Keepers' Diaries, August 2019

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. 

01 August 2019

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. 

02 August 2019

All the orphans had a good night’s rest and they were all eagerly waiting to make their way out to the forest in the morning. They first received their morning bottles and then were let out to have their morning Lucerne pellets. Once they were all finished eating, Lima Lima stayed back to see if Shukuru had any leftover pellets. Unfortunately for her, there was a Keeper standing near Shukuru making sure that nobody would steal her pellets, especially naughty Lima Lima. Lima Lima, realising she couldn’t have any of her pellets, ran back to the rest of the orphans and then they all made their way out to the forest once Shukuru joined them. 

03 August 2019

Murera and Shukuru are good friends and are often seen together in the forest. Today, Murera did not want to walk far, and instead wanted to stay close to her good friends Shukuru and Mwashoti. She is also dearly cared for by Sonje, but if Sonje is busy leading the other orphans she is happy to stay near the other older females. 

As the orphans were making their way to the Umani water springs, they came across some crocodiles. As they spotted the crocodiles, the orphans stopped dead in their tracks to see what the large objects were. As soon as they realised it was crocodiles, they all began to run and trumpet loudly towards them, hoping to scare them off. Sure enough, the crocodiles went straight into the water hiding their heads beneath the surface, out of sight from the elephants. 

04 August 2019

The orphans as usual were all eager to have their morning bottles of milk, Lima Lima and Zongoloni were rumbling and pushing at their stockade walls as if to hurry the Keepers. The Keepers were busy mixing the milk, which made the orphans even more enthusiastic as they could hear the sound of the milk being mixed in the buckets. Once the orphans finished their bottles, they were let out to enjoy their morning Lucerne pellets. Zongoloni, Lima Lima, and Alamaya seemed to be eager to head off into the forest, as they each grabbed a ball of pellets and then started walking towards the forest. The Keepers quickly stopped them, ensuring that they waited for the rest of the Umani herd. 

05 August 2019

Ziwa and his friend Faraja decided to go further up the hills today, away from the Keepers and the other orphans. Murera seemed to be concerned that they were heading off and was heard rumbling and trumpeting at the boys but that did not stop them. After some time, loud trumpeting could be heard further afield, the Keepers did not realise at first but it was the boys being pushed back by a herd of wild elephants as Ziwa had nudged one of the younger elephants. Faraja and Ngasha both followed Ziwa as he was pushed away from the wild herd. 

At the waterhole, during their mud bath, the orphans were all having a great time, playfully throwing dust over their heads. They were all having such fun, until Mwashoti got scared by some crane birds that suddenly flew over him as he was enjoying a long scratch on a nearby post. He got such a fright that he went running over to Murera and Sonje for help and protection. 

06 August 2019

Whilst the orphans were enjoying their mud bath, they were joined by a herd of buffalo and antelopes that were all making their way down to the water. There were also some terrapins heading towards the water, and one of them accidentally touched Jasiri’s foot. This gave him such a fright that he quickly ran back towards the water. 

Whilst the orphans were in the field, they heard many wild elephants rumbling and trumpeting. This seemed to make Lima Lima uneasy as she walked back towards the orphan herd and Keepers as if to warn them of the noises she could hear. All the while, she kept a close eye on the forest to make sure nothing was coming towards them. 

07 August 2019

Whilst in the field, Alamaya seemed to be annoying Mwashoti so Sonje, Zongoloni, and Quanza quickly came over to see what was happening and protect Mwashoti. Mwashoti quickly moved away towards Jasiri who was busy browsing. 

Whilst the orphans were browsing, there was a troop of baboons in the trees above them eating and dropping some green pods from the trees. The bushbucks were cleverly beneath the baboons eating the pods. Zongoloni appeared curious as she tried one of the pods, and it seemed as though she really enjoyed them as she began to rumble in excitement. She was soon joined by Murera and the two enjoyed the pods together. 

Rain could be heard along the Chyulu hills and there was also loud thunder. Murera, who doesn’t seem to like thunderstorms, could be seen hiding in the bushes before quickly running over to her Keepers. 

08 August 2019

Sonje appeared to really enjoy Faraja’s company today as she wanted to stay by his side throughout the morning. The past couple of weeks, Sonje and Faraja did not always get along as Faraja kept pushing Sonje. The Keepers thought that he may have gathered this confidence when he began spending time with wild herds. It is very common for young bulls to start being more confident towards the matriarchs as they grow older. 

Shukuru seemed worried that Faraja would start pushing Sonje again and kept a close eye on the two and made sure the young bull behaved himself.

