Keepers' Diaries, August 2021

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. 

01 August 2021

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.

02 August 2021

A large herd of wild buffalos had made themselves very comfortable on a path that leads up to the water springs. Luckily one of the Keepers who had walked ahead had spotted them and returned to inform the rest.

Having the path blocked meant the herd could not move forward, the Keepers ushered the little ones like Maktao and Kiombo to the back of the herd until they could come up with a solution. They didn’t have to wait long because brave Lima Lima and Faraja walked up to where they could see the buffaloes and Faraja let out a few very loud trumpets, the scared buffaloes disappeared into the forest, now leaving the path clear for Faraja and his friends to carry on down to the Springs. Murera, Alamaya and Mwashoti broke away from the herd and sought out their own path. Alamaya and Mwashoti were eager to share with Murera their knew found knowledge of the Springs area, showing Murera where the tastiest acacia pods were. Murera enjoys the company of Alamaya and Mwashoti, they don’t bother her the way Jasiri and Faraja do. She knows that if Jasiri and Faraja, start to chase her Alamaya and Mwashoti will step in to stop them. 

After the midday feed, the orphans opted out of wallowing in the mud-bath as the weather was too cold. The chose instead to indulge in lengthy dust baths and resting under the acacia trees before setting off towards they Chyulu Hills, after stopping at the water troughs to drink water.

03 August 2021

We had a wonderful start to the morning with all the babies enjoying their milk bottles and lucerne feed before making their way out of the stockades to start another day of browsing.

Mid-afternoon, Enkesha with her young charges, Maktao and Kiombo decided to lead the herd in a different direction in search of fresh forage. On the way there they encountered two wild bulls who were engaged in a stand off with a herd of buffaloes. The Umani herd had to stop as they were unable to cross over to the other side. Whilst the buffaloes dispersed quickly on seeing the orphans’ approach, the wild bulls stood their ground not allowing our babies to move past them. The Keepers quickly moved the younger babies further back into the bush and Lima Lima, ever the peace maker decided to appeal to the good nature of the wild bulls, but Lima Lima was in for a rude shock when the two bulls turned on her. Lima Lima quickly backed away, as did Zongoloni who was not too far behind her. She gathered the little babies and ushered them away from the wild bulls. Faraja and Ngasha stepped and tried their best to request the wild bulls to allow their friends to pass, but their efforts were thwarted. This gave the Keepers a bit of time to lead the already flustered away from the wild bulls, but in all the confusion, Lima Lima, got separated from the main herd.

The Keepers managed to get the orphans safe home minus our Lima Lima. The took one tractor and another vehicle and set out to look for her, calling out her name. Lima Lima must have heard the tractor and emerged from the bushes, happy to see the Keepers and follow her home. All the Keepers were so relieved to see her and received her with great joy. Although it was late by the time Lima Lima and the Keepers search team returned, Lima Lima had a bottle of milk waiting for her in the room and a soft bed of hay.

04 August 2021

Today was another eventful day for the orphans, as they set out towards the Umani Hills in search of browse with the Keepers. At the bottom of the hills they spotted one of the wild bulls from yesterday’s encounter.

The bull recognized Lima Lima, Murera and Sonje. The bull started to move towards Murera but scared by his sheer size, Murera ran away, which left Lima Lima to approach the bull. The bull was so big that Lima Lima barely reached his belly. The Keepers were uneasy but luckily all the night clubbers were present and when the bull turned Lima Lima again, they all stepped in and in the end the wild bull realized he was outnumbered and left. The Keepers then decided to move away from the Umani Hill, allowing the orphans to choose another spot to browse in.

Alamaya and Mwashoti have taken to separating the little babies from the herd. They often move away with the Kiasa, Enkesha, Kiombo and Maktao in the hopes of recruiting them to join the night clubbers. Sonje is wise and knows the boy’s tricks, so whenever she sees them moving off, she follows them and brings the babies back to join herd, knowing they are far too young to leave the Umani herd. In the Chyulu Hills, there was a troop of baboons swinging from tree to tree in search of food. Quanza and Faraja decided to chase them and trumpet at them, the baboon caused such a racket, screaming and jumping the branches, that both elephants tired and left them.

05 August 2021

It was turning out to be another hot day and orphans were hot and uneasy. As soon as they had their midday bottles, all entered the mud-bath to cool off and cover their bodies in the mud.

Mwashoti and Jasiri had a disagreement. Jasiri wanted to wallow in Mwashoti’s spot but the younger bull was not done. Despite Jasiri’s insistence Mwashoti stood his ground, knowing that if he wanted to make a place for himself in the night clubbers herd, he needed to exert himself. Eventually Jasiri walked away leaving Mwashoti to enjoy his mud wallow. Lima Lima walked up to Zongoloni and Jasiri and the two girls were seen to be in deep discussion with heads bowed, after a while the two girls broke away from the herd and started to walk towards the Chyulu Hills, leaving Murera and Sonje in charge of the Umani herd. It is quite dry at the moment and the older girls know that they need to search for a new place for the herd to browse at, which is why Zongoloni and Lima Lima must have left.  

