Keepers' Diaries, December 2014

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

There is no where greener than Kibwezi Forest in the December rains and it is quite beautiful with wild flowers and lilies strewn everywhere. Needless to say the orphans have had an extremely fun month with more delicious food than they can cope with. As a result they are looking the picture of health. This month som huge rains storms and heavy wind have been challenging for the elephants and the Keepers particularly, and now the forest is filled with waterholes everywhere which provide great joy for not only our orphaned milk dependent babies but the wild elephants who are frequently almost daily now. Many of the visitors are bulls, but a few female herds with a number of babies have been visiting the Umani lodge waterhole in the evenings. The wild bulls are getting bolder all the time, and have begun to visit in day light hours too with the Keepers getting more and more sightings and photographs of them. Because of all the rainfall the terrapins are having a great time pond hopping, but one or two have run the gauntlet this season and found themselves trodden on by the elephants. Fortunately for them the Keepers are on hand to right them when they get upturned.

01 December 2014

It was a hard day for the elephants, when they came out in the morning to browse. The rain started with a very strong wind causing Lima lima to run all around looking for the keepers, to find out what was wrong and also where the keepers were taking cover from the strong storm wind. Zongoloni came running with Quanza over to where Lima lima was and on seeing her she whispered to Lima lima, who was near the keepers, and all the babies responded with big rumbles putting their trunks above one another for comfort. Murera and her best friend Sonje were not scared of the windy and stormy weather that continued for almost the whole day. Being older they knew it was normal conditions for the wild but the young babies had not realised that the thunderstorms and the strong winds were not something to worry about. The rain did not stop for a long time so the babies had a hard time in the bush. Whenever they tried to run away, they slipped and fell down on the wet earth, but then enjoyed rolling in it as a wallow. Suddenly a yellow fever tree started to fall down very close to the babies and keepers, everybody ran for dear life. Murera and Sonje behaved like big mothers protecting the young ones, and did not run away knowing that falling trees are part of life in the forest.

02 December 2014

Murera got up and was grumpy. She was very rough with the other babies, pushing young Lima lima, Zongoloni and Quanza to the ground, until the keepers came in to stop her from hurting them. Quanza chose to stay away from Murera and be with Sonje, who was very welcoming to the youngsters when Murera chased them away. The keepers had to warn Murera about her bad conduct Zongoloni became the star during the feeding time. These days she doesn’t need the keepers support to feed her but does it alone. She picks up and holds the bottle on her own then, when she has finished, she drops the empty bottle back on the ground. She copied this behaviour from Quanza, who was doing it but not picking the bottle from the ground. The keepers are left wondering if they still have a job to do!

03 December 2014

Sonje came out in the morning thinking about the soft greens that she had on the previous day. When the gate was opened she immediately came rushing out, going straight to the area she knew had plenty of the soft greens. She was followed by Lima lima, splashing water whilst leading her friends to the browsing area with lots of sweet lily grass. Zongoloni stopped on the way to test the flowing water on the road. Lima lima was worried as she could not see the keepers so she walked all round looking them. Zongoloni went onto the wet earth and began rolling and rolling, trying to catch the attention of the other babies so they would come and play with her. Sonje was busy leading the orphans; she came across a fallen yellow fever tree and began scratching her itchy body, so Murera took the lead until they returned to the stockades.

04 December 2014

The Babies came out happily in the morning, despite the vervet monkeys that were making lots of noise on their way from the hills of Umani towards the Lodge. The orphans rushed for the soft grass with very soft lilies, Zongoloni and Quanza stuffed their mouths so full they could hardly breathe. They were gobbling as if it was a competition. Murera went to look for Limalima but Limalima was not interested as Murera had pushed her away when she grabbed some of the lilies Murera was targeting to eat. Lima lima stayed with Quanza and Zongoloni who went directly to the thick forest. Quanza was running and stepped on a slowly walking turtle, overturning it. The keepers rescued it and put it back on the path into the forest again.

