The Keepers continue to keep a keen eye on Alamaya, no wanting to hinder his progress but also not wanting him to rush as reintegration is a gradual process. They want Alamaya to ease into his life in the wild as the others have, and he still has a lot to learn. The mere flight of a herd of bushbucks breaking forest cover one day was enough to send him running back to his friends and Keepers, but he is doing very well and has been enjoying his many interactions with wild elephants in the forest this month. As usual, the dry season has drawn elephants from far and wide to the perennial water source they know can be found in the safe habitat of the Kibwezi Forest, before wandering on over to the Chyulu Hills in search of more food. The visits by wild elephants are a blessing, providing the Umani orphans a wonderful opportunity to interact with wild elephants and forge new friendships, which prove very helpful as our orphans decide to break away from the dependent herd. Alamaya returned to the Umani herd several times this month with wild friends in tow, from large wild elephant bulls, to families with little calves, and the Keepers were very proud of him.
Enkesha is still a very capable little girl, always surprising the Keepers at how well she is adapting to life in Kibwezi. She is happy to wander off on her own and is very capable of finding her own browse, sometimes doing so on purpose so she can reap the rewards of her hard work, pulling down an acacia branch for example, all to herself, without having to share. Zongoloni is still very much enamoured with this little one, and will often spend time with the dependent herd just to be in her company. She and Alamaya spend the most time with the Umani dependent orphans out of the night-clubbers, but towards the end of the month they started to visit less and less, perhaps excited to show Alamaya the rest of the forest. With her friend spending more time away, Enkesha sought comfort and company in Quanza, who was eager to help look after the little girl as well.
We’ve been very proud of how far Shukuru has come in the past few months and right now she is looking the healthiest she has been in the last four years. Chronic illness has plagued this little girl for many years, but recent treatments really seem to have done the trick and we can see she is putting on weight and that her condition has greatly improved, as well as her appetite. The arrival of Enkesha and Luggard seemed to give her a new lease of life, and she has so much more energy to mud bath and play now. She still walks ahead of the rest of the group most of the time, as she still likes to avoid the more boisterous bulls, but she has a new vigour which is wonderful to see.
It seems as though there is an agreement between Murera and Lima Lima, that both of them share the responsibility of looking after Luggard, especially if one of them needs to do something else. The Keepers also feel this might be a strategic move to keep Luggard at a safe distance from Alamaya, who has been feeling a little jealous of the attention the young boy has been receiving from the older girls. If Murera wants to browse or mud bath, we will always see Lima Lima wander over to take care of him, before Murera even thinks about moving away. This sometimes means Lima Lima isn’t her normal observant-self. One morning Zongoloni and her night-club members, after spending the night out in the forest, arrived with a few wild elephant bulls. Mwashoti was quick to realize this, and trumpeted loudly to alert the Keepers of the newcomers. Lima Lima, who usually takes on this role, was a little distracted with Luggard, but Mwashoti took on this new responsibility very well. In fact, the Keepers have noticed that in general, Mwashoti is a very caring and attentive member of the Umani herd of late. Like Alamaya, at six years old he is growing into a fine young bull. One day Jasiri challenged Mwashoti to a strength-testing game thinking Mwashoti was still a little boy, but was unprepared and surprised to find out otherwise when Mwashoti pushed back with some strength. Mwashoti has shot up in size and strength proving he was now an equal match for Jasiri!
While Lima Lima and Murera concentrate very much on looking after little Luggard, Sonje seems to lead the herd for their daily foraging throughout the forest, and the rest of the herd are happy to oblige. She was a little concerned one day when Quanza together with Mwashoti came across a wild herd of elephants and got left behind in their midst, as the orphans made their way home for the night. After the Keepers were unable to round them up she was greatly relieved to see them standing outside the stockade compound the following morning and ran to greet them – the two seemed perfectly fine and totally unfazed by their little night soiree, with Mwashoti in the able company of sensible Quanza, so there was little to worry about.