Kiasa and Murera had a falling out over a stick Murera picked and was playing with, and Kiasa tried to take the stick from Murera and Murera rumbled at her in warning and did not give her the stick. Kiasa walked away upset and joined Sonje and Kiombo where they were browsing. Enkesha engaged little Maktao in a friendly pushing game, gently teaching a few skills of playing. Ziwa also joing the Umani herd today, after a very long absence and Keepers were very happy to see him healthy and well.

06 August 2021

The orphans came out of their rooms, all rested and eager to start their day. The put their trunks in the air, catching the scent of the lucerne being wheeled to the lucerne corner.  

Lima Lima was the first one to spot the with Keeper with a wheelbarrow full of the delicious lucerne. She was so impatient that she started to grab trunkfuls of lucerne from the moving wheelbarrow. The Keeper had to stop and chase her away, but as soon as the lucerne was laid out, in came Faraja and Ngasha, pushing little Kiombo out of the way to get to the lucerne. Sonje was not happy and reprimanded the older boys for their bullish behavior. They also got a stern warning from the Keepers.  

Whilst in the bushes we came across a small herd of wild female elephants. The wild females joined the Umani herd and to the delight of Murera and Lima Lima, this wild herd had four very tiny babies with them. Murera and Lima Lima joined them, and they all started to walk together. Lima Lima was playing with the little calves, when one of them let out a very small but loud scream. No one was sure quite what happened but the little babies ran back to their herd and the matriarch of the herd let out a very loud and low rumble as if warning the Umani herd to stay away from their babies. The warning was heeded, and our orphans went their separate way. Quanza and Alamaya led the herd to a new browsing spot where they remained all afternoon.

07 August 2021

A young bull arrived at the stockades early this morning. He must have heard through the “elephant grapevine” that there’s a place where he can get free lucerne. He arrived at the stockades before any of the night clubber boys. Only Zongoloni was present and she welcomed the young bull knowing how dry Kibwezi is at the moment with scarce browse. 

Jasiri arrived soon after; he seemed to know the young bull and they acknowledged each other. Both enjoyed the delicious lucerne together. The Keepers could see that he was a gentle young bull who didn’t bother anyone, he just wanted to fill his belly. Enkesha and Maktao decided to make an early start when they saw the young bull, they left before everyone was ready leaving behind Sonje, Murera and Lima Lima eating lucerne next to the wild bull. The wild bull left as soon as he was done. Quanza also decided against the lucerne feed and followed Enkesha and Maktao out into the browsing field.  

The weather in Umani has been quite dry resulting in a few wildfires. The most affected are baboons. Often, as soon as the orphans are done with their lucerne, baboons swoop in and pick up the leftover lucerne. Wild animals continue to return to the Springs where forage is plentiful, especially buffaloes. Zongoloni and the Keepers encountered a herd as they were making their way to the Springs. The buffalo herd ran off, startled at encountering our Keepers and orphans. One their little babies got left behind who let out a loud bellow alerting the attention of its mother who turned around thinking it was one of our orphans troubling her baby. Lima Lima, Sonje and Mwashoti with the help of the Keepers made a quick retreat, collecting little babies Maktao, Kiombo and Kiasa as they moved away. 

08 August 2021

The orphans headed out in the direction of the Chyulu Hills but seemed to be having second thoughts as they got closer. They perhaps caught scent of other wild animals that must be browsing on the hills and the Keepers too caught glimpses of buffalo herds, so Sonje and Murera consulted each other and after a few rumbles after they led the orphans towards the Kenze Hills.  

This was a good decision all round as the orphans managed to find plenty of forage and the absence of other wild animals meant the orphans and Keepers would have a peaceful morning. Lima Lima and Ziwa started to play their friendly pushing games, trying to get Quanza to join them, but Quanza was not interested. She saw that Maktao was all by himself and decided to keep him company by browsing together.  

Whenever the night clubber boys visit the Umani herd, they do not stay for long, they make their usual rounds of greeting and then take off to join their wild friends in the forest but today Ziwa, Ngasha and Alamaya stayed with the orphans all day. Zongoloni has become more of a regular visitor, joining the orphans everyday and staying with them until it is time to go home. The Keepers know that this is because she is interested in Kiasa and hopes one day Kiasa will join the nigh clubbers herd.