05 December 2014

Wild elephants are beginning to come to meet our orphans on an almost daily basis now. They know Murera and the other babies are closed in the stockades at night and find it very regrettable that they can’t come in because of the electric fences. Most of the wild elephants coming to the stockades are bulls and when Sonje and Murera smell them, Sonje tries to jump on the walls and Murera makes lots of trumpeting noise communicating with them. When the orphans came out for the morning browsing activities Quanza and Lima lima unsuccessfully tried to follow the wild ones trail. Zongoloni then went with her friend Sonje to browsing in the greener fields within the forest. They came upon a fallen tree to scratch their bottoms on. At milk feeding time Quanza took the bottle on her own not wanting the keepers help. Zongoloni does the same and when the milk is finished drops the empty bottle for the keeper to pick up for washing. The other babies were in the field browsing when Quanza took lead position going to their playing grounds. Zongoloni was busy scratching her bottom sideways on a rock with Lima lima scratching on the other side until she joined Zongoloni to scratch together.

06 December 2014

Murera commenced her day by walking to the scratching rocks and immediately scratching all over, especially her bottom, like she was very itchy. This squeezed off some of the hanging ticks and removed some stinging insects. Zongoloni took some soil and threw it on her head to get rid of the flies. Lima lima went to a fallen tree to scratch on it, but unfortunately when the tree was shaken there were some bees on it, which dropped onto her back and stung her. Lima lima ran away very fast, trumpeting and looking for help, until cleverly she went into the water hole to swim, knowing that this would get rid of the bees. Sonje and Murera were very shaken and ran back to the keepers who were hiding in the rocks to avoid the bees. Sonje walked on top of the rocks looking for the keepers with the others following. Murera climbing up very slowly.

07 December 2014

Murera lead the babies out looking very jovial and energetic. When they arrived at the forest Sonje began lining up the young babies, followed by Murera, and they started pushing down a big yellow fever tree that was already bent and looked ready to fall. The orphans just applied a little energy together and it went down very quickly, then they began scratching on it. Quanza found some wet earth to rub her belly in, enjoying it immensely. Murera , a little way away, did the same after seeing how happy Quanza was and then went to sleep, snoring like a human baby. At the mudbath time, Murera was being given her bottles when Lima lima, who had finished her share, came closer trying to steal a bottle from Murera. Murera just rumbled to her and the keepers saw Lima lima leaving very quickly. She was warned not to try anything like that with the other babies. When they finished their bottles, all the babies went straight to the soft soil to dust and play, before walking to the bushes. Sonje climbed through the rocks with Zongoloni trying to climb up to the top with her looking for the keepers hide outs. Murera could not go very high so she decided to start browsing in the fields, enjoying the soft lilies and new grass. Some baboons started to troop into the field which Murera did not like as they were making a lot of noise, she raised her big ears up scaring them away.

08 December 2014

The keepers and their lovely elephants stayed together for almost one hour until at about 7am the elephants started walking to the browsing field alone, deciding which side of the forest to go to. Murera sported a scratching rock and went for a scratch and also Quanza followed suite scratching her bottom on a tree nearby. When Quanza finished her scratching, she made the other babies form straight line leading off to the browsing fields. When greedy Lima lima saw them going she went to the soft grass, biting off more than she could chew to take with her. Quanza continued feeding unhurriedly as she knew there was plenty of vegetation and soft grass so there was no need to fill up. Rain began to fall and the orphans went looking for the keepers as if they were demanding raincoats to cover them. They had no luck and went back to taking cover under big trees.