09 August 2019

The night before, as the orphans were making their way back to the stockades, Lima Lima, Ngasha, Ziwa, and Jasiri did not come back. Ngasha came back to the stockades around seven o’clock, he appeared lost as he happened to come across one of his Keepers that was walking to the stores. As the Keeper was busy, he heard an elephant rumbling outside and when he opened the door, he saw Ngasha waiting to be taken to his stockade. No other orphans showed up until about midnight, when the Keepers could hear loud trumpeting and rumbling coming from the forests. The Keepers stepped out to have a look, and they saw Lima Lima being escorted back by her wild friends. As the Keepers let her in to the stockade all the orphans began to rumble in celebration. 

The next morning, Lima Lima looked very tired and sad; the Keepers thought that she may be missing the boys, Ziwa and Jasiri. However, she seemed to perk up once she had her morning bottle and the orphans made their way back into the field.

10 August 2019

The orphans were visited by a herd of wild elephants through the night. The wild herd did not stop but they walked very close to the stockade fence line, and one of the calves was playing around. As Lima Lima and Quanza heard the calf playing around they came closer to the fence line to have a look at the calf and they seemed curious about where the herd was heading. The herd just continued to make their way to the water springs. 

As the orphans made their way out into the field, Murera led them to the hills where they could browse on some of the trees. Ziwa, who had returned to the orphan herd the day before, was happily browsing on some of the branches and refused to come down to the waterhole for a mud bath. It is great to see bulls such as Ziwa behaving more independently as these are all important steps for them to be reintegrated back into the wild. 

11 August 2019

Whilst the orphans were making their way out into the field this morning, Zongoloni and Ziwa kept fighting over a branch that Zongoloni had picked up on the side of the road. Neither of them wanted to let it go, and Zongoloni kept it tightly held in her trunk. Ziwa seemed hopeful that she would eventually put it down but every time she was about to put it down, she would notice him approaching and then pick it up again. Eventually Ziwa appeared to give up and moved off.  

At the waterhole, once the orphans had finished their midday bottles of milk and mud bath, some of them went over and started to have a mud bath. Shukuru stayed away from the big boys as she was worried about being pushed around whilst they played. She quite happily stood by her Keepers who were all watching the orphans playing on the dust hills. After their dust bath, Ngasha came over and put his trunk over Shukuru’s head to try and play with her, but she quickly ran off.

Lima Lima heard some elephants rumbling, so she went around to see what was happening and found Faraja trying to annoy Alamaya as he kept touching his short tail. Lima Lima quickly moved Faraja away, leaving Alamaya in peace. 

12 August 2019

Lima Lima was awake through the first half of the night as she kept smelling new animals around the stockade, out in the forest. She didn’t appear to recognise the smell which is why she was so awake. What she could smell the Keepers had spotted was two leopards in the trees; they appeared to be watching the buffalos that were feeding on some of the Lucerne pellets outside the stockade. Lima Lima began to warn the other orphans and she was quickly joined by Zongoloni who began to rumble and push at the wooden walls in attempt to try and scare off the leopards. The leopards seemed to get tired of all the noise and eventually jumped down and walked away from the stockade compound. Once they moved off, the girls seemed to calm down and went to bed.

13 August 2019

When the orphans made their way out into the forest, some of the boys such as Ngasha, Ziwa and Faraja decided to head off in their own direction not follow the matriarchs of the herd. Ziwa especially appeared adamant to not follow Sonje and Murera and moved off to the hills closely followed by Ngasha and Faraja. 

Ngasha and Ziwa appear to be the best of friends and always appear happy to follow one another and keep each other company. Neither of the boys made their way down to the waterhole but chose to stay at the top of the hills enjoying their greens. Murera and the rest of the herd, on the other hand, enjoyed their bottles of milk and a long mud wallow before making their way back out into the field. 

14 August 2019

The orphans were not very playful this morning as they all enjoyed their morning Lucerne pellets quietly. Shukuru had her pellets separately from the others, as normal, but none of the other orphans tried to steal from her. Ngasha and Ziwa began to make their way out into the field while Mwashoti and Murera were busy picking some of the leftover pellets. The baboons could be seen waiting for the orphans to leave so that they too could enjoy the pellets. 

When it was time for the orphans’ midday bottles of milk and mud bath, the older boys were the first to show up today as the girls slowly followed with Alamaya and Mwashoti. Sonje and Murera are always sure to protect Mwashoti from the older boys while he finishes his bottle milk. Murera even stopped the boys from getting close to Mwashoti, making the entire herd wait for him to finish first.  