09 August 2021

It was a lovely afternoon today, with the night clubbers, minus Ziwa, joining the Umani orphan. Zongoloni arrived with all her boys and we are sure she must have tried to get Ziwa to join them, and the Keepers hoped he would, but no sign of him today.

Murera who is not too fond of Jasiri because he likes to chase her, hoping to mount her, was not too happy to see him join them today. So, when Jasiri and Faraja started to approach Murera, Alamaya stood between his two friends and Murera. Alamaya spread his ears and flapped them, signaling Jasiri and Faraja not to bother Murera. By midday, temperatures were starting to rise and the orphans were very hot. They all quickly made their way to the mud-bath. Some of the orphans went straight to the water-trough whilst Lima Lima, Quanza and Mwashoti waded into the mud to cool off. These three were the swimming champion, submerging their entire bodies in the mud-bath with only their trunks sticking out like snorkels.  

Whilst the orphans were still in the mud-bath, a herd of buffaloes arrived, waiting their turn to cool off in the mud. Quanza and Lima Lima spotted them and trumpeted at their friends to chase away the buffaloes. Enkesha heard them but she knows she’s no match for the buffaloes, so our clever girl, rounded up the babies instead and move them away from the buffaloes.  

10 August 2021

Lima Lima’s night adventures with her wild bull friends definitely has its benefits. With the dry season, there is less browse in all the normal places where the orphans normally browse. 

Today Lima Lima led her friends to a new area, between the Umani and Kenze Hills. It was quite a long trek and a bit of steep incline for Murera but she knows how important it is to get to the new browsing spot as it is teeming with fresh foliage. Murera has devised her own way of managing steep hills, instead of going up in a straight line, she goes in a zig-zag manner with Mwashoti close by her side, keeping an eye on her. Murera knows Sonje is busy looking after her baby Kiombo so she relies on Mwashoti’s good company. As soon as the orphans reached the top, everyone got busy filling their bellies. The peaceful afternoon was ruined when a troop of baboons decided to swing from tree to tree, screaming and shaking the branches, scaring the orphans. Alamaya who was right under one of trees got so scared that he ran blindly, scaring the other orphans too. Everyone scattered leaving Ngasha with Maktao. The Keepers settled the orphans after chasing off the baboons.

Later in the evening, Zongoloni came across a young female elephant who had a very young baby. Zongoloni who is always on the lookout for small babies, kept very close to both mother and baby in the hopes of stealing the little baby. The mother already suspicious of Zongloni’s plan, kept her baby very close, but in the end both of them disappeared into the bushes, leaving Zongoloni all by herself.

11 August 2021

Ziwa is growing up to be a very majestic bull and this was evident when arrived this afternoon to join the orphans in the Kenze Hills. He continues to grow in size. With him were two of his wild bull friends, and both Alamaya and Faraja recognized them and walked up to greet them.

As always Lima Lima wanted to know who these bulls were and what their interest was with the Umani herd, after a brief consultation with Ziwa, Lima Lima agreed for the two wild bulls to join the orphans, on the condition that they would behave considering there were females and young babies in the Umani herd. Ziwa seemed to relay this to his friends, because the bulls joined the orphans and the Keepers saw that the bulls were very gentle and peaceful. All the orphans were relaxed and continued to browse. This gentle demeanor encouraged our two youngest boys to say “jambo” to the older wild bulls and soon they were all walking together. Sonje was keeping a very close eye, and as soon as she saw that the wild bulls were walking away with Maktao and Kiombo, she rumbled at Kiombo who immediately stopped, and turned back to Sonje, with Maktao following him.  

Towards the evening, just before the orphans started to make their way home, they decided to cool off with one last mud-bath, as they waded into the mud, their hot bodies started to cool down. Everyone was in the mud-bath with some of the orphans showing only their trunks above the mud. Mwashoti decided to play with Lima Lima by riding on her back but Ngasha did not think this was a good idea and pushed Mwashoti out of the mud-bath to let Lima Lima swim.

12 August 2021

The dry spell in Umani continues and it is becoming quite difficult to find forage. The day begins with the orphans having their milk and lucerne supplement and then setting out towards the Umani and Kenze Hills where they have discovered plentiful greens, thanks to Lima Lima’s skills.

It seems other wild elephants and buffaloes have discovered the same area because today, when the orphans got to the top of the hill, there found a wild elephant herd, already busy browsing. Alamaya, Ngasha and Faraja were not too happy with this and decided to break away from the Umani herd to find another browsing spot. There area is large, so it was easy for our orphans to find another spot where they browsed peacefully, filling their bellies. Kiasa and Kiombo had a minor disagreement over a stick. Kiombo found it but Kiasa tried to take it from him and so a small tug-of-war ensued. Before it could get out of hand, Enkesha went over to mediate but Kiasa being the stubborn little girl did not listen to her. Sonje intervened, reprimanding Kiasa for pushing Kiombo and when Zongoloni realized Kiasa was in trouble, she came along with Lima Lima and Quanza and all three were separated. Zongoloni moved away with Kiasa, Sonje took Kimbo under her wing and Enkesha joined Lima Lima and Quanza for browsing.

