Keepers' Diaries, December 2015

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Umani Springs is our most recent Relocation Unit, just a year and a half old, primarily built in the gentle environment of Kibwezi Forest to provide a haven and a wild life for some of the orphans who remain slightly compromised by injuries - for example Murera and Sonje, or for our little albino baby boys Jasiri and Faraja whose paler skin would suffer from the fierce sunlight of Tsavo where there is also little shade during the long dry seasons. We knew that Kibwezi forest would be a special place for our compromised orphans to live and slowly assimilate back into living a wild life, but we never imagined it would transform into quite such a paradise.

01 December 2015

Ngasha exited the stockades with Lima Lima and they proceeded to cut grass using their trunks and feet then shaking it to remove the earth and quickly placing it in their mouths. There was an urgency to their feeding, savouring the lovely fresh green grass abundant throughout the forest thanks to the rain. The others approached Murera who was silently foraging at her own pace and she appeared uninterested and undisturbed the very pushy babies, particularly Zongoloni and Jasiri. Murera did get a fright when she heard the keepers shouting her name loudly. She immediately raised her big ears, trying to identify the place and the where the voices were coming from. She was slightly annoyed as she had just got a very sweet branch to chew, but she obeyed and followed where they were guiding her. In the late evening the time to walk home had arrived. When the babies almost reached their stockades it was then very hard to divide the group into two, so that Murera, Sonje and Ziwa could remain. Ziwa and Sonje did not want to remain behind nor Lima Lima wanted to agree to be in the last group thinking that her milk bottles would be taken by Quanza; Quanza is very good girl though and knows how to count her bottles, after having her normal two bottles, she goes to the water trough or steps aside for the greens on the ground to keep herself busy and wait for her roommate Lima Lima to come. The greedy Lima Lima tried all she could until she actually managed it; she found a short cut path to the side and took off so quickly before the keeper could stop her and charged into the stockades ahead of the rest!

02 December 2015

Since the rainy season began, wild elephants have reduced their movements around the stockade, as we feel sure they are moving further afield. They seem to have moved up to the Chyulu Hills across undulating grass lands and into beautiful mist forests. The forest now is very bushy with long grass, only Murera with her little family browse around the Umani Hills and near the water springs. Even the orphans do not walk as far now though, like they used to have to during the dry season sometime back. Murera and Sonje like taking their babies around the Umani Hill circuit, while Quanza and Lima Lima turn away leading the big herd to their side. Murera stopped browsing and looked around to see where the keepers were but could only smell them, then she put her head down again to browse after knowing that her keepers were just close by. Zongoloni and Sonje were heading to Ziwa; Ziwa felt so comfortable walking between the two matriarchs who were putting their trunks on him. Within a short time, it started to drizzle lightly for a little while before stopping. Ziwa found it necessary to roll on the wet ground in the wet earth and he had a lovely time.

03 December 2015

Jasiri came out of the bushes, charging the butterflies which he was unable to catch or knock down with his trunk but he spent a good long time trying but eventually he fell to the ground when his foot got stuck behind a stone. He stopped there to look at what happened to him as the butterflies continued to fly over his head. When he got up the running and chasing of the butterflies began again, and then Zongoloni joined him with Ngasha. It was so lovely to watch this jewel coloured butterflies, greens, blues, oranges and white, the delicate and the stocky and sturdy with the delicate winning everytime. Quanza came out from the forests with very loud trumpets and looking so excited. With her roommate Lima Lima they led the other babies to move to another place with fresher branches on the slopes of the Umani Hill. Ngasha on the other side took his own way, foraging towards the waterhole in readiness for the milk bottles. It started to rain again and the orphans saw their keepers putting on their raincoats. Ziwa went closer to the keepers with rain coats and was trying to fit his head under the raincoats but could not fit in well and so left to find Murera and Sonje’s big bellies to cover his head. Zongoloni got it right when she went to a keeper who had an Umbrella that covered part of his body. Meanwhile the big group of orphans were taking cover under the big trees all around them.

