Keepers' Diaries, August 2014

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

It has been lovely to see the Umani herd really settle into their new home, and in just the two months they have been in the Kibwezi Forest and part of our new Umani Springs Rehabilitation Unit they seem to have mapped the place out. The Keepers too are learning the ropes and have settled in now and love their new home. Umani Springs has become a very sought after posting! The orphans here are doing extremely well and are looking healthy and plump despite the dry season. There is a great variety of vegetation for them, but Acacia pods are the most sought after delicacy in the dry season it seems, and the Keepers happily oblige when the demand outstrips the supply by climbing the Acacia trees close to the stockades to help dislodge more pods for the babies. Murera has asserted herself as the one in charge, the matriarch of the unit, but does not necessarily take the physical lead because of her compromised leg. She is more than happy to share this role with the others, but Lima Lima’s exuberance makes her most prone to leading the way. When it comes down to serious decision making however, that falls on the two older girls, Sonje and Murera, and the younger three, Quanza, Lima Lima and Zongoloni happily obey. Quanza is extremely happy in her new environment; she is wonderfully gentle but does remain a little more aloof than the others preferring to keep her distance from humans. She remembers her family being poached and butchered before her eyes and as a result is understandably not wholly trusting of humans.

It has been lovely to see the Umani herd really settle into their new home, and in just the two months they have been in the Kibwezi Forest and part of our new Umani Springs Rehabilitation Unit they seem to have mapped the place out. The Keepers too are learning the ropes and have settled in now and love their new home. Umani Springs has become a very sought after posting! The orphans here are doing extremely well and are looking healthy and plump despite the dry season. There is a great variety of vegetation for them, but Acacia pods are the most sought after delicacy in the dry season it seems, and the Keepers happily oblige when the demand outstrips the supply by climbing the Acacia trees close to the stockades to help dislodge more pods for the babies.

Murera has asserted herself as the one in charge, the matriarch of the unit, but does not necessarily take the physical lead because of her compromised leg. She is more than happy to share this role with the others, but Lima Lima’s exuberance makes her most prone to leading the way. When it comes down to serious decision making however, that falls on the two older girls, Sonje and Murera, and the younger three, Quanza, Lima Lima and Zongoloni happily obey.

Quanza is extremely happy in her new environment; she is wonderfully gentle but does remain a little more aloof than the others preferring to keep her distance from humans. She remembers her family being poached and butchered before her eyes and as a result is understandably not wholly trusting of humans.

Zongoloni, Lima Lima and Quanza sleep close together in their night stockades, with Sonje and Murera neighbors on the other side. The whole unit remains a tight and close knit group of friends who have attracted the attentions of the wild elephants already. Sometimes these attentions are more than our orphans can cope with and they retreat back to the comfort of their Keepers, but at other times they actually go in search of the wild herds by following their scent.

Night time visits from the wild elephants have become ever more frequent this month, with some day light encounters even beginning to happen now. These all important wild friendships will form in time, especially as the wild herds are already showing such an interest in the orphans. The Umani herd this month has had encounters with raucous baboons, bushbuck, a herd of buffalos, wild elephants and sunbathing crocodiles so there is never a dull moment.

August 2014 day to day

01 Aug

The elephants at Umani are doing well and are all settled and browse together exploring the forest daily. Lima Lima today was distancing herself from the rest and walked towards where the keepers were seated, the keepers realized something was bothering her, so they tried to examine what was annoying her, after a few minutes the keepers established a couple of tsetse flies stinging her back, after quickly removing them she seemed very relieved as she walked back to the other orphans. Later during the day Murera disappeared into the deep thicket of bush, after a number of hours the keepers were forced to search for her. Eventually she was spotted browsing a number of kilometers away, but in her own time she slowly walked back to the stockade for the evening, it seems Murera is quickly becoming much more independent and comfortable with her surroundings.

Lima Lima and the keepers

Lima Lima trying to steal acacia pods

Murera exploring the forest

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