13 August 2021

Kiombo was browsing quietly in the bushes when a troop of baboons who were swing through the trees with their babies, startled Kiombo with all their screaming and barking. Poor Kiombo, he ran out of the bushes blindly, thinking something was about to attack him. He ran straight to Sonje who was browsing a bit further away, and on seeing how flustered Kiombo was, Sonje quickly wrapped her trunk around his belly, resting her chin on his head to calm him. With a few gentle rumbles, she managed to settle Kiombo but Quanza who heard all the commotion came over to inquire after the little bull and to make sure he was ok. Between the two girls they managed to settle Kiombo but for there rest of the morning, Kiombo walked around with his ears spread, ready to catch any sounds of any danger.  

Faraja and the other nightclubber boys made their way to the Hills and joined the Umani herd during their morning browsing activities. Today it was Jasiri and Alamaya who skipped the morning session but joined their friends later at the midday wallow. After their bottles of milk, Mwashoti, Lima Lima and Zongoloni waded into the mud, rolling around and splashing the mud, showcasing different styles of wallowing, as though to teach the little babies, different ways elephants can wallow and cover their bodies in mud.

The Keepers saw some movement in the bushes and thought it might be the wind but checking again they saw a herd of buffaloes, waiting for their turn at the mud-bath. Kiasa, Maktao and Enkesha took their leisurely time wallowing whilst the buffaloes waited patiently. When they were finally done, they exited the mud-bath but because the orphans think the mud-bath belongs to only them, Enkesha let out a few loud trumpets to scare off the buffaloes. Sonje, Lima Lima and Zongoloni were nearby and they rushed over to see why Enkesha was trumpeting, when they saw the buffaloes waiting, they joined in the trumpeting, chasing away the poor buffaloes. The orphans are ok if other wild animals come to the mud-bath but not when they are there, they think the mud-bath is for them only.  

14 August 2021

Mwashoti and Lima Lima have now taken the bold step of not sleeping at their stockade quarters at night, instead these two orphans chose to stay out at night with their nightclubber friends and other wild elephants. They also know that out in the wild there is more forage. Lima Lima has now left her duties of being a nanny to the babies in the very capable hands of Sonje, knowing that Quanza and Enkesha are also matriarchs in the making, ready to step into their new roles. This doesn’t stop these two babies from returning to the stockades in the morning for their milk bottles. For now, the Keepers will continue to give them their bottles, but there will come a time, when they will be weaned off the milk completely.  

A small group of female bushbucks were on the look out for acacia pods as were a troop of baboons, they know that elephants know where the tastiest pods are and so followed the scent of the orphans hoping to find some acacia pods. The orphans were taking a break from the heat and resting under some acacia trees when Faraja and Ziwa caught scent of the baboons and noticed them up in the trees. They got up and pushed on the tree hard enough to chase away the baboons as well as the bushbucks who were waiting nearby. As an added effort Alamaya and Jasiri joined in and ran after the bushbucks and chasing the baboons too. Murera and the Keepers had a hard time bringing back Alamaya and Jasiri, as they continued their chase, this is because Maktao had decided to join them. The Keepers called out to Maktao, and after a while the bull reappeared, clearly exhausted from all the running and happy to return to his family.

15 August 2021

Murera has also started to explore her independence, choosing to stay out at night, but not with wild bulls, instead Murera prefers the company of herds with females who have little babies. We all know just how much Murera loves little babies!

This has now left Kiasa to explore her options and has been bonding with Quanza quite well. Quanza has taken on this role with great pride and gives Kiasa a lot of attention, always making sure she remains close to her new baby, leaving Murera and Lima Lima to pursue their independence. The most interesting development has been between Murera and Jasiri. In the past Jasiri has been quite a nuisance to Murera who would avoid him at all costs, but out in the wild, the two elephants walk side by side and Murera even seems to enjoy Jasiri’s company. Lima Lima, who remains to be the Keepers informant, rushed over to them this afternoon. The Keepers thought she had some information on sighting a wild animal or something, waited for a signal from her, but Lima Lima wanted to see her babies, Maktao and Kiasa. Maktao was with Enkesha browsing and Kiasa was nearby too. Lima Lima walked over to Maktao and rumbled at him, put her trunk in Maktao mouth and did the same with Kiasa. Maybe she just wanted to let them know that she missed them and after a few rumbles and trunk hugs, Lima Lima left to join her wild friends.  