09 December 2014

Quanza and Sonje went to the water hole immediately in the early morning. Quanza then turned round looking for a scratching rock and on spotting one went quickly over to scratch. Murera came and collected her to go off to the greener pastures in the fields. She began to sneeze with the grass still stuffed in her mouth, raising her big ears up to sneeze out the dust in her long nose. Murera left Quanza very hurriedly, flapping her ears and trying to rush and catch up with the other babies who had already left for the waterhole to drink. Sonje was found on the way trying to play with the butterflies flying above her head. She ended up trumpeting at them because she got tired and could not keep chasing them. The babies then made their way in to the natural waterhole to wallow although Murera had to wait for space when she found Lima lima was already ensconced. Sonje splashed vigorously in the water hole, turning herself brown with the mud. Quanza went to join her rolling in the mud and struggling to turn around so she could regain her feet more easily.

10 December 2014

A vervet monkey commenced the day with funny shouting when the babies came out of their stockades. Lima lima and Zongoloni were not convinced when it stopped and ran to their human family for support. Murera was not bothered though, just staying comfortably, happy and browsing in the thick forest. Limalima decided to follow Murera but when they came across to the keepers she decided to remain with them whilst Murera vanished into the bushes. After a few minutes she reappeared in the open fields where the other orphans could see her enjoying the abundant green vegetation. Whilst all the babies were browsing, two crested cranes flew over their heads making their unique sounds. Zongoloni, Quanza and Lima lima were scared and ran away to the keepers. At milk time Zongoloni came straight in, picking up and holding her bottles one after the other until she finished her share, then dropping the empty bottles down on the ground. The keepers laughed at her cleverness.

11 December 2014

Dawn arrived and the babies stated out on morning patrol to look for vegetation to feed on. More wild bulls have been seen at Umani, coming all the way from the Chulu hills to the orphanage to look for the orphans. Whenever they come close, Murera and Sonje trumpet to communicate with them. We hope that the bulls want to make a lasting friendship with Murera and Sonje, as they are the group leaders and old enough to be good friends. Lima lima and the other babies not bothered about their visits. Murera tried to follow the wild bulls’ trail in the morning but eventually gave up and went to the browsing fields with her babies, enjoying the green pasture and grass. They chased off some guinea fowl that flew into the trees to escape. Sonje was walking close to Murera when she reached fallen tree that she liked for scratching. She stopped to scratch her hind legs. On the way for milk, Quanza and Sonje began playing by holding their tails. Sometimes Sonje did not like Quanza touching her tail and tried to charge her, not seriously but more in fun.

12 December 2014

Murera went out early in the morning feeling hungry. The moment she exited the gate she went to the forest and began filling her mouth with greens. When the babies arrived with their keepers Quanza took the leadership role from Lima lima, and again Zongoloni rushed to help her in lead the big girls, Murera and Sonje. Murera patrolled the fields looking for new soft grass and water lilies that had come out thanks to the rains. She came across some dung from the wild elephants and picked it up to smell with her trunk. Lima lima searched all around the browsing area for her best friends, whom she found looking tired resting under a tree, before patrolling for the remaining part of the day.

13 December 2014

The elephants woke up feeling playful. They had a few games then went to eat some lilies and soft new shoots that appeared after rains. The natural waterholes, dug by the wild elephants are full of water, so the babies are very happy as they can wallow whenever they feel like getting muddy. Sonje and Murera usually start the swimming. While Sonje splashing her legs and later her back, Murera, folded her ears, and copied her, changing her skin colour black. Sonje continued showing off different styles of splashing then they went to a log that the wild elephants use to scratch on, and scratched their hind legs and itchy bottoms. After long time wallowing in the mud, Quanza and Lima paired up and left the others, hoping they would follow as they went into the forest to dry off and look for more food.

14 December 2014

At around 7am, Lima lima, as she often does, walked very quickly leaving Murera behind walking slowly. She went on, leading Quanza and Zongoloni, leaving Murera far behind patrolling with Sonje and going in a different direction. Before going far Zongoloni and Quanza left Lima lima following the keepers, and went back to find Sonje and Murera. Later Zongoloni was given a ‘time out’ for bad behaviour by Murera who pushed her off into the forest. Zongoloni cried out and Sonje went to see what was wrong but left he to it once she realised it was a punishment from Murera. The elephants came back to wallow for the second time as it was hot. While wallowing Quanza spotted some soft lilies to forage and went with Zongoloni to browse on them. Murera did not follow them but remained with Sonje in the bushes eating soft branches.