15 August 2019

It was a very cold and cloudy day today, which created some difficulty for Sonje and Murera as their legs seem to be quite stiff in the colder weather. In the morning, they took their time as they walked out their stables as the ground was wet and slippery in some areas. Mwashoti, on the other hand, walked a little bit too quickly and slipped in some mud. As he slipped, he trumpeted loudly as if to ask for help from his Keepers, and this caused quite a scene as Lima Lima came running over to see what had happened and she realised everything was okay she quickly returned to her morning pellets. Sonje and Murera also seemed concerned as they came over to make sure the young bull was okay and escorted him away from the muddy spots. 

As the orphans were walking and browsing on acacia branches along the Chyulu hills, they came across some buffalo that had walked across their path. One of the buffaloes curiously began to approach Mwashoti and Lima Lima. Zongoloni who appeared to see the buffalos approaching Lima Lima and Mwashoti started to trumpet very loudly and mock charge the buffalos, the Keepers too began to shout at the buffalo. Eventually the buffalo decided to move off in a different direction. 

16 August 2019

This morning, Shukuru was happy to share her pellets with Mwashoti. As Shukuru was let out to her corner, Mwashoti quickly ran up behind her and waited as if to see whether she would let him share her Lucerne. The two finished every pellet before following Ngasha out the Chyulu Hills. 

Murera and Sonje went a different route out into the forest, not far from Ngasha’s route, and they came across some wild bulls. One of the bulls seemed to be following Sonje, and she happily turned to greet him. Murera, however, was uninterested in the bulls and just kept to herself. Sonje appeared to like this bull as she spent the entire day with him and even missed her midday bottle of milk. She only returned to the orphans in the evening when it was time for them to head back to the stockade compound. 

17 August 2019

All the orphans walked out of their stockades this morning after having their morning bottles of milk. This morning, Mwashoti and Shukuru did not want any pellets but rather wanted to enjoy some of the acacia pods that had dropped. They quickly ran around the stores and left most of the orphans enjoying the morning Lucerne pellets. 

Ziwa and Ngasha were also uninterested in having their morning pellets as they both immediately made their way out into the field. One of the Keepers followed them to bring them back, but Ziwa kept speeding up and really didn’t want to return, so the Keeper just let them continue on their way.  

In the afternoon, Ziwa and his friends Ngasha and Faraja found themselves in a very awkward situation as they walked straight into a big herd of buffalo that were browsing amongst the bushes. The buffalo chased the young bulls away, and they all, especially Ngasha, began to trumpet loudly calling the Keepers for help. The Keepers quickly began to call them and whistle, the young bulls came running out the forest straight towards the Keepers.

18 August 2019

This morning Shukuru appeared to be watching the young boys Faraja and Ziwa pushing at their stable doors to get to the Lucerne pellets. She decided to wait patiently as the boisterous boys made their way out first, running and pushing each other. Once they had moved off, she slowly made her way out. 

When it was time for the orphans’ midday bottle of milk and mud bath, they all came running in for their bottles. Lima Lima and Zongoloni appeared to be racing, to see who could get their milk first. Lima Lima was once again the winner as she appears to be the fastest and greediest. Rarely do any of the other orphans manage to beat her and they often steer clear of her as she might try to steal their milk. The Keepers often have their hands full keeping her away from the other orphans’ bottles. 

19 August 2019

This evening, once again, Faraja, Ziwa and Ngasha did not come back to the stockade compound and instead remained out in the field. Whilst in the field the three boys were quite naughty as the appeared to trick Lima Lima to follow them and leave Alamaya behind. The Keepers were not pleased with them as Lima Lima plays an important role for Alamaya and the rest of the orphan herd. 

Once again, the Keepers heard Lima Lima rumbling and trumpeting late in the evening as she eventually made her way back to the stockades. One of the Keepers got up and opened the stockade gate and she came running in, demanding her evening bottle. Unfortunately, her bottle had been drunk by one of the other orphans and she had to wait until morning. The Keepers were surprised to see Lima Lima following the bulls, but this is all part of the orphans’ journey of being reintegrated back into the wild and experiencing evenings on their own and figuring out whether or not they are ready. 

20 August 2019

In the field today Ziwa, who had since returned, and Zongoloni were both trying to push little Alamaya. This appeared to make Sonje very upset, as she quickly ran towards them rumbling and trumpeting and pushed them both out of the way. She really seemed to discipline Ziwa as she kept pushing him away, making sure he stayed far away from Alamaya. Shukuru and Murera were both calmly watching all the commotion from a distance. 