16 August 2021

Murera continues to stay out with her wild female herds, sometimes she does accompany her nightclubber friends, but for a brief period, and then always returns to join her wild female friends.

This morning she arrived early with some of her wild female friends, with them were two small babies, walking behind Murera. Murera was so gentle and loving with them, gently urging them and showing the way to stockade, and almost as if telling them not to fear the Keepers. The Keepers were watching this and could see how happy she was with her new friends and the little babies. Mwashoti who was usually with the nightclubber boys, was with Murera today. Ziwa and Faraja did not want to be a part of a female herd so they went their separate way, leaving Mwashoti with Murera. Eventually Mwashoti will do the same but for now he was with Murera.

Whilst out in the forest the Keepers heard very loud trumpeting, the looked in the direction of where the sound was coming from, thinking perhaps there might be wild herd nearby but when they looked closer they saw Zongoloni, Alamaya and Lima Lima rushing towards them. Joyful to see their Keepers and friends, they are greeted each other enthusiastically. They stayed with the Umani herd until it was time to go home. Lima Lima led everyone home and then the three older orphans left to enjoy their nightly adventures.

17 August 2021

Lima Lima and Faraja continue to be great friends. If Lima Lima is out with her other wild bull friends, somehow her and Faraja always find each other and when they do, it is trunk hugs for Lima Lima from Faraja. Lima Lima rumbles her approval so Faraja knows she is ok to receive affection from Faraja.

Today Faraja playfully mounted Lima Lima’s back and she allowed him to do so but little Kiasa and Kiombo thought that Faraja was being a nuisance to Lima Lima so they ran towards him trumpeting at him with their little trunks. Faraja stopped and pushed little Kiombo. Kiasa retreated, scared of Faraja and both babies ran to Enkesha as though complaining to her about Faraja. Enkesha embraced them with trunk hugs and gentle rumbles helping them to settle down. She rumbled at them a few times, perhaps explaining that Faraja is a big bull and can be a be rough at times so to keep their distance from him. The rest of the passed uneventfully.

18 August 2021

From the time Enkesha arrived at Umani Springs she has always displayed the skills of being a good matriarch. These skills have now been put into better practice with both Murera and Lima Lima staying out in the wild at night.

Enkesha loves Maktao and is always at hand to ensure her little boy feels happy and safe. Maktao is a gentle soul and Kiombo and Kiasa are rather cheeky and naughty and sometimes they can bully Maktao as he is the youngest in the Umani herd. Enkesha in her gentle and loving way always manages to make peace between these three. At night, Enkesha who is Maktao’s neighbor will always push her trunk through the wooden slacks to reassure him of her presence, sometimes even sharing her greens with him, by pushing them from her side to his. Once Murera and Lima Lima are full immersed into the wild, the Keepers are very confident that Enkesha will make a wonderful matriarch when her time will come, for now she continues to also learn from Sonje and Quanza.  

A herd of wild bulls arrived at the Umani Hills to find the Umani herd browsing. Quanza with Sonje’s help, managed to move the babies away from the bulls. They rumbled at Kiombo, Kiasa and Maktao to move away from the bulls, because if they got caught in the middle of the bulls, it would be very difficult for the Keepers to extract them and it was coming up to midday, time for the milk bottles. The little one obeyed and listened and quickly made their way to where Sonje and Quanza were and then all the orphans headed down to the mud-bath for the noon bottle.

19 August 2021

Umani is still very dry right now, with the current wildfires, there is an abundance of acacia pods on the ground and plenty of browse to be found near the springs.

The nightclubbers must have shared this information with their wild friends, because when the Umani herd arrived at the Umani springs, they found no acacia pods and instead were met by a wild buffalo herd browsing on the lucerne. Never having seen humans before, the buffalo herd got spooked and ran off, leaving the orphans to enjoy the lucerne that they found the buffalos had been feasting on.

Lima Lima and Zongoloni arrived today and manage to entice Enkesha and Kiasa to follow them and their wild friends out into the forest. Enkesha who still has her adventurous streak and Kiasa always curious happily followed her friends and their wild friends. The only one not happy was Quanza who watching from a distance. Eventually she rumbled at Enkesha but this did not stop her, so she had to follow them and rumble at Enkesha again to get her attention. Both younger girls stopped and returned to where Quanza was who communicated to them, why it was a bad idea to follow Lima Lima and Zongoloni right now. They were far too young to go into the wild just yet.  