15 December 2014

Murera came rushing out of the stables in the morning looking for a scratching rock, finding a dry log on the way she scratched her bottom vigorously, swinging her bottom like she was listening to country music. When they wandered into the forest, picking soft greens, Quanza stretched her long trunk all the way back trying to keep off a stinging tsetse fly. Sonje took on the lead from Quanza, who was still being pestered by the tsetse fly. Sonje led the babies to join the keepers, who were taking their lunch under a tree. Quanza went to the soft grasslands in the swampy area where Murera was also patrolling and filling up her big stomach with soft grass. A baby bush buck was hidden close to where Murera was patrolling, when it jumped out running to it’s mother, the orphans fled, not knowing what was happening.

16 December 2014

Lima lima went out to forest rushing very hungrily to fill her stomach in the early morning. She arrived at the grasslands cutting and kicking grass with her legs so she could swallow it easily. Sonje browsed next to her and also pick up some soft branches. Murera went her own way to the tall grasslands where Lima lima joined to patrol, and walk to the dusting soil. At the dusting soil, all the babies had a lovely time dusting, trying hard to get rid of the tsetse flies and hanging ticks from their bodies. When they finished dusting Murera remained standing on the soil trying to calculate her next move and where she could get greener food. She started to walk away moving very slowly to the grasslands to join the other orphans for the remaining part of the day. Whilst still feeding Sonje went to the swampy area, going swimming and rolling on a palm tree submerged in the water

17 December 2014

When Quanza came out in the morning she lost her way after going to the bush. She became very worried searching for a way back to Zongoloni and Sonje. Finally she saw Sonje drinking at the waterhole and ran to her. Sonje patted her belly to reassure her that the other babies were not far away and they went with Lima lima to the forest to join them feeding peacefully and breaking soft branches. After browsing all the babies went to wallow at a natural water point. Lima lima did not want to walk with Zongoloni so she turned back and waited for Murera. The keepers took the orphans to a different part of the forest to play and have time scratching on the rocks. Murera was very strong and looked happy stepping on the rocks to follow the way Zongoloni had passed through some big rocks. When Murera climbed up the big rocks, she looked down on the keepers who were amazed at how strong she was today.

18 December 2014

Zongoloni went out looking for the soft branches to feed on in the morning. She was busy selecting her favourite branch when a swarm of bees came flying just few meters above her head. She did not know what the buzzing sound was but turned very quickly, running past where Sonje was browsing, on to the keepers to get help with the flying bees. Lima lima was oblivious but, when she noticed the problem, she communicated with Quanza and they all ran away towards the keepers who were also scared the bees would come towards them. Zongoloni was brave and did not go to the keepers, instead going to the mudbath to wallow as she knew that the bees could not follow her into the waterhole. Lima lima settled down well after the incident and continued to look for the keepers hide-outs. She raised her long trunk high above her head trying to get the keepers scents. She found them very quickly, hiding in the bushes from the flying bees. Sonje followed Lima lima and they joined up with Quanza and Zongoloni who were browsing together picking some flowers to eat. The keepers joked that they were flower girls, looking for Christmas flowers to give to their matriarch Murera, singing a happy Christmas song. The time came for milk and the babies were very happy, Zongoloni n was the superstar, picking up her bottles and, after finishing, dropping the empties for the keepers to pick up and put in the bucket for washing. Whilst still at the water hole area a security aeroplane passed over the elephants’ heads, making sure the security was good and the entire Kibwezi forest was safe for the babies.

