Keepers' Diaries, April 2019

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

We were so delighted when the rains began to fall around the middle of the month in the Kibwezi Forest, bringing much needed relief to the whole area. After just one rain shower the vegetation already started to recover, and all the animals were seen to enjoy the fresh green shoots that were springing up everywhere. Before that, the orphans were having to walk further and further to find enough forage to fill them up before returning to their stockades in the evening. 

The rain had other repercussions as well. Poor Sonje, Murera and Mwashoti had to take things a bit slower, as they are afraid of slipping on the muddy paths. With their bad legs, it is always more difficult for them to get up should they fall. The rain also brought the nasty Safari ants, or ‘Siafu’, out in their droves; they can take over a whole area in a matter of minutes, and have a nasty bite. When they arrived one night the Keepers had to leave their tents and let the orphans out of their night stockades as well, so that they could run off into the forest and relieve themselves of these biting insects. They returned in the morning looking well-fed and tired from their night’s adventure, looking forward to some rest! 

Not all the insects that come with the rain are bad however, and it was fun to watch Shukuru, Lima Lima and Zongoloni on different occasions running around trying to catch the butterflies fluttering about above their heads, always dancing just out of reach. Lima Lima wasn’t paying attention one day and was so exuberant with this game that she fell over, and that brought an end to that game for her. Zongoloni and Quanza seem to be especially close at the moment, and are seen to be always browsing with one another.

It is also funny to watch the little boys Alamaya and Mwashoti when the rain starts, as they often try to seek cover under Sonje and Murera. Mwashoti can just about fit under Murera’s ears, but Alamaya was too small for Sonje so he just had to stand and get wet like the others! Alamaya was afraid one evening when a light rainfall turned into quite a big thunderstorm. He started pushing on his roof and poked holes in the iron sheets with his tusks. This of course prompted Ziwa, Ngasha and Faraja to do the same, and they ended up causing a lot of damage which had to be rectified immediately the next day.

Alamaya has been testing his strength with the older boys in the herd recently. He likes to play with Ziwa, but the games do not last too long as Ziwa is stronger and often plays with Jasiri and Ngasha who are older. He has even been playing some games with Ngasha, but despite his new found strength, Alamaya still remains respectful of the older females such as Murera and Sonje. He is still as protective as ever of his short tail and doesn’t let any of the other boys anywhere near it.

As Ngasha, Faraja, and Ziwa are getting older, they seem to be enjoying more and more time out of the stockade compound, along with Jasiri sometimes too. They do not want to come back as early as the others to the stockades, and prefer to stay out browsing on their own. They always come back later in the evening however, and rumble to the Keepers let them in to join the others and enjoy some of the cut branches that have been laid out for them.  

The orphans enjoyed some nice interactions with some wild elephants this month. Whereas the youngsters and Shukuru might be more cautious, Lima Lima seems to always be the boldest in these meetings, and will charge right up to these wild elephants to greet them. Some wild bulls have taken an interest in her and Sonje as well. This is not always well-received by some of the bulls in the orphan herd, and when one bull followed Lima Lima back to the compound one afternoon, Ngasha and Jasiri decided to team up and chase the bull back to the bush.

One wild encounter did not end so well one day, when the wild herd managed to mix themselves up right among all the orphans. The Keepers were having trouble separating the orphans out and as the orphans started running to extract themselves from the wild herd, so did the Keepers. While running through the bushes a Keeper was hit in the face with a branch which made him shout out for help.  Lima Lima heard the Keeper and came running to see what had happened and found Amos being helped to his feet by his comrades, who then took him to get medical attention.

The orphans were more cautious of their interactions after that, and made sure to look after their Keepers whenever they found themselves caught too close to a herd. Murera and Lima Lima as usual, were especially diligent in this regard. Her loving nature always makes up for Lima Lima’s other pitfalls, and even when she is naughty at feeding times and tries to steal extra bottles of milk, the Keepers can never be too angry with her!

April 2019 day to day

01 Apr

The orphans seemed to be in a good mood this morning, as they cheerfully woke up to have their morning bottles of milk before heading out into the bush. Murera and Sonje walked straight up to Mwashoti and Alamaya rumbling at one another as if to say good morning. When it was time to head out into the bush, Mwashoti appeared to make sure that Murera and Sonje did not leave him behind with Ziwa. 

Whilst the orphans were browsing in the forest along the Umani Hills, they came across some buffalos grazing on the slopes of the hills. Shukuru, curious about the buffalos, stopped to have a look at them. She soon realised that it wasn’t safe to remain near this herd without the Keepers and fellow orphans and quickly re-joined the group.  

Murera and Mwashoti heading out to the forest in the morning

Zongoloni playing with Lima Lima

Ngasha and Shukuru enjoying their mud bath