20 August 2021

Kiombo found himself at the receiving end of Mwashoti’s jealousy today. The young bull and Sonje were at the water-trough this morning and Sonje moved away to dust herself. Kiombo found himself alone with Mwashoti next to him and the older bull took this opportunity to push Kiombo down and then hold him down. Kiombo screamed for help alerting the Keepers who came to his rescue and reprimand Mwashoti. Sonje also heard her baby’s screams and rushed over to his aid. Mwashoti knew he was in trouble so he his behind Lima Lima but she moved away knowing that Mwashoti needed to learn his lesson. Sonje trumpeted at him letting him know he was wrong to push little Kiombo who is younger and smaller thank Mwashoti. Mwashoti ran off into the bushes trumpeting, no one followed him as everyone knew he was in the wrong.

The orphans returned home early evening hot and exhausted from a full day of looking for browse and avoiding will buffalo herds who were now starting to spread into the same browsing areas as the orphans since greens are so scarce. As soon as they orphans settled into their rooms, most of them fell asleep right away.

21 August 2021

Kiombo knows that he is always safe with Sonje, that Sonje will always give him all the protection and attention he needs. Unfortunately, Kiombo found himself alone with Mwashoti again.  

Mwashoti did not waste another minute and pushed Kiombo down again. This time Kiombo got up and ran towards who he thought was Sonje, but in his confusion, he had run towards Murera who did not give Kiombo the attention he was looking for. A bit bewildered as to why “Sonje” would reject him, but then he realized it was Murera and not Sonje he had run to, so he put his trunk up in the air to catch Sonje’s scent and let out a trumpet. Sonje immediately responded by trumpeting back and Kiombo caught her scent and started to walk towards Sonje and Sonje was already walking towards him. She welcomed with a lot of low comforting rumbles and trunk hugs. Once with his beloved Sonje, all was well for Kiombo.

Zongoloni, Ngasha and Alamaya arrived to see the orphans and communicated to them to follow then to the Chyulu Hills. Only Kiasa, Enkesha and Maktao followed them where they spent the afternoon browsing. Closer to the evening, Enkesha lead them back to where Murera and Quanza were and they all walked home together. Kiasa and Maktao took the lead and were happy to be home to enjoy a warm bottle of milk and then retire to their pens. Murera escorted Kiasa to her room and then left to join her wild friends for her nightly adventures.

22 August 2021

The arrival of our two nightclubber boys, Jasiri and Ngasha caused quite a bit of unrest amongst the orphans.  

All the orphans were enjoying a peaceful leisurely start to their morning, picking lucerne pellets. Lima Lima was browsing at the edge of the stockades, and sensed some movement in the bushes, when she turned to look, she saw her friends Jasiri and Ngasha approaching. She walked over to greet them, but it seems as though Jasiri already had other plans. As soon as Lima Lima got closer, he mounted her and Lima Lima continued walking. Ngasha was not too pleased and wanted to have the same chance as Jasiri and tried to push Jasiri off Lima Lima’s back. Jasiri being the hot-headed bull, was not very happy about this and a fierce fight broke out between the two bulls. Lima Lima did not want to be caught in the crossfire and ran off. Kiombo and Enkesha who were nearby, also sought refuge with Sonje as the bulls started to push each other.  

Enkesha walked over to Zongoloni as though imploring her to put an end to the boys’ fighting, but they did not have to wait long, as Jasiri gave up on Ngasha. Ngasha did not waste any more time and ran off to look for Lima Lima who had disappeared into the forest. Jasiri also did not remain with the orphans and went off on his own to look for his wild friends. Only Faraja remained with the Umani herd and he was very well behaved.

23 August 2021

After their midday bottles, none of the orphans wanted to step in the mud-bath to wallow or even have a drink of water, but Quanza and Sonje decided to go in. 

Both girls waded in, slowly taking their time. As Quanza was getting ready to lay down in the mud, she felt something crawling on her back. Unable to see what it was and because it felt unfamiliar, she got up all of a sudden to throw off whatever was on her back, and it was a poor little terrapin! The poor thing went flying through the air startling Sonje, so she trumpeted in a fright, making Quanza skittish and trumpeting too because neither knew what was going on, so all of a sudden there was all this splashing and trumpeting without either orphan know what was wrong and the Keepers who were watching this whole show unfold were bent over in laughter! The poor terrapin, hopefully it landed somewhere safe! After that all the orphans decided to stay away from the mud-bath, despite it being so hot.

Luckily our clever girl Enkesha discovered another waterhole, where she snuck off to, with Maktao. The two enjoyed a long drink of water and a leisurely wallow but soon the others discovered Enkesha’s waterhole and everyone was relieved to be able to finally cool off. Murera arrived to see her babies but stayed in the shade watching them.

24 August 2021

Murera arrived this morning looking for her baby Kiasa, and she joined the orphans for their morning browsing activities.