04 December 2015

The moment the babies walked out from their stockade in the morning to begin their day long patrol in the forest, all were extremely playful. They stopped at the elephant loading bay and took some time playing there; stepping on top of the loading area as Sonje and Zongoloni stood upfront, looking at some of their friends from above while some of the orphans were scratching their bodies on the walls to remove the ticks. Murera could not jump down to join them like the other babies were doing due to her bad leg. The naughty boys Faraja and Ngasha began their game of pushing each other as a test to know who is stronger. Ngasha found it very hard to push Faraja back, then he decided to mount on him after realising that it was very hard for him to fight him. At the bottle feeding point, Jasiri and Zongoloni rushed there to grab their bottles before the keepers could even help them!

05 December 2015

All the babies went into the forest celebrating the fresh greens. Sonje and Ziwa were browsing very close to Murera who was eating some acacia pods and tubers that they were picking up using their trunks. A keeper shouted loudly the names of Murera and Sonje to confirm where they were, and they responded to the keepers with big rumbles, before walking over to them where they were walking behind Lima Lima. The day long patrols continued up to the Chyulu mountains with Lima Lima and Quanza leading the other group to the hills. Ziwa stopped and started to behave like the very young boy of the herd; as he was walking through the forest he found some old elephants dung and began to eat the dried grass that had passed through the wild elephant tummies to tell what vegetation they had been eating so he could eat more of the same.

06 December 2015

All the babies were happy to be out in the forest enjoying the fresh greens. Sonje and Ziwa were very close to Murera who did want to move away from that area as she found some seed pods and some tubers, that she was digging using her feet. A keeper shouted Murera’s name [Murera Murera] and Sonje responded so quickly, running to her human family who were calling for Murera to follow them. The day long patrols continued to the Chyulu Hills, with Lima Lima and Quanza leading them and the Keepers behind, looking curiously how Lima Lima and Quanza led the herd. More fresh greens could be found on the Chyulu Hills where wild elephants had migrated since the rain started recently.

07 December 2015

When Ziwa saw his adopted mother Sonje going to lie down on the ground and start rubbing her belly, he decided to start mounting on her back. Sonje is just happy with her adopted baby Ziwa and did not push him off after raising her head and realising it was just Ziwa; she relaxed and continued rubbing her belly with Ziwa on top of her back. After some communication between Murera and Sonje the whole herd decided to move to another location with fresher grass. Within a very short time all of the babies came together again under the shade of the big trees, waiting for the vehicle carrying their bottles. Zongoloni and Jasiri went with Lima Lima but the two went straight to grab their two bottles as Lima Lima finished her bottles and tried to grab more than her share. From there all babies went to the wallowing waterhole, but before beginning to wallow a small baby crocodile ran away from just outside the water and jumped inside, creating a splash that the orphans all saw. This meant they decided to not wallow and instead turn away to browse, fearing what they did not even see!

08 December 2015

As the orphans were patrolling along the forest paths, Murera came across a fallen tree with its roots hanging in the air. She used it to scratch her head and around the shoulder and as she continued to scratch a squirrel came from the tree she was using for scratching her back and started running along her back. She immediately stopped scratching, appeared very disconcerted and immediately ran away from the tree, looking for the keepers for comfort. The squirrel took a flying leap off her back fearing for his life. When Zongoloni saw Murera running so quickly towards her, Zongoloni went straight to Murera and held her trunk as if they were communicating very silently; the keepers thought that Zongoloni might have been asking Murera what happened to her at the fallen big tree which she walked away from so hurriedly. Murera didn’t know what happened though, only that she felt something walking down her back but could not see it.

