Keepers' Diaries, December 2020

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

There was a lot of hype and activity within the Kibwezi Forest this month and our orphans were in the thick of things. We had a few visiting wild elephants, and one night the orphans were treated to a cacophony of trumpeting. Whatever it was about was evidently very exciting, as the orphans barely finished their Lucerne pellets in the morning before rushing out to investigate where the wild elephants had been. What they found was evidence that a baby elephant had been born in the forest during the night, and the orphans spent some time mulling over the intriguing smells to be found where the wonderful event had occurred; what an important wild lesson for our hand-raised elephant orphans honing their wild instincts.

01 December 2020

The orphans had a wonderful start to their day and it only seemed to get better as they moved through the forests and hills finding plenty of delicious green foliage to feast on.

Lima Lima was the leader of the herd and as they were moving through the Kibwezi Forest she suddenly stopped abruptly, signaling the Keepers that something was amiss. Murera and Sonje, sensing that there might be danger up ahead, quickly rounded up Luggard and moved away to a safe distance. As the Keepers walked up to where Lima Lima was she drew their attention up to a tree, where a leopard was feasting on his fresh kill, a bushbuck. Posing no real threat as the leopard was so engrossed in enjoying his feast, the Keepers backed off with the orphans and re-routed their path through another part of the forest.

Lima Lima continues to be an ever vigilant member of the herd. At night too, the Keepers can always count on Lima Lima to alert them if anything seems out of the ordinary. This is Lima Lima’s special skill, one that the Keepers have come to rely on very much indeed.

02 December 2020

When it started raining heavily this morning the Keepers thought they might have to keep Luggard back at the stockade compound while the others went out to browse. When Lima Lima and Murera realized that Luggard was locked inside however they didn’t like that one bit and they refused to leave until Luggard came with them, rumbling and yelling in protest. Eventually the Keepers conceded and decided to let Luggard out to join the big girls, or else they would have to be shut inside with him! Either way it was certain they could not be separated.

At the water hole today Shukuru spotted a buffalo walking towards her. She rumbled to the others for back up and Lima Lima was the first to respond, followed by Mwashoti. Lima Lima began pushing the buffalo back with her ears held up wide and Mwashoti, who can trumpet loudly, blew such a loud trumpet that scared the buffalo so he retreated back to the forest. After all the excitement of pushing the buffalo away Mwashoti and Quanza became very hyper and started charging about in the bushes, stamping and kicking them down and running about here and there, and the Keepers just watched on in amusement until the two tired themselves out and went back to browsing.

03 December 2020

The six night-clubbers are slowly developing unique visiting times to visit their dependent friends. Lately Zongoloni and the three boys Faraja, Jasiri and Ziwa tend to visit the Keepers and other orphans at the stockades at night, sometimes together with a wild female friend who has a little baby which Zongoloni likes to try and baby sit! Then as dawn approaches and the Keepers start to prepare the milk bottles, Zongoloni and the others walk back off into the forest and then leaving Alamaya and Ngasha to spend time with the dependent Umani babies.

Murera and Sonje have been unhappy with Ngasha recently as he keeps trying to climb on little Enkesha, which the Keepers tell him off for doing as well and send him away. Sonje and Murera team up together to stop Ngasha and let him know that if he wants to stay around the herd then he can’t be misbehaving like that! The two matriarchs are very happy to stand up to Ngasha and send him away if they have to. Perhaps this is why he and Alamaya are no longer with Zongoloni and her herd; if they had been misbehaving like this then Zongoloni wouldn’t have hesitated to send him away and push him out of that herd too.

04 December 2020

What began as a little game between Mwashoti and Alamaya today soon turned into a real fight which none of us were expecting to happen. Mwashoti and Alamaya were best friends before Alamaya left to become more independent with Zongoloni’s herd. It might have been bad luck as well as Alamaya accidentally poked Mwashoti near his eye with his sharp tusks, then Mwashoti retaliated by holding the stump of Alamaya’s tail, which he knows Alamaya absolutely hates. Then things escalated and the real fight began. Sonje walked over with Quanza to separate them but Mwashoti insisted and later pushed Alamaya down, and this is when the Keepers ran over and helped resolve the situation. Alamaya got up from the ground but he looked very upset and still angry with Mwashoti as he walked off. 