As Lima Lima and Quanza were browsing on some bushes, some bushbucks suddenly appeared and gave them both such a fright that they both quickly ran away, unsure of what they had seen. As it was nearing the time to head back to the stockades, Shukuru began to line up with the orphans. When it was time for them to head back, she and Mwashoti happily led the orphan herd, with the Keepers closely following behind. 

21 August 2019

In the morning, Ziwa seemed to be accompanying Shukuru out to her corner where she would normally enjoy her morning Lucerne pellets. As they came around the corner however, they found naughty Faraja stealing some of Shukuru’s pellets. Ziwa quickly chased Faraja away, giving Shukuru the time to enjoy her share of pellets. The Keepers also came over, making sure that Faraja or any of the other orphans didn’t come back to steal her pellets. Murera slowly came over to Shukuru, and the two appeared to be talking as they were calmly rumbling at one another. Once Shukuru was finished, the orphans made their way out to the Umani Hills, led by Lima Lima. 

In the afternoon, as the orphans were browsing along the Chyulu Hills, a big herd of wild elephants came over to greet the orphans. The wild herd had some very young calves with them, which seemed to please Lima Lima and Zongoloni as they quickly went over to greet them. As usual, however, when Lima Lima sees a young calf, she appears to want to keep him or her to herself and she tries to walk them away from their mothers. One of the cows appeared to notice Lima Lima walking away with one of the calves and she began to rumble and charge at the orphans chasing them all away and making sure to get the calf away from Lima Lima. The orphans and Keepers had to quickly run away from the herd, leaving them in peace. 

22 August 2019

Jasiri and Quanza had a mind of their own today as they seemed to refuse to listen to Sonje, whom was trying to organise the orphan herd and have them all walk together. Murera also tried to get them to follow Sonje but they were having none of it and eventually they went off in their own direction. Mwashoti and Shukuru appeared to be quite happy following Sonje and were not bothered by Jasiri and Quanza.

As the orphans were later walking through the Kibwezi forest, Lima Lima and Quanza came across some rock hyraxes. The hyraxes scared the two girls as one jumped out and touched Quanza’s foot. As she felt something move past her foot, she darted off towards the bushes trumpeting loudly. In the meantime, Jasiri had stepped in a line of safari ants that started to bite him on his leg he too ran off trumpeting and rumbling. The Keepers had to catch up with him, making sure to get the ants off his leg. 

23 August 2019

During the midday bottle feeding time, none of the orphans seemed interested in having their milk or wallowing in the mud bath. The Keepers thought it was because the weather was not very nice. Mwashoti and Shukuru, walked past the waterhole but neither of them were brave enough to even put their trunks in the water. The orphans browsed for a little bit around the waterhole before walking over to the dust mound and enjoying a long dust bath. 

After the Keepers finished their lunch under some of the nearby trees, a troop of baboons came down to the waterhole and began to look all over the place for any leftover food. When Lima Lima saw the baboons approaching the Keepers she, Ngasha, and Quanza quickly came charging over making sure baboons left the Keepers alone. They chased them all the way back into the forest. 

24 August 2019

The orphans all enjoyed a long mud bath this afternoon. Shukuru who was a little bit hesitant at joining the orphans in the water thoroughly enjoyed herself on the dust mound, throwing dust all over her body. She was soon joined by all the other orphans as they came out the water to dry and dust themselves off. Once they were all done, they made their way back to the forest to continue their afternoon browsing activities. 

Towards the end of the afternoon, the orphans were joined by a wild herd with some young calves. The Keepers kept their distance from the wild herd as they didn’t want to make the matriarch or mothers uncomfortable. Lima Lima and Zongoloni were very calm when they arrived and made sure that the other orphans stayed calm so as not to scare any of the young calves. Lima Lima also made sure that all the calves stayed far away from the Keepers to make sure that the mothers didn’t get angry towards them. The orphans interacted with the wild herd for a couple of minutes before making their way back to their Keepers to head back to the stockade compound. 

25 August 2019

There were lots of animals on the Umani Hills today. As the Keepers and the orphans made their way up the hills they came across bushbucks, baboons and a herd of buffalo all grazing and foraging. As the orphans arrived, the buffalo seemed weary of the Keepers and started to raise their heads and smell. Ziwa was the first to try and chase the buffalo away but as his efforts didn’t seem to work, he was then joined by Lima Lima and Ngasha to move them away from the Keepers. After the buffalos left, Murera, Sonje and Mwashoti went over to Shukuru and appeared to check on her before they carried on browsing.