09 December 2015

The orphans were very playful in the early morning, rolling on the wet earth following the heavy rain that fell overnight, making the ground very slippery. Whenever the orphans tried to run they would fall down, but they seemed to really enjoy that. The naughty boys Faraja and Ngasha enjoyed pushing each other as they normally like to do; like teenage boys who normally like to try out their strength these two kept at it for a good long time. Jasiri kept Lima Lima busy running away as he wanted to mount on her but Lima Lima did not like that and kept running away from him. Lima Lima had no option of where to go but decided to run away towards the keepers to give her some protection from pesky Jasiri. When Jasiri saw Lima Lima heading to the keepers he stopped and turned away knowing that the game was up. When Jasiri was stopped by the keepers from bugging Lima Lima, Jasiri turned his frustrations towards a log of wood that was lying on the ground blocking his way in the tall grass. After he had finished pushing, and breaking it up it he used it to scratch his head.

10 December 2015

The trumpeting noise of wild elephants was heard within the undergrowth close to where the orphans were playing next to the stockades early in the morning. There was echo through the forest canopy. The babies stopped and listened to the loud trumpets, all silent detecting the direction. Lima Lima and Zongoloni took off thinking that they were now big enough to go and join their wild friends. Sonje followed them and later found that the wild elephants were running away from the orphans. The keepers also followed them but a safe distance behind. Sonje and Quanza brought them back to their keepers who were deep inside the forest waiting for them with Murera, who is always reluctant to fraternize with the big bulls. As the bottle feeding time approached, Jasiri stopped what he was doing and stood in the grassy field looking in the direction that the little susuki vehicle would travel with the milk in the back. He kept looking longingly hopeful that his savoured milk would come earlier than usual. When they saw the vehicle, Jasiri together with Lima Lima hurtled towards the bottles, making it difficult for the Keepers to separate or split them into groups facilitating easy management of feeding time. Jasiri and Lima Lima had jumped the gun! Murera and Sonje came at a sensible pace waiting for their turn with their baby boy Ziwa who came last. Ziwa is doing so well, he is in beautiful condition, a very big change from the desperate condition he returned to Nairobi in having gone down hill when first trans-located to Ithumba. The more gentle environment of Umani Springs has suited him perfectly, and here too he has found two adoring mummies.

11 December 2015

Body scratching was the order of the day when all the babies came out looking for the scratching materials they could find around them. Quanza walked to the scratching rock with Murera going a different way looking for a big tree that would fit her strength. Ngasha went to the scratching post to scratch his itchy belly. Sonje kept the other orphans busy playing with her, then she went to lie down on the ground for the young babies to climb over her back to play with her. The keepers started to call the orphans back to follow them into the forest but instead Zongoloni took all the orphans to the waterhole after feeling the hot weather was coming on. They all liked the idea of going to the waterhole to cool down their bodies, so the Keepers followed. When Murera and Sonje felt it was time to leave, they pushed Ziwa ahead so that they could make sure he was with them and safe in front, as they headed to the Umani hills, through flat top acacia stands feeding on browse and lovely soft long grass. Food and tasty flowers abundant everywhere. For us Keepers we take our rests on rocky outcrops or under trees and watch and appreciate the beauty of this special place, and marvel at how lucky we are to be immersed in a herd of elephants, experiencing their daily activities and knowing their love and trust.

12 December 2015

Murera and Sonje took off for the early morning patrols as they were ready to begin their happy day. Sonje came to Murera urging her to join her cross over the road to the Umani water springs area; a beautiful place filled with the Kibwezi palm trees and a variety of other fresh vegetation suitable for the young babies. Lima Lima and Zongoloni together with the remaining orphans scratched their necks on the recently built signpost as Angela has planned some lovely scenic game drive routes through the forest for our visitors to enjoy. The natural rock lava signposts are a popular rubbing spot for the orphans! The orphans waited for the Keepers who were slower and lagging behind and while waiting reveled in the dusty road. At bottle feeding time, Ngasha left the area so quickly followed by Faraja, running all the way to the dusting soil pile. When Ngasha reached the dusting soil he immediately began rolling around making a great game, slipping down the sides and generally having a ball. The two crane birds that usually join the orphans during mudbath time shouted as they flew up high away from the dusting point. Ngasha and Faraja stopped what they were doing and ran away from the birds, frightened by their call which was surprising as the birds live there, and they usually call daily to each other so it is a sound the orphans are well use to by now. We suspect that the crane family have a nest and eggs in the swamp reeds somewhere just like they did last year. We came across that nest and then carefully made sure the orphans did not pass in that directly as we did not want to see their eggs compromised.