Whilst that was going on, Shukuru, Luggard and Lima Lima stayed far away, leaving the boys to sort out their own issues and so as not to get caught up in the fracas. After a short while Mwashoti decided not to take the fight any further as he knew he had better get back to browsing in order to have enough food and not go hungry, so he walked off to the bushes and carried on browsing until it was time to return home for the day.

05 December 2020

Shukuru today climbed the Umani Hill today right up to the highest point before turning and looking down to see if she could see Murera, Luggard and the others all down below. When she thought that the others wouldn’t be able to see her very well she blew a loud trumpet. The Keepers were worried that she had lost her way and that was why she was trumpeting, but really she was just letting everyone know where she was and that she was looking down on them! When Enkesha, being a very outgoing little girl, heard Shukuru trumpeting she navigated her way through the bushes to go and see if she could find her on top of the hill, and when she found her the two carried on browsing together. Perhaps Shukuru had been calling Enkesha all along with her loud trumpets, to come and join her. 

Ngasha and Alamaya came along to join the Umani herd and Murera and Sonje decided to keep Luggard very close to them so that Ngasha and Alamaya wouldn’t be able to play with him as they might be too rough. Lima Lima joined them as well to help them in looking after little Luggard. 

A baboon walked past where Alamaya and Mwashoti were busy picking some branches to eat and they decided to chase him all the way back to where the rest of his troop was. Alamaya and Mwashoti, now having seemingly made up since their fight the other day, celebrated their triumph in sending all the baboons back up into the trees by running about excitedly. 

06 December 2020

Lima Lima hurt her leg some time back by spraining it, perhaps from some of the older bulls trying to climb on her, but now she is much better and back to running about. She happily runs for her milk bottles again and can move about freely, but these days she does avoid the boys like Alamaya, Jasiri, Ngasha, Faraja and Ziwa in case they decide to be too rough and she hurts her leg again. At the mud bath today when Lima Lima spotted them coming to swim, she moved away and gave them space just like Shukuru does. She doesn’t like the way those older boys try to climb on the others, which is something all those independent bulls do now, and she would rather avoid that especially now her leg might give her some trouble. 

In fact the five big bulls are being warned all the time now when they are around the little ones. They are copying the older wild bulls they meet in the forest and like climbing on the girls in the dependent herd now, but Murera and Sonje won’t stand for that kind of behaviour and send them away. They know how harshly they will be disciplined by Murera, so they aren’t always so badly behaved and can sometimes browse peacefully with the Umani dependent babies too. 

07 December 2020

The orphans had very nice time together in the Kibwezi Forest from morning to afternoon. In the morning at the junction to the Chyulu Hills, Lima Lima stopped and Ngasha walked up to request that they go in the direction that he knows but Lima Lima ignored him and went to pick her friend Luggard with Murera to guide them in the opposite direction that Ngasha wanted to go for their daylong patrol. Ngasha relented and followed along with his friend Alamaya.

When the orphans arrived at the big water hole later on they all had a fabulous time swimming, with Ngasha showing off all the new talent he has learnt from being amongst wild elephants. Then Lima Lima, Murera and Quanza represented the girls in the swimming competition and they had such fun as well. Shukuru stayed away from the swimming teams she just watched as she didn’t want to get involved in all the excitement She felt happy watching Mwashoti having such fun in the water too. 

After all the babies were tired of swimming they came out and had a rest under a big tree, before Sonje came out with Enkesha and then the whole herd started moving towards the Chyulu area to continue browsing, followed by their loving Keepers. 

08 December 2020

The night-clubbers have started visiting the orphans at night now. They come to the stockades with their wild friends and drink from the water trough there and mess around outside the compound fence. At first the Keepers thought they were avoiding them, and then they considered that the independent group might actually be being considerate to bring their wild friends at night instead of during the day, when they might charge or be aggressive towards the Keepers. When they come with wild friends during the day it upsets Murera as well as she worries about Luggard. We think perhaps they want Murera to join them in the forest too, but for now she wouldn’t ever consider leaving Luggard. Luggard yells out when any of the other orphans like Jasiri try to walk away with his Murera and as we know, she doesn’t like leaving him either. 