Later in the day she caught the scent of her friends, wild bulls that she has made friends with and stays out with at night. She followed the scent until she caught up with them. This meant leaving Kiasa behind, the Keepers understand that this is natural progression for girls like Murera and Lima Lima, it is time for them to go out and live their life out in the wild, as happy free elephants. Murera also knows that girls like Enkesha and Quanza are capable of looking after Kiasa in her absence. Maktao who was not too far from Kiasa, walked over to her and the two walked back together to where Enkesha was browsing. Enkesha welcomed Kiasa with gentle low rumbles which we know is always comforting for the babies.  

Whenever out in the wild Mwashoti will stay close to Murera but today when he saw her joining other wild bulls, he understood that Murera must be able to socialize with other male elephants as this part of the process when mates are being chose. Although right now, both Murera and Lima Lima seemed to be enjoying the social aspect of making new friends, male and female. There will come a time when the girls will mate and we hope they will bring us babies of their own someday!

25 August 2021

Whenever Faraja and Ziwa have a chance they love to engage each other in friendly pushing games. Today Sonje and Lima Lima were nearby so they wanted to put on a show for them, to show the girls who is the strongest male between the two, because this would mean the dominant male would be the one to protect the female when out in the wild.

The winner is always Faraja and this is why Lima Lima follows him everywhere and play with him. Sometimes Faraja will also mount Lima Lima and she does not mind this at all, as he did today. Kiombo and Maktao were watching Faraja and Lima Lima and could not understand what was going on, they thought perhaps Faraja was being his usual nuisance self, bothering Lima Lima so they decided to put an end to it. Mwashoti, who knew better, stood between the two young bulls and Faraja and Lima Lima, because he knew that if the two bulls tried to stop Faraja, that Faraja would push them down. Mwashoti did not want to see the young bulls get hurt.

At midday it was so hot that the orphans couldn’t wait to cool off in the mud-bath. Quanza, Enkesha and Zongoloni were the first to wade in and Sonje followed suit with her baby boy Kiombo. Soon the mud-bath was overflowing with all the orphans, splashing mud and having a wallow. Ngasha was showing off some magnificent wallowing skills when he accidentally bumped into Mwashoti who let out a very loud scream. All the girls turned their attention towards the sound thinking it might be one of their little one but when they saw it was Mwashoti, they know he is a big boy and knows how to take care of himself, and returned to their mud wallowing. Poor Mwashoti, sometimes growing up isn’t so much fun!

26 August 2021

It’s still very dry in Umani area, all the way up to the Chyulu’s as well, making Umani Springs a haven for all animals looking for greens and water. Large herds of elephants pass through the springs every day, with their babies, this is because there is plenty of water as well. This is one of the reasons SWT works hard to safeguard the Umani area and its environs as it is crucial for the survival of wild animals during the dry seasons.

This morning when the Keepers woke up, there was a throng of buffalos and antelopes already waiting at the lucerne corner for the Keepers to lay out the lucerne, but as soon as they orphans saw other animals they were not too happy and did not want to share their lucerne. It started with Mwashoti blowing his trumpet and then Sonje joining in and then the rest of the orphans followed suit, all the noise and cacophony chased away the buffaloes and antelopes.  

Luckily in all the commotion of running buffaloes and antelopes, none of the orphans got hurt. The older girls made sure of this. Enkesha quickly ushered Kiasa out of the way and Zongoloni and her nightclubber boys stood between the buffaloes and their stockade dependent friends. Everyone was safe and the older elephants settle the little ones and then they set out for their morning.

27 August 2021

Kiasa and Kiombo had another disagreement with a stick she had found. Kiombo also wanted the stick so he placed his trunk on the stick, wanting to pull it out of Kiasa’s trunk and so ensued another tug of war.

Kiombo was hoping that Kiasa would give up and drop the stick but to Kiombo’s disappointment, our headstrong little girl held onto her stick; the harder Kiombo pulled, the harder Kiasa held onto the stick. Eventually Sonje had to walk over to see what the commotion was about, and as soon as Kiasa saw Sonje, she dropped her stick and ran off thinking Sonje was there to scold her. Kiombo feeling quite triumphant grabbed the stick and put it in his mouth to chew on the bark.

Zongoloni was up in the Chyulu area with Alamaya and Jasiri and they made their way down to the stockades to see their friends before the retired for the night. Mwashoti was with the Umani orphans and when he saw Alamaya walking towards the stockades, he went up to him to greet him, but Alamaya ignored Mwashoti. Mwashoti was not happy at being overlooked so he complained to Quanza who rumbled at him perhaps teaching him that Mwashoti needs to learn to respect the older bulls.

28 August 2021

All the orphans made a beeline for the lucerne that the Keepers had laid out for them this morning. Heads bowed all the orphans were engrossed in enjoying their lucerne. After a short while, Zongoloni and the nightclubber boys joined the orphans and unbeknownst to the Keepers, a very big wild bull with ragged ears had followed the nightclubbers.