13 December 2015

Ngasha began his day by walking all the way to the Umani swamp circuits’ with his friend Faraja walking slowly behind him. There they enjoyed their time knee deep in water eating the swamp grass. Ziwa was scratching near Sonje and Murera while on the left side there was Jasiri squeezing his body to get some space to accommodate his big tummy in between his two friends who were playfully rolling on the wet and slippery earth. Sonje was very happy sitting on her bottom with a big smile on her face. The orphans began raising their trunks, especially Murera and Sonje, directing them towards the bushes. The keepers tried to look at what they might be smelling around that tree but no one could see anything. Later, on the branch of the tree, we spotted a leopard resting on a big branch in the tree with its eyes closed in a deep sleep. Later it would probably be targeting the bush bucks walking to the waterhole area, as the bushbuck population over the years has multiplied significantly. When Murera noticed the leopard at the same time as the keepers, everyone decided to leave and walk away to give the leopard its space, and not disturb his slumber.

14 December 2015

Following the rain that continued throughout the night the ground remained extremely wet when the orphans left their night stockades. Sonje and Lima Lima and Ngasha were happy with the situation. They found it necessary to roll on the slippery earth covering their whole body with mud, even their eyes; every part was fully covered with dark muddy soil and all around their faces. It made it quite difficult for the keepers to tell them apart! After playing on the wet earth, all the orphans continued looking for the soft grass in the open fields to forage on, enjoying the suns rays as they broke through the cloud. Ngasha felt his body get very itchy and looked around to find something to help him scratch his neck. He found a very good rock and placed his neck on it and enjoyed a lengthy scratch.

15 December 2015

The good day began for the babies as soon as the gate was opened for the orphans to come out from their night stockades. Murera and Sonje went straight to Ziwa’s pen to go and say Jambo to him before they could walk outside the main gate. The waited for him to exit and other they walked him and their other babies out, walking so fast the keepers wondered what might be wrong with them today; all of them were raising their trunks high above their heads smelling. Zongoloni, Lima Lima and the other boys did not wait after realising that the smell coming from the bushes was of a wild bull elephant. He was a very big bull elephant, and today he came to try and make friends with Murera’s herd; now the wild elephants are beginning to trust our babies and believe in the keepers who they had been very fearful of in the past, making it hard for the babies to interact with them in the wild. Sonje and Lima Lima were very brave enough and very happy to join the wild bull friend who visited them today. The bull elephant was so friendly and no one expected that from the wild bull, who was so huge. Even after seeing the keepers he did not run away but instead he came and joined Jasiri and Faraja who so tiny compared to their new friend. We could see their hero worship grow as just standing close to him filled the baby bulls with pride.

16 December 2015

The bushy forest was very quiet with only shouting cranes and trumpeter hornbills heard calling loudly in the forests. The buffaloes had started to come out from the bushes, walking to where the orphans were foraging. They almost came to meet with the babies who were rolling on the wet mud that was so slippery; the babies could not get up and move away fast enough because of the slippery, wet mud. Ngasha tried to get up but kept slipping. Soon our babies were surrounded by the buffalo looking on with interest. We Keepers kept a safe distance. When the babies walked to the feeding point and finished with the bottle feeding, Lima Lima went to the waterhole trying to see if the water was warm enough. When she got to the water it felt very cold to her; no one wallowed in it because it was too cold, only clearly the wild elephants had been wallowing there the night before. All the orphans then followed Lima Lima to the forest for more daylong patrols, feeding on the soft branches available, and us Keepers trailed behind to make sure that they remained confident and secure in our presence.