19 December 2014

Murera found a very good browsing site with nice, soft grass in the early morning. Sonje was given the responsibility of taking the young ones, Lima lima and Zongoloni, around Umani hill while Quanza waited for Murera, who she did not want to leave behind to go alone. When they arrived some of the babies wanted to feed on water lilies which were looking very fresh and delicious. After that, Lima lima walked up the rocks to play on the top, Sonje thought this was a good idea and followed her to the rocky areas, finding good positions for rock scratching. Sonje stepped on the rocks followed in turn by the other babies who were fed up with being bullied by Murera. When they got there they had a great time belly-scratching and rubbing their skin and bottoms on the rough rocks. It started to rain which disrupted them and made the ground slippery so that they could not walk very fast back to the keepers, who were sheltering from the rain. Murera finally arrived with the other babies, who had remained behind to accompany her for that long walk in the wet weather.

20 December 2014

Sonje and Lima lima led the way out to Umani hill to begin the day on the slopes where they found the wild elephants had been browsing over night. They found some delicious soft acacia pods, which have not been available since the last dry season, which they enjoyed tremendously. Zongoloni and the other orphans who were walking together came across the Umani sign post. The bright gIrl, Lima lima and Quanza stopped as if to read the writing directing visitors to the Lodge. Murera was rumbling to them wondering what they were up to until they continued walking from the bushes in readiness for mudbath and milk time. Lima lima tested the water to see if it was warm enough to wallow. She splashed her legs but found it was too cold for wallowing so she left rumbling to Murera to bring the along the other babies to bathe. When Murera arrived she also tested the water, not trusting Lima lima, and was not happy when she found the water was very cold so she did not bathe and left for the bushes with her babies behind her.

21 December 2014

Murera got up in a very happy mood and immediately reached out as if she was doing some exercises. She tried to climb up the elephants loading bay after seeing Sonje doing the same. Sonje was really playful; she climbed up and kicked any object in sight that blocked her way. She got the smell of a bushbuck and turned around looking for it, quickly putting up her big ears in readiness to defend the young babies, Zongoloni and Quanza. Murera was just relaxed browsing, not caring what Sonje was trying to scare away. The herd crossed over the path and followed the keepers for a midday patrol before going for water on the broken pipelines. Wild elephants walking in the night had made some holes in the pipeline for water to drink, so the babies took advantage of the damaged pipes for clean water. From the pipeline area all the babies turned off to scratch. Murera went to a fallen log to scratch her joints and belly vigorously until she was sure that the ticks had all dropped off. When they finished scratching some of the wild bull friends arrived to make friends with the orphans for the second time this week. Murera was not sure of them and ran to the keepers, leaving the wild friends alone, who quickly disappeared on spotting her with the keepers.

22 December 2014

In the early morning the elephants followed the trail of wild elephants that had come to visit last night. They continue to visit, coming very frequently, to looking for the orphans but the babies were not lucky enough to find them this morning. Limalima rushed to the keepers leaving young Zongoloni and Quanza behind walking with Sonje who raised her trunk, still trying to smell the wild ones from the Umani hills. Murera was not bothered and was much more interested in breaking soft branches to fill her stomach. When Sonje, Zongoloni and Quanza realised they had missed the wild ones they gave up the chase and commenced browsing. They ate acacia roots, which are known for their medical qualities, then went to the natural waterhole to swim. Murera went to the tall grasslands to feed separately to the babies, who she had bullied. They ran away from her and Sonje took them for a swim. Playful Lima lima went straight on the grass to roll and rub her belly trying to dry off but then she struggled and could not get up until a keeper came to help her.