He arrived with great gusto, and before the Keeper had a chance to safeguard the little babies, he started chasing Sonje and Kiombo. Then he caught scent of the Keepers and couldn’t understand why elephants would be with humans so he started to herd the orphans as though wanting to separate them from the Keepers, thinking that the Keepers would harm the orphans. This caused a lot of disruption and confusion amongst the orphans, none of them knew which way to go especially the little babies. Luckily the bull caught sight of Lima Lima and was completely enamored by her. The bull started following Lima Lima and she quickly realized that she could safeguard her friends by luring him away. All was peaceful once the bull moved away, the Keepers and older girls collected the rest of the orphans and slowly started to make their way out to the browsing field.

Murera was with her Umani friends today when the old bull arrived. She knows the old bull and had been warned against him by her new wild female friends, so today she made sure to stay far away from him because if the bull were to pursue her, she would not be able to run very fast.

29 August 2021

Faraja who arrived yesterday morning to greet his friends and then disappeared for the rest of the day, arrived again this morning but on his own.

Ngasha who was his friend, walked up to greet him but Faraja gave him a very hard head butt and pushed him out of the way, startling Faraja and surprising the Keepers as Faraja and Ngasha have always been good friends. Faraja’s behavior was quite aggressive so everyone stayed out his way for a few hours, with the Keepers keeping a watchful eye on him that he does not trouble any other orphans. After a while Lima Lima approached him and the two went off into the forests, where whatever Lima Lima communicated with him seemed to work because after that Faraja was back to him normal friendly self. Lima Lima is a good friend to Faraja, and he always listens to her.

Murera and Sonje gathered their little herd and were resting under the shade of some acacia trees. Whilst the two girls were discussing their next move, Mwashoti, Enkesha and Enkesha were watching a small troop of monkeys playing in the trees. The monkeys were also helping themselves to the fresh acacia pods and dropping quite a few in the process. The orphans wasted no time in scooping up these delicious treats. Quanza and Zongoloni walked over ready to chase the monkeys away but when they saw the benefit to having the monkeys dropping the acacia pods, they too started to help themselves.

30 August 2021

Last night, there was an air of excitement in the forest. There was a lot of movement and trumpeting and the orphans found it very difficult to sleep.

For Kiombo, Kiasa and Maktao, this was a first, they had never heard such noises and were curious and scared at the same time. Sonje and Enkesha tried to settle them but they little ones were too excited. The Keepers came out to check on them to try and settle them, but nothing worked. Kiombo was pushing against the gate of him room wanting to get out and see for himself what was going on. In the end Sonje had to scold him a little so the boy would settle. Murera who had decided to stay the night at the stockades also tried to settle Kiasa with the help of Quanza but there was too much excitement. In the end it took Lima Lima, Zongoloni and the night clubbers to arrive at the gates of the stockades for the Umani herd to settle. Lima Lima rumbled at her friends, probably updating them on what was going on in the forests, for all the orphans to finally settle and go to sleep. The sounds from the forests were of male elephants chasing female elephants, searching for a mate in the hope of mating. These are sounds the Keepers and older Umani herd are familiar with and our babies too will soon get used to the same.

Early in the morning Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha arrived with a wild elephant bull to show him around the stocakdes and introduce him to their friends in the Umani herd. Mwashoti was not to happy about this and showed his displeasure by pulling the wild bulls tail. Now Mwashoti knows that elephants do like to have their tails pulled as they are quite sensitive, so he knew what he had done was wrong, so he ran away before the Keepers or any of this friends could scold him.

31 August 2021

Today our little babies had a small meeting of their own. Kiombo, Kiasa and Maktao lowered their heads together and stood in a circle as though communicating with each other and as soon as they had agreed on whatever they had been discussing, each walked towards their own chosen nanny to start the day of browsing.

Kiombo made his way to his beloved Sonje who was waiting form him. Kiasa walked over to Zongoloni and Maktao to Enkesha. Mwashoti started to follow Maktao and Enkesha because he wanted to play with Maktao, but one glance from Enkesha signaled Mwashoti that he should sought out the company of his own age mates. Mwashoti walked away towards Kithasyo where he knew he would find his friends and hopefully join them on their adventures.

Murera found a new bull friend, who decided he wanted to walk with her into the forest, Murera was very pleased and obliged the wild bull and Murera was not seen until later that evening when it was time to go home. It was Lima Lima and Zongoloni who led the orphans with little Kiasa walking next to Zongoloni. Once at the stockades Zongoloni escorted Kiasa to her room and once safely in, Zongoloni turned around to join Faraja and Jasiri who had stopped at the lucerne corner and then they all disappeared into the bushes.