Today Alamaya was browsing close to Shukuru but when Ziwa and Faraja came to greet him she excused herself to leave them alone, until Alamaya and Faraja walked away together into the forest. We later heard lots of loud rumbling elephants within the Kibwezi Forest where the independent orphans must have found some wild friends to play with. 

09 December 2020

Jasiri arrived today with Zongoloni and as she approached the Umani orphans she walked straight over to greet Enkesha. She put her trunk close to Enkesha as if to smell what she was eating and then for some reason she turned to the Keeper close by and stretched her trunk out to him in warning; this isn’t something she has done before and isn’t her usual character, and it was as if she was copying the wild elephants she has been spending so much time with. 

At the noon bottle feeding time the six night-clubbers didn’t show up, bearing in their mind they now know they won’t receive any milk bottles, which gave Lima Lima and Murera a very peaceful time with Luggard and the other babies. 

At the waterhole after having their bottles, Lima Lima tested the water with her trunk before rumbling to the others to join her for swimming as the temperature was great. When Sonje and Murera saw Lima Lima enjoying the water they left Luggard with Shukuru at the edge of the water hole and watched him while they swam; hopefully Luggard will be able to join them too one day.

10 December 2020

Jasiri hasn’t been very consistent in his visits, he sometimes disappears for a while and when he returns he displays some rather odd behavior. It seems as though his wild friends might be having an influence on him.

He arrived today looking very boisterous and right away both Murera and Sonje were wary of his presence. He started to walk towards both the girls, but since Luggard was with them, both Murera and Sonje moved away, to a safer distance, not sure of Jasiri’s mood and wanting to protect their little boy. After a while Jasiri’s intentions became known as he pursued Murera with the intention of mounting her. Murera, very much aware of her hip injury tried her best to dissuade the teenage bull, but Jasiri was quite persistent. Luggard watched Jasiri run after Murera, in what looked like a game of catch, with Jasiri chasing Murera, Luggard looked around to see whom he could browse with and luckily Lima Lima was nearby and quick to comforted Luggard and take him under her wing. Finally after some intervention from the Keepers, Jasiri gave up on his pursuit of Murera and took off towards the forest.

The only night clubber who was welcomed with much excitement was Zongoloni. As soon as Enkesha spotted her older friend, she ran towards her and the two spent quite a bit of time browsing together. When it was time for Zongoloni to rejoin Faraja and the other night clubbers, Enkesha walked her friend up to a distance and then turned back to join the Umani herd who were also on their way home.

11 December 2020

Ziwa, Faraja and Zongoloni arrived at the stockades early this morning, waiting for their friends to be let out of their night quarters. They waited patiently as the Keepers fed the Umani herd their morning milk bottles.

A short while later Jasiri also arrived wanting to join the orphans, but a loud trumpet from Murera and a warning from the Keepers ensured Jasiri kept his distance from the older girl today. This made Luggard feel a lot better knowing Murera would be close to him. Ziwa, Faraja and Zongoloni are very good with the babies, especially Zongoloni with Enkesha. Any time Zongoloni arrives, Enkesha is always overjoyed to see her and the pair spend most of their day browsing together. Sometimes when it’s time for the older ex-orphans to leave Enkesha accompanies them, but Zongoloni knows Enkesha is far too young to join them so she always lets her come up to a certain point and then encourages her to re-join the stockade-dependent orphans.

On the way home today Shukuru was leading the orphans but slowed down to bring up the rear of the herd to allow Sonje to lead. Whilst walking past the springs they spotted some crocodiles basking on the banks. As soon as they crocodiles heard the elephant’s footsteps they jumped back into the water to avoid an altercation. Enkesha was the first one to arrive at the stockades and with a loud trumpet she ran inside towards her Keeper to have her bottle of milk.