23 December 2014

Today Sonje came out as if it had been pre-planned that she would lead today. She went around keeping a close eye on the babies and making sure everything was under control. Sonje was in front, raising up her trunk to smell far into the distance for wild elephants that could divide her babies, and destroy the faith Murera had put in her to lead. The babies came together holding trunks like children getting ready to play football. Sonje took them round the Kenze hills and avoided the Umani hills where some of the wild elephants were browsing. Lima lima was trying to look for her favourite keeper who was out of sight. She tried to smell him out, curiously searching round with a raised trunk higher but to no avail. The babies then decided to go and swim because it was getting hotter. When they arrived at the swimming pool, Lima lima signalled to them to get out as some wild elephants were also coming to have a swim in the pool. The keepers were very happy with Limalima for the signal and helped everyone move away to avoid being attacked by the big bulls. However the bulls ran away after spotting the keepers, afraid that they could be in danger, so the babies continued with their mud-bathing and wallowing. Zongoloni had a great time sitting and rubbing her bottom in the mud.

24 December 2014

Sonje woke in a playful mood and went looking for the elephants loading bay. Remembering the day she was brought all the way from the nursery, she stepped up to climb over the bay. When Quanza appeared with a stick on her mouth, Sonje went to smell it to find out if she was missing out on some nice browse. Quanza continued to feed close to Sonje, and Lima lima was with Murera and Zongoloni. Some guinea fowl flew over their heads sending everyone running in all directions to try and find the keepers. Sonje became thirsty and went to drink then continued feeding. Unexpectedly the wild bull that the keepers thought had returned to his herd came back to see the babies and was spotted by Zongoloni and Lima lima. The wild bull elephant was thirsty, going for water to drink and also for a cool down. He might have been with the orphans in the bushes as they were browsing close to where he appeared. The keepers also spotted some more wild bull elephants in the forest.

25 December 2014

All the orphans took advantage of the cool of the morning to browse, each trying to get the sweetest branches before the others could. Quanza and her friend Zongoloni divided the group, separating the youngsters from the older team of Murera and Sonje. The baby group went a little way away from the older ones because of Murera’s habit of being harsh and bullying to them, even if they had done nothing wrong. Lima lima tried to edge closer to Murera but was chased away and went to the keepers to complain about her harsh treatment. Zongoloni followed Lima lima to console her. Quanza went to eat some flowering trees that had a lovely smell, but she ran away after being stung by the bees that were on the flowers. When Zongoloni realised what had happened she left the flowers and ran away for safety, then joined the rest of the herd with Murera browsing on the grasslands.

26 December 2014

The elephants were still hungry this morning despite having their milk and having returned with full bellies the night before. The babies rushed into the forest trying to quickly fill their empty stomachs. Lima lima could not settle in the bushes without her lovely keepers around her so she took Zongoloni and Quanza with her to try and find them as she could smell them some way away. Murera was waiting them at the edge of the water hole ready to wallow when babies arrived. Lima lima took the others straight into the water hole swimming while Murera stayed on the edge waiting to go in with Sonje. Sonje and Murera left the babies in the water pool wallowing, while they went to scratch and continue patrolling in the grasslands. Murera went down to scratch her belly and get rid of the ticks there but was too heavy to get back up. Sonje helped lift her with her trunk and eventually she got up and they followed Lima lima leading the others to the keepers.

27 December 2014

Sonje played with the young ones, lying down so they could climb on her. Quanza was the first to mount her and begin rubbing bellies with her. Then everyone climbed on her and she lifted them until she got fed up as they stepped on her trunk. After playtime, Quanza headed off with Sonje to the Umani hills for more greens. Sonje was not happy and kept lifting her trunk to scent the air, but all she got was buffalo smells from the surrounding bushes. Zongoloni and Lima lima dropped down the twigs they were eating to run away from the buffaloes surrounding the hills. They continued to rush all the way to the waterhole to swim as they were very hot from all the running. They began by testing water with their feet before splashing their bodies. Waterhole activities came to an end and Murera looked for the salt lick near the waterhole. She couldn’t locate it but licked her trunk as if it had salt on it. She then left for the grassland fields, enjoying the tall grass there.

