morning after they have exited their stockades and had their milk feed. This morning Jasiri downed his water and then headed straight to the springs and began drinking. Unbeknownst to him a very large crocodile was on the opposite side enjoying the rising sun, oblivious to the fact that the elephants were drinking only a few meters away. The keepers however were a little uneasy about the crocodile being so close and called the orphans away to so that they could head to the forest and begin the days browsing. Sonje feigned being tired today lay on the ground while the rest of the orphans browsed. The keepers believed that her intention was to entice Ziwa or Ngasha to mount on her back which they were happy to do. Ngasha lost balance and fell over knocking his head on the ground and leaving Ziwa sitting on Sonje’s back rubbing his bottom against her. When Sonje had her fill of the fun and games she brought Ziwa to the mudbath ensuring that he got his faire share of time in the water before leading him to the dustbath where they had fun throwing red earth all over themselves.

24 April 2016

The greedy babies, Jasiri and Zongoloni, arrived at high speed running to their bottles in a race to see who would arrive first. Today Zongoloni was the fastest and the two drank their share while Ngasha and Faraja waited for the keepers to come and feed them. Lima Lima who was hurrying for her bottles, saw the keeper was slower then her and tried to grab her bottle like she has seen the others do and was successful feeding herself like Jasiri and Zongoloni. When the babies were done with their bottles, Sonje took Ziwa to the water hole and started splashing some water towards his body so that he was ready for wallowing. Some of the orphans felt very itchy and many of them looked for the grasslands where they get some grass to help them dry their bodies before they all turned their bottoms and sat on the ground rubbing vigorously. Zongoloni was misbehaving towards Ziwa, she knocked him down but all this did not go well with Sonje, who was very angry with Zongoloni and came looking for her pushing her to the ground as punishment for what she did to Ziwa. The keepers had to intervene and warned Sonje to stop her behaviour. She sensed they were not happy with her and was quick to head off to the bushes.

25 April 2016

It was very peaceful morning and the orphans were ready to head out to the browsing fields in search of fresh green vegetation. The keepers together with Lima Lima took the babies for a very long walk all the way to the Kenze baseline which they normally take more time before walking there. The long walk to Kenze was very good to the babies as they were able to interact with some wild elephants which they found browsing around the bushes. When Lima Lima got the smell of the wild elephants together with their young ones, she tried to steal the baby from her mother but was prevented from doing so and was reprimanded harshly by the calf’s mother. Quanza was in a very happy and playful mood today charging at everything she saw trumpeting loudly scaring away some baboons which she came across as the orphans headed to the mudwallow. Quanza and Faraja were rushing in an effort to get to the milk bottles first but were beaten to the punch by Lima Lima who was faster than them.

26 April 2016

It is not normal to see male elephants leading an elephant herd, especially one full of females, however, that said, Jasiri took the lead today from Lima Lima and led his friends to the browsing field, where most of the females boycotted his leadership role and separated from him, Sonje led Murera and Ziwa away to a different browsing area. When it was time for the mudbath and milk feed Sonje and Murera rejoined the rest of the group who were once again being led by Jasiri. The orphans were all very hungry and were quick to get the milk feeding area where Zongoloni and Jasiri picked up their bottles and started competing to see who would be finish their share first. Zongoloni who was the first to be able to feed herself and is thus the expert in the group finished just before Jasiri did. Quanza ran from the bottle feeding ground to the scratching post to help her relieve her itchy back and rid herself of some stinging tsetse flies which were causing her a few issues.

27 April 2016

Ngasha had little problem with his friends when they exited their stockades this morning. Faraja started pushing him from the bottom knocking him to the water trough and later Lima Lima did the same thing when he approached her. When he arrived at the feeding grounds he located a good place where he could lie down and sleep for a little bit. He did not ever stir when Lima Lima came to see what he was doing and touched his tail while he slept. The keepers knew the reason why Ngasha was so tired and this was because and Faraja had spent the whole night playing pushing and strength testing games in their stockade. He only woke up when he got bitten by a tsetse fly. Some crane birds made their way to the water hole as the babies were also heading there, Sonje stopped to look at them together with Ziwa before continuing to the waterhole. The orphans were busy enjoyed the mudbath and were interrupted from their wallowing activities when Sonje trumpeted loudly in an effort to scare away the crane birds. Faraja with young Ziwa blew their trunk as loudly as they could to try and warn the keepers that something could be wrong. Their trumpeting was followed by Lima Lima’s whose warnings are always heeded as she has taken it upon herself to protect her human family from all wild animals including wild elephants who happened to be nearby in the afternoon.

28 April 2016

Jasiri seems to be trying to become more a lone ranger - most of the time he walks alone slightly away from his friends. He might be feeling that he wants to become more independent and likes to walk on his own, like the dominant bull of the herd. He feels more like a mature male and doesn’t want to be herded or controlled by the females anymore! Kibwezi forest is becoming a home to all wildlife after the rain and good vegetation shooting up everywhere, looking lush, full and good to eat to the orphans. Quanza could not even be seen in the thick bush whilst she was browsing; only her head was visible from far when she raised her big ears up trying to scare away some baboons passing in front of her. When the babies started to arrive at the waterhole, Ziwa was being escorted by his two mothers Sonje and Murera who place him in the middle between them. They were giving him good security, so we was not sought after by the unpredictable Zongoloni who sometimes behaves well and other times changes her mood at a moment’s notice. During these bouts of bad moods she is unfriendly towards the other babies especially Ziwa and Ngasha who she will push around; other times she is friendly to everyone! There was water everywhere all over the forest today following the heavy rain last night. The babies felt there was no need to go to their mud bath to wallow because there was water everywhere anyway! Instead they only splashed a little water on their feet and left to go to the dust bath.

29 April 2016

Sonje spent time waiting for Ziwa to finish his bottle feeding and join her, but Ziwa took his time drinking his bottle as it is his way not to drink as fast as the other babies, especially compared to the likes of Lima Lima or Zongoloni! The keepers were on the other side of the bushes calling the orphans to follow them behind. They wanted to lead the babies out to another foraging place with lots of vegetation. As the keepers were leading the babies to this place to the side of the Chyulu Hills, they group encountered a big python lying across the path, which Lima Lima walked right by and did not even notice! The python was in a very deep sleep and the keepers started looking for Murera who was behind so she would not step on it. When Sonje and Quanza came up the path and reached where the snake was lying, Sonje safely detected it together with Quanza ; the keepers who were behind went the other way avoiding the path in order not to disturb the sleeping python. Murera also detected the snake herself and went around without any trouble at all.

30 April 2016

Jasiri was very busy on his different side of the bushes, looking some soft greens and tasty lilies that begin to emerge after the rains. Behind Faraja was Murera with Ziwa and Quanza also trying hard to reach the freshest greens. Lima Lima thought it was wise for her to go nearer the signposts on the road where there was also some nice thick vegetation, and she was followed by Jasiri. At midday Faraja was very happy after finding some very soft dust for his dust bath. When he had his fun with that soil and came across more that was more compact and hard to break, then he moved onto other places looking for his friends, Ngasha and Zongoloni. He came across Lima Lima who was also rubbing her belly on the ground and enjoying a good scratching session. At one point the keepers found her with her tail in the air really making the keepers laugh at her funny poses. The keepers started to call the babies to follow them to begin their walk home, but Quanza was still dust bathing and rolling her bottom like how Faraja was doing. The rain started to fall however and the babies ran away to hide their heads and big ears under the umbrellas that their keepers were holding for shelter.