17 December 2015

Well behaved Zongoloni and Ziwa took off leading the other babies towards the grassland area where they were looking for the soft grass to forage on. Zongoloni sometimes misbehaves and try to push Ziwa away but today she was very well behaved, giving Ziwa more confidence to walk together her and not necessarily with Murera or Sonje. The big herd was divided into two groups: Zongoloni who took on Ziwa around the forest while Lima Lima teamed up with the others and foraged together. Quanza and some of the others had a funny moment scratching their bottoms on a fallen tree within the forest. Ziwa and Zongoloni continued browsing together away from their friends; no one knew why they were closer than ever. Murera and Sonje were not bothered as to where their baby Ziwa was, but were happy with Zongoloni to be with him. Murera stopped to roll on the wet soil, putting some mud around her face and covering her whole body with mud. The other babies also had their busy time dusting with the wet soil, Murera relaxed so nicely there and soon, fell asleep.

18 December 2015

Wild elephants came to the stockades in the morning to see the babies, before they had even come out to start their day. Quanza was very willing to go and join the wild elephants but lacked an escort. Lima Lima today did not want to follow them but she turned, afraid of them, and ran to her keepers and the other matriarchs for refuge, possibly remembering the times the wild bulls were not so nice to her. Lima Lima was signalling Murera and the other keepers not to go but keep away from the wild elephants. Murera was not also completely happy with the wild elephants because of their pushy characters that might not go well with her limping legs. She ran away from the wild elephants leaving Sonje and Ziwa on their own while the keepers struggled to get Murera back to the herd, but Murera was charging heading towards the Chyulu Hills and did not want to come back to where the wild elephants were.

19 December 2015

Faraja took off walking to his friends who were browsing far away from him, after realizing that he had been left quite far behind. He found Murera foraging on the swampy grassland fields flapping her ears very happily near Zongoloni. Sonje and Quanza continued their patrols together, selecting very fresh areas with good soft fresh branches to enjoy before ending their long day. As the patrols continued, the elephants came head on with a monitor lizard running from the bushes, trying not to be stepped on by the elephant’s crossing over. Before the babies could get a good sighting they sensed the reptile and Quanza, Jasiri and Zongoloni came running to us Keepers frightened by the moment, only the keepers seemed to get a good visual on what it actually was and we managed to calm them down quickly.

20 December 2015

Ziwa was looking forward to the new day with all other babies, struggling to get the soft branches into his mouth as fast as possible. Ngasha on the side was flapping his open ears to cool himself in the hot weather, vigorously cooling his body. Before the midday bottle feeding, Murera and Sonje were left behind with their baby boy Ziwa walking slowly, while the other young babies ran quickly to the bottle feeding area and went straight for their bottles. Lima Lima was the first one to reach there of all the babies, she always takes the shortest path in order to avoid the keepers blocking her way to the bottles. As Murera and Sonje were left walking to the others for bottle feeding, they smelt that the wild friendly elephant bull was around. Murera got the scent and Sonje also raised her trunk to try and get the smell. Murera knew who it was immediately and turned to change direction to avoid the wild elephant. Murera in her mind thinks that the wild bull has the intention of grabbing her herd to take them away. Quanza and Jasiri tried to follow him but it was not easy for them to go without the matriarchs who were turning and moving away from the wild friend. The keepers tried to make Murera and Sonje stay to greet this new friend but they turned more aggressive and were not listening to their human families any more.

21 December 2015

Sonje found herself very busy carrying babies on her back because every one was ready to play with her in the morning. All the babies were happy jumping on her back with Jasiri trying to mount on her too thinking that he was the dominant boy in the family. Ziwa was also trying hard to mount on her back but he is still very short and could not reach Sonje’s back because she is so big now. She is such a lovely elephant with all the time in the world to play with the little one. The keepers brought the orphans to the bottle feeding point. Lima Lima always runs so fast ahead and when she sees the keepers blocking her way she diverts to the different path. They try to hold her back because whenever she goes ahead of all the babies she finished her bottle first and then tries to grab the other elephants’ bottles!