28 December 2014

Limalima and Sonje decided they should all go a different way from their normal browsing route. They crossed the road going to the Kenze area up the Umani hills, then went to the lodge guests’ sun-downer spot on top of the hill. It was a lovely view, especially good when the sun sets. Lima lima was totally content eating very soft branches and sweet greens but Murera became jealous and tried to block Lima lima so she could not to finish all the lovely browse. Lima lima feeds so quickly that Murera thought she would finish all the sweet greens. Murera continued blocking Lima lima so she headed off taking the lead to the grasslands. Quanzas’s body was so itchy that she could not relax and she had to scratch her head, holding her trunk up. Sonje walked off to find more places with acacia pods to eat on the way to the waterhole. She joined the other babies who had already begun swimming. After wallowing, everyone went to the soil dusting place, where the crowned cranes came to watch them. When Zongoloni, Lima lima and Quanza saw the birds standing on the dusting soil they ran away. Sonje could not wait for the birds to go so she chased them away.

29 December 2014

Quanza was very happy today, unusually for her, welcoming everyone to play in the morning. She did try to chase Zongoloni though by blowing and trumpeting at him behind the keeper’s back who was keeping an eye on her behaviour. In the bushes she continued with big trumpets, running about and breaking down trees like the elephants do when they burying their dead. The keepers left he to it, wondering why Quanza was so playful. At the soil dusting place, Sonje took very big chunk of soil with her trunk and blew it out like the smoke from a steamship. She blew so much dust it got in the keepers eyes so they could not see. The other babies came over after seeing Murera and Sonje playing on the dust. Sonje agreed to let lucky Zongoloni climb on her and then the others too. She understood that they were just young babies and she was the one taking care of them as Murera chases them away. Zongoloni loved rubbing her belly on Sonje’s back. From the dusting place all the orphans again went to a natural water hole in the forest to play, wallowing again and again as it was too hot even under the big trees. Murera opened up her big ears, looking like a sun umbrella.

30 December 2014

Today the keepers took the babies to explore a new route around the Umani hills. They felt that Murera and Sonje should get to know the places where the wild bulls roam so later they will be able to follow their scent. Murera and Sonje did not really want to go because they did not know where they were going. The road was full of lava rocks which Murera did not like as they hurt her feet. Sonje was fine but her worry was that Murera was walking so slowly that she would be left behind on her own. The feed around the Umani hills is plentiful so it is a good place for them to get to know. It was along walk that took about four hours until milk time at the Quarry area. It was very hot and the babies were tired and needed to wallow. Zongoloni, the star of all the orphans, who no longer needs the keepers to help hold her bottles, went very quickly to the corner where she knows her bottles are placed and drank one bottle after another without spilling a drop. The orphans went up to the sun-downer spot on the top of the hill but Sonje and Murera remained below as it is a very steep hill. The wild elephants smelled the orphans whilst they were walking in the thick bushes and began to call to them, making their presence known. Lima lima sped up when she heard the wild elephants as she wanted the keepers to go quickly to the milk spot before they were blocked by the wild bulls.

31 December 2014

When the elephants were let out in the early morning they were still thinking about where they had been the day before, wanting to return and explore it all again. The wild elephants were in their way and Murera was afraid of them so she stopped and waited for the keepers. Sonje came to find Murera and show her the way to the keepers. The wild families ran off to the bushes on realising that the orphans were with humans who they associate with poaching. The babies stopped to browse when Lima lima and Zongoloni found some soft branches to pick. Sonje took Zongoloni on to the signpost for Umani springs and Zongoloni looked at the post as if she could read on the writing. They took a break and stopped feeding as their bellies were full with only a little space left for milk. The plan was to go and splash after the bottle-feeding then dust bathe. Zongoloni entertained the lodge guests by holding on to her milk bottle until she got to the dusting soil before dropping it. When Sonje went down in the soil Zongoloni jumped on her. The other babies enjoyed the warmth from the soil lying in it like sleeping babies on the ground.