When it was time for the orphans to head back to the stockades, they all seemed happy and appeared to all have very full tummies. They all walked back slowly and calmly and none of them were in any rush to get to the milk bottles first. 

26 August 2019

This morning, Sonje and Faraja were having a strength testing match. Faraja, however, seemed to be quite aggressive and adamant to show his strength but this made Sonje even more eager to show her strength. The Keepers were worried that the two might hurt each other, and even Murera tried to intervene and separate them but to no avail. Eventually Sonje gave in and decided to move away from him bringing an end to their match.  

Faraja seemed to be showing off as he had won the match and as the orphans made their way out to have their morning pellets, he made sure to stay right by Sonje. This appeared to annoy Sonje as she quickly moved away. Murera who seemed to notice Faraja showing off, approached him whilst he was eating some pellets and gave him a low rumble which caused him to quickly move away. Faraja appears to be more cautious of Murera as she is often telling him off for pushing Mwashoti. 

27 August 2019

It was a very cloudy morning, and the orphans were not very playful when they were let out their stables. Shukuru, followed by Ziwa, led them all out into the field and even then, all the orphans just focused on walking out into the field and none of them were playing. 

When it was time for the orphans midday bottles and mud bath, they all came running in to have their bottles of milk. As it was still cold and overcast, they were very hesitant to have a mud bath, Murera, Mwashoti, and Alamaya all went over to test the temperature of the water. Mwashoti appeared to find it very cold as he quickly walked away to the dust mound to have a dust bath. Shukuru and Lima Lima, however, weren’t interested in even going close to the water as they headed straight to the water trough to drink some clean water. 

In the evening, when it was time for the orphans to make their way back to the stockade compound Shukuru took the lead once again and was closely followed by Quanza, Lima Lima and Alamaya. As they were nearing the stockade compound, Alamaya took over the lead followed by Shukuru; he seemed eager to get back for his evening bottle of milk.  

28 August 2019

It was a very sunny and bright morning when the orphans were let out. Ziwa decided to take his own path through the bushes and not follow Murera and Sonje and the other orphans along the road. He was later heard rumbling and trumpeting from the bushes as if he was looking for his friends. Before the Keepers could even start to look for him, he was already back on the road coming to join his friends. Faraja and Ngasha walked back to greet him, and then Ngasha and Ziwa started a strength testing match, both playfully rumbling at each other. He was also happily greeted by Shukuru and Sonje who came running over trumpeting and rumbling as if to welcome him back. 

29 August 2019

This morning, Shukuru was very busy looking for the Lucerne pellets in the store. As the Keepers were busy letting all the orphans out, she was busy walking around the store seeing if there was a way she could get to the pellets. As she couldn’t find any, she patiently went to wait in her corner. 

Naughty Lima Lima and Quanza pushed the gate open and immediately ran over to Shukuru’s corner to try and steal some of her pellets. This seemed to upset Shukuru as she walked away from them. The Keepers then came over and moved the two girls away so that Shukuru could finish her pellets in peace. 

30 August 2019

When it was time for the orphans midday bottle of milk, Alamaya and Mwashoti came charging in first and they each picked up their bottles on their own, something they both appeared to learn from Zongoloni whom used to often pick her bottle up all by herself. The Keepers had laid out the bottles nicely for the orphans so it was easy for them to grab. 

Lima Lima came running in last after Murera and Sonje, as the Keepers didn’t want her to disturb any of the other orphans whilst they were drinking. This is because Lima Lima often tries to grab all the bottles to get as much milk as she can.   

Some wild elephants could be heard trumpeting in the bushes nearby the waterhole. This surprised the Keepers and orphans as they sounded very close, and the Keepers weren’t sure if they were coming towards the waterhole. Lima Lima disappeared into the bushes, seemingly to check who the wild elephants were, and when she noticed that it was one of the wild herds that usually visit the orphans she came back to the waterhole. The wild herd stuck around for some time before moving off in the direction of the Umani water springs.

31 August 2019

Murera and Sonje seemed to be in a bossy mood this morning as they kept getting annoyed with any orphan that didn’t follow them out into the field. When Ziwa and his friends tried to head off in their own direction Sonje and Murera both rumbled loudly at the boys as if to tell them to come back. When the boys didn’t listen, Murera ran over and began to push Ziwa back towards the herd. Eventually the boys listened, but it took some disciplining from the two matriarchal girls. Shukuru decided to stay away from all the commotion and stayed close to the Keepers instead.