22 December 2015

This morning the boys were very playful and naughty. Jasiri started the game followed by Quanza and Lima Lima who were trying to scratch their itchy belies on their other friends who were lying down on the ground. Faraja got it very rough after the heavy weight Jasiri fell on his back, lying on him. On the other side was Quanza lying on Ngasha’s back. The two were so heavy that neither Ngasha nor Faraja could sustain their weights and they both shouted out to call Sonje or Murera to come and help them push away. The noise Ngasha and Faraja made on the ground scared Sonje and she ran there with Murera to help the screaming babies on the ground. When Sonje got there she began by pushing Jasiri away and then turned to Quanza; Faraja and Ngasha then got up and ran away from the scene, happy to be free.

23 December 2015

Quanza came out charging the rowdy monkeys that were jumping in the tops of the trees making very loud noises to her. When Zongoloni saw that Quanza was charging at them, she came out trumpeting too whilst shaking her big ears to try and scare the monkeys away, who were up there shouting to their friends after seeing a leopard jump on the rocks on the other side of the small forest (but the elephants did not know that)! The pushy boys were not bothered by the noise and they continued with their wrestling match trying out their strength. Jasiri then followed Murera to the scratching wall which has a very rough surface to help them scratch the insects off. When Murera was satisfied after a long scratch she walked away heading to forests towards the Chyulu Hills, whispering to Sonje and Ziwa to follow her, when they heard this all the babies responded very quickly and followed the matriarch towards the hills.

24 December 2015

Jasiri pushed Ziwa today and found that he was very strong, not easy to push around like he used to be; today when he pushed Ziwa, Ziwa also pushed back very hard giving Jasiri a hard time - the little boy is growing up it seems! Murera stood nearby watching how Jasiri was trying to push Ziwa, she was ready to charge to help Ziwa from being injured by Jasiri, but Ziwa defeated Jasiri in the end! Forcing him to leave the game and walk away to the other orphans. Some of the babies had already left very quickly, making a very straight line walking to the bush. Faraja took on leading the babies in a different direction which Murera did not expect. As they continued walking towards the dusting soil, Lima Lima was very playful, rolling down and sitting on her bottom as the others walked passed her. When Ngasha and Faraja saw Lima Lima on the ground rolling, they turned to climb on her back so that she could not get up and walk with the others. When they reached on the dusting soil they all had very wonderful time. Murera stood waiting for her friend Ziwa to finish playing in the soil so that they could walk home together.

25 December 2015

It was very wonderful and a good day for all of us, the Keepers and the orphan babies, having mama Daphne with Angela and Robert and the boys on a special day like this, Christmas Day; it was wonderful for everyone to meet Mama Daphne who is our matriarch of the project. All the babies assembled by the keepers at mudbath for milk and to see Daphne again - everyone was very joyful with big smiles on their faces greeting mama. After finishing her bottle, Lima Lima walked to mama’s vehicle and raised up her trunk, blowing and inspecting mama’ scent. All the other babies became very jealous and wanted to put their trunks on her too. It was a very wonderful day for all. The brilliant Zongoloni and Jasiri tried to steal the show. They grabbed the bottles on the ground and ran with them like naughty babies to the where the vehicle carrying mama was parked in the shade.

26 December 2015

Zongoloni went running into the forest, very playfully digging up some dust using her tiny tusks and also using the opportunity to sharpen them on the ground. Then she used her toes to dig more and used her trunk to throw some of the dust on her back. Murera and Quanza continued with patrols all the way to the top of the Umani hills, where the wild elephants liked to browse. Murera did not climb to the top and instead remained on the slopes while Quanza managed to go much further, starting to get a smell from the wild elephants that were around there. At the time of bottle feeding Quanza with the help of Lima Lima brought the orphans back, with Lima Lima running so hard to make sure she was the first one there before any of the others. She came running in as if she was in a marathon! Murera and her adopted baby boy Ziwa came in slowly to arrive late behind all the others. When Lima Lima saw them having their bottle late, she went to hide her head under Murera’s big ears trying grab an extra bottle from behind, but even with this sneaky trick she did not manage.

