Keepers' Diaries, August 2019

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Ngasha and Ziwa have been testing their independence, and are becoming increasingly confident and spending longer periods outside of the stockade compound overnight. We were very surprised however when Lima Lima started to join them, being so close to the Keepers and so very protective of them, she normally doesn’t stray too far. Lima Lima’s caring tendencies however led us to believe that she wanted to keep an eye on the bulls as well, and make sure they were okay out in the forest. 

Lima Lima rarely decides to spend the whole night outside of the stockades. The first time she didn’t come back with Murera, Sonje and the others, Ngasha was the first to return and he walked straight up to the Keepers quarters as if to wake them up so that they could let him back in. The Keepers woke up and made him a bottle of milk before letting him back into his stockade. At around midnight, loud trumpets were heard from inside the forest and the Keepers knew it was Lima Lima and Ziwa walking back with their wild friends. They tried calling Lima Lima and she joyfully came charging back with Ziwa to receive their evening bottles and head into the stockades for the night. Every other time Lima Lima decided to stay out late, she was always escorted back at some point during the night by the wild herds.

For the most part their interactions with the wild elephant herds this month were very amicable. Whilst Murera remains uninterested in the wild bulls, one showed Sonje some attention and she happily reciprocated. She appeared to like this bull so much she spent the entire day with him and even missed her midday bottle of milk, only returning to her Umani friends in the evening when it was time for them to head back to the stockade compound. The orphans’ absolute favourite meetings are when the wild herds have some very young calves with them, which Lima Lima and Zongoloni adore. Lima Lima can get carried away however and try to keep the calves to herself, walking them away from their mothers. On one occasion one female noticed this and began rumbling and charging at the orphans, chasing them all away.

Faraja and Jasiri are less confident about spending time outside of the compound at night having been scared by the process when experimenting earlier on.  It is very common for young bulls to start being more independent as they grow older, and it is around this age that they are encouraged in the wild to venture further afield from their matriarchal herd. Faraja has been very pushy towards Sonje recently, typical of this age, and the two are not always getting on at the moment.

Sonje and Murera are still very close to Shukuru who is still such a quiet and gentle girl. She hates confrontation and will always do her best to avoid it. In the morning she just watches the young boys Faraja and Ziwa pushing at their stable doors desperate to get out to the Lucerne pellets. She just waits patiently as the boisterous boys make their way out first, running and pushing each other, and once they had moved off, she slowly makes her way out. If any of the bulls approach her for a pushing game, she always politely declines and walks off in the other direction.

Despite some of the older bulls pushing for their independence, Murera and Sonje are still very much the matriarchs of the herd and are ready to dole out any necessary discipline, or comforting, required by the other babies. They always protect Mwashoti from the older boys while he finishes his milk bottles and prevent any of the others from approaching him to try and steal his milk. It is not just Murera and Sonje who protect the little boys however. Lima Lima moved Faraja away from Alamaya when she found him trying to touch Alamaya’s stump of a tail which he absolutely loathes, and even when the two boys are fighting with each other, the other girls like Zongoloni and Quanza are quick to step in and help protect Mwashoti who is just much quieter than Alamaya. Zongoloni and Quanza are very much part of the Murera and Sonje female group who love the boys but are intolerant of their rough housing behaviour and are there to keep order. Despite being a dry month the forest is a lovely cool and gentle refuge for many animals as the dry season bites.  

August 2019 day to day

01 Aug

Lima Lima has recently been leading the boys far out into the forest, and always making sure that all the boys return with her in the evening to have their evening bottles and rest. This evening however, Lima Lima and some of the boys did not come back to the Stockades. Murera and Sonje led the other orphans back with the Keepers and then the Keepers spent some time waiting for Lima Lima and the boys, but they did not show up.

Later that evening, only Ngasha turned up, and he walked straight up to the Keepers quarters as if to wake them up so that they could let him back in. The Keepers woke up and made him a bottle of milk before letting him back into his stockade. At around midnight, loud trumpets could be heard from inside the forest, along the Chyulu Hills. The Keepers knew it was Lima Lima and Ziwa walking back with their wild friends, and as soon as they heard the trumpeting, they called Lima Lima, and she joyfully came charging back with Ziwa to receive their evening bottles and head into the stockades. 

Lima Lima picking up a branch

Murera on the forest path

Ngasha walking through the waterhole

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