The two smallest and most recent graduates to Umani, Mwashoti and Alamaya, are growing day by day, especially with all the succulent vegetation around, and are becoming more confident in their abilities and strength. Alamaya can already pick up his own bottle and feed himself and both boys engage their older friends more and more in pushing and wrestling games. Alamaya often plays with Zongoloni as she is fair with the youngster and knows not to push him too much, but the Keepers were surprised when Alamaya managed to push Ngasha as well. He is picking up on some of Ziwa’s naughty habits and the Keepers were worried that Ngasha would retaliate and push Alamaya back but thankfully that didn’t happen. Sonje often rumbles encouragement to the youngsters and makes sure to stay close by so as to offer support, should any of the others become too rough with them.
Ziwa is becoming slightly naughty and defiant of the keepers, wanting to go his own way and do his own thing, but luckily he still listens to the matriarchs Murera and Sonje. He can get a bit pushy with the younger boys as well but is usually reprimanded for his bad behaviour by Zongoloni, Quanza or one of the older females. All the of the orphans have been enjoying the acacia seed pods which grow from the trees during this season and drop to the ground to be enjoyed by all kinds of wildlife. Ziwa again refused to go back into his bedroom one day because he was enjoying this delicious snack too much, and was almost locked out of the compound until the keepers tricked him inside with a handful of seed pods. Murera and Sonje provide a helpful role to the young boys who cannot reach the branches with these tasty treat and pull down branches for them to enjoy as well; baboons and other wild elephants capable of pulling entire branches or even small trees also help the orphans reach this tasty treat.
There were quite a few restless nights for the Keepers and the orphans this month for various reasons. One night Lima Lima was apparently having a nightmare and was yelling so loudly in her sleep it woke the keepers. Another night we received some heavy rain and the loud noise it made on their roof unsettled Mwashoti and Alamaya who set off a chain reaction as their yelling upset Murera and Sonje and then Lima Lima and Quanza who began pushing on their gates to see what was wrong! Ziwa, Faraja and Ngasha then began pushing on their gates and the Keepers had to come out and settle every one down in the rain.
There were lots of wild elephants around this month who occasionally interacted with the orphans. Sometimes they would visit the stockade compound during the night and drink all the water in the trough, so the Keepers would have to fill it up for the orphans in the morning. The orphans are still very much learning elephant etiquette and how to behave around the older wild elephant, especially the big bulls. One day Ngasha touched a big bull’s tail, which is obviously not very polite, and he had to run away. Another day, Ziwa pulled a wild calf’s tail and had to quickly run away from its angry mother. Sometimes, the orphans get it right though and Ngasha later quietly approached the mother and calf who she allowed him to browse with them and touch her calf as well. Sometimes, however, the wild bulls are so huge the orphans are not even sure how to approach them and keep a wide berth, not wanting to share the mud bath for fear of being knocked over! Faraja and Ngasha managed to browse with two wild bulls for some hours another day though, right up until their noon milk feed.