27 December 2015

After a very happy Christmas week, all the elephants got a great moment to feast as the keepers collected some seed pods for all the babies to share as a lovely Christmas feast. Lima Lima smelt the bucket with the seed pods and before the keepers could pour them for the babies, Lima Lima ran and grabbed the bucket and disappeared with it into the bushes, leaving the keepers chasing after her to leave some for the other babies, but Lima Lima thought the whole bucket was for her alone! After catching Lima Lima and managing to share the remaining pods, the keepers feasted in style as well for their Christmas celebration. Ngasha then showed his funny character by mounting on the other elephant’s backs. He ended up mounting on his friend Jasiri, the dominant boy in the family, and then he and Jasiri started tussling, wrestling, trying out their body strength. While continuing to wrestle and within no time at all they both ran deep in the forest to disappear from the keepers who wanted to separate them from their game. After all that, the babies went on a very long patrol again following Murera and Ziwa to the dusting soil for more fun there and to fill up their stomachs with greens and pods; a few of them started to relax peacefully after dusting.

28 December 2015

The elephants left their night stockades in a hurry, running to get out to the scratching rocks to scratch their bottoms, even on the big trees and on the loading bay wall, you could see most of the orphans running to those spots. Ziwa followed Ngasha, which was a mistake. When Ngasha looked back and saw Ziwa was following him, he started to push him back but today he found Ziwa was ready and so strong that he could not push him like he was expecting to be able to do. After the long day patrols, Ngasha came to the dusting soil area with other orphans following him, not very interested with dusting but busy looking for the natural salts on the ground. Some bush bucks were waiting nearby for the elephants to leave so that they also could get some of the salts with their young ones. In the late afternoon when the orphans were walking in a line to go back home for the evening bottle feed, the two bulls who are waiting to become the orphans’ friends were also walking nearby in the forest following the babies. When they heard the keepers shouting the name of Murera they all went away but later came back in the night to watch them from outside the fence.

29 December 2015

In the early morning, when Murera came out from the stockade, many white butterflies were flying in front of her on the way to the bushes. She stood looking at them for awhile and then started to charge them, turning around and rolling her trunk on the ground to get ready and get the butterflies. When she began trumpeting so loudly Sonje and Ziwa also got the signal, and came to chase butterflies too. Ngasha had a very itchy bottom and looked around only to find a small rock lying near him, which he went to scratch on. After finishing that exercise Ngasha walked to follow the other babies who had left him behind and already disappeared into the bushes. He started rumbling because he needed to find the direction everyone had moved in. He could not locate them so he began to rumble and scream so that his keepers could hear him and call him. When the keepers called Ngasha he arrived trumpeting and charging, which made the other babies start to scream and charge, breaking all the small trees around them.

30 December 2015

When Quanza reached the forest to join her friends she found a big tree blocking her way, pushed down by their big, wild friends who had visited over night. When she got the smell of the wild elephants on the tree, Quanza felt happy and used the same fallen tree for scratching her body. Murera followed her on the other side to scratch her shoulders and kill some insects on her body. As the babies continued to browse throughout the day, two stray buffaloes came out of nowhere behind the orphans and no one knew they were there. Ngasha, Zongoloni, and Lima Lima are very attentive and raised their trunks in the air. After locating the buffaloes they ran towards the keepers and Murera to tell them about the buffaloes that were following behind them. The young boys started trumpeting, a sound which reached all over the forest, and the orphans left running for mud bath time leaving the buffaloes stranded behind.

31 December 2015

On the last day of the year ending 2015, all the babies were very well behaved including the naughty boys who behaved so nicely. Everyone was very busy filling up their stomachs with a wide variety of vegetation surrounding them. Most of the day the babies spent wallowing in the water pool, cooling down their temperature with mud covering their bodies. Beside the water hole some bees were flying to look for water to help them make honey. When Zongoloni heard the bees buzzing around her back she started running away to the forest to hide within the big trees, with the keepers and other babies following her to hide their heads so as not to be stung. When the bees left the atmosphere was calm again and the orphans went back to wallow and have fun in the dusting soil.