Keepers' Diaries, August 2021

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

It has taken some time, but Murera is finally beginning to hear the call of the wild. She has begun spending nights away from the stockades, linking up with wild herds of female and calves. We all know how Murera dotes on little babies! While she has historically been standoffish towards wild bull suitors, she is now more receptive to their attentions. Towards the end of the month, a handsome bull asked Murera to join him on a walk in the forest. She accepted his invitation and did not return until much later in the evening. We are so proud of Murera for taking these steps towards independence. 

Each orphan adjusts to change at their own pace. For instance, when Enkesha and then Kiasa, Kiombo, and Maktao graduated to Umani Springs, Mwashoti was very inhospitable towards them, bitter because they displaced him as the baby of the herd. Now, he and Alamaya are trying to recruit them to join the nightclubbers! Sonje knows the boys’ tricks, so whenever she sees them moving off with the youngsters, she shepherds them back to the dependent herd. Mwashoti and Alamaya are just eager to show off how mature and independent they are. One day, they escorted Murera away from the herd and brought her over to a bounty of tasty acacia pods. It must have been thrilling for them to introduce their matriarch to a special new place! 

However, Mwashoti occasionally still picks on Kiombo. Kiombo may be significantly smaller, but he is savvy and knows that Sonje will always look out for him. Whenever he sees Mwashoti approaching, he makes a beeline for his protector. One day, Mwashoti was up to his old tricks, so Kiombo hustled over to who he thought was Sonje, but was actually Murera. He was initially confused by Murera’s lackluster response, until he realised his mistake and let out a trumpet to find Sonje. She immediately came to his side and comforted him with lots of rumbles and trunk hugs. Once he was reunited with his beloved Sonje, all was well for Kiombo.

Enkesha and Maktao’s special friendship continues to blossom. At night, we often see the older girl pushing her trunk through the wooden slats between their adjoining stockades. Sometimes, she even shares her greens with him, pushing them over from her side to his. Maktao clearly finds Enkesha’s presence very reassuring. 

Quanza may be quiet, but she is a good friend to everyone. When she sees one of the youngsters alone, she is quick to their side. She has a special friendship with Kiasa, and Enkesha has been shadowing her for leadership lessons. Quanza did have one dramatic incident this month: As she was laying down in the mud bath, she felt something crawling on her back. It was just a small terrapin, but she wasn’t to know that, so she whirled out of the water and sent the poor turtle flying! 

Murera continues to pay special attention to Kiasa. When she is on her wild forays, however, Zongoloni takes the little girl under her wing. Although she is the leader of the nightclubbers, she has been visiting more regularly, joining the dependent orphans every day and remaining with them until nightfall. She always takes the opportunity to escort Kiasa back to her stockade, before disappearing off into the night. Zongoloni obviously hopes that Kiasa will join her nightclubbers’ herd in the future.

The other nightclubbers — Jasiri, Ngasha, Faraja, and Ziwa — are all doing very well. Ziwa is blossoming into a strikingly majestic bull. He goes away for long stretches of time, but whenever he spends time with the dependent herd, the Keepers marvel at his size and confidence. One afternoon, he showed up with two wild friends in tow. Lima Lima, who is friendly towards outsiders yet protective of her herd in equal measure, wanted to know more about the bulls. Ziwa was willing to vouch for their character, and after he had a brief consultation with Lima Lima, she permitted them to join the orphans. The bulls were very gentle and even had a lovely interaction with Kiombo and Maktao, with Sonje watching on. Their interactions may be closely supervised, but even the youngest members of our herd have the opportunity to mingle with wild friends. 

August 2021 day to day

01 Aug

The night clubbers arrived early this morning to join the Umani orphans at the lucerne corner and to see all their babies together, happy and healthy is always a moment of joy for the Keepers. 

Zongoloni arrived with all her boys, except for Ziwa. The Keepers looked out for him but when he didn’t turn up they guessed he must be out with his wild elephant friends. Zongoloni walked over to where Kiasa was standing with Murera, to greet her. After a few minutes Murera left in quite a haste, leaving Kiasa in the capable care of Zongoloni. The Keepers saw Jasiri approaching and the reason for Murera’s quick exit was now understood. Jasiri likes to chase poor Murera, trying to mount her and Murera is not interested. All the chasing and running tires her out, so whenever Jasiri is nearby Murera makes sure she had made herself scarce. Zongoloni knows that Jasiri can also be a little rough with the little ones, so she stood between Kiasa and Jasiri, as indication, that Jasiri should not cross the line with Zongoloni.

Maktao adores his friend Enkesha. The older girl is often seen at night, pushing her trunk through the wooden slacks of her pen, to reach out her trunk to Maktao who is her neighbor. Maktao finds Enkesha’s presence very re-assuring and this kind of behavior always helps the newly graduated orphans to settle into their new homes, faster. A little later in the afternoon Lima Lima recruited the help of her friend Quanza to lead the orphans up the Umani Hills. There was plentiful browse and soon all the stockade dependent orphans settled into browsing until it was time go home.

Orphans at the mudbath

Murera waiting for her friends

Quanza in the Umani Hills