12 December 2020

Most days Shukuru and Quanza walk together to find a suitable browsing spot, and browse side by side for most of the day. Today Shukuru walked behind Quanza, allowing Quanza and Enkesha to walk up front. She chose to walk a lot slower making one of the Keepers stay back with her to keep her company. We think perhaps Shukuru was annoyed with Quanza and Enkesha because they finished her share of Lucerne pellets before Shukuru could get there. Shukuru was not too happy and showed her disappointment by browsing on her own without the two girls. Shukuru’s Keeper stayed with her to ensure she eventually joined the rest of the herd.  

Zongoloni was received by Enkesha as soon as she arrived to join the dependent orphans. With some loud and excited trumpets Enkesha ran towards her friend, as always Enkesha is happy to see Zongoloni. Faraja and Ziwa decided not to stay long; once they greeted their friends they went off in the direction of the forest.  

Later on Jasiri arrived and spotted Shukuru on her own. Thinking perhaps he would try his luck with her, he started to walk towards Shukuru, but the Keepers spotted him immediately and before he could do anything, the Keepers shooed him away. Realizing that this perhaps was not the best decision he had made, Jasiri took off towards the forest, and we are guessing joined up Ziwa and Faraja.

13 December 2020

Zongoloni once again has proved why she is the better leader of the “night-clubbers”. When the semi-independent orphans visited today, Jasiri was visibly absent. Jasiri’s behaviour over the past few days has proved a bit unsavory for the older girls as he has repeatedly tried to mount them and has generally just made a nuisance of himself. Zongoloni, understanding how this disrupts the peace of the Umani herd, made a strategic move where she decided to leave Jasiri behind with Alamaya to ensure the tranquility that the stockade orphans have always enjoyed.

This was a welcome relief for Shukuru, Sonje and Murera, and in particular Luggard, who didn’t have to face watching Murera get all upset and bothered by Jasiri being around. It is quite possible that for Zongoloni will continue with this strategy and perhaps allow Jasiri to visit with the Umani herd once he is a bit more settled.

Mwashoti also seems to have taken a keen interest in Enkesha. The little girl is far too young and small in size for a bull like Mwashoti, but not quite understanding this Mwashoti sometimes tries to mount Enkesha. As soon as the Keepers see him doing this, they warn him away. It seems to be working because as soon as a Keeper approaches Mwashoti whenever he is trying to mount Enkesha, Mwashoti runs away knowing that perhaps what he is doing is not acceptable.

14 December 2020

We were all surprised to see Jasiri arrive to join the Umani herd today. Zongoloni and the other night-clubbers were nowhere in sight and we are guessing they left Jasiri on his own so as not to have any disruptions when Zongoloni and her boys were with their wild friends.

Even though Jasiri browsed, albeit at a distance from the older girls, Shukuru, Sonje and Murera kept a keen eye on him as did the Keepers, especially because no one wanted to upset our gentle boy Luggard. Jasiri managed to behave today, so it seems as though Zongoloni’s strategy of giving Jasiri a “time-out”, worked. Jasiri also knows Zongoloni is a firm but fair disciplinarian and he enjoys spending time with all his friends and therefore seems to have calmed down.

A very big bull with one tusk emerged out of the bushes quite suddenly startling both Shukuru and Enkesha who were browsing nearby. Shukuru made a quick exit leaving little Enkesha a little confused as she was unsure which direction to go in. Lima Lima spotted Enkesha in a dilemma and rushed over to quickly rescue the little girl. She directed Enkesha out of the bushes and once in the clear, away from the wild bull, Lima Lima pulled Enkesha closer to her and comforted her by standing close to the little girl and covering her with her big ears.

15 December 2020

We noticed when Luggard was getting ready to go to bed yesterday that bending his legs was a little difficult for him. The Keepers came up with a solution of building him a soft mound of dust that was a little raised, so that Luggard would not have to bend that much to lie down. This has worked very well and Luggard is now very comfortable. Murera also came to check Luggard’s new “bed” and once Luggard was settled she retired to her own sleeping quarters.

Today when Jasiri arrived he was with Alamaya and they both went straight to the Lucerne feeding area. As soon as Murera saw Jasiri she quickly made her way over to Luggard, to protect him just in case Jasiri was in a boisterous mood. As a back-up Lima Lima was also there to provide additional security. 

At the mud bath today Lima Lima displayed another side of her personality; the funny, playful side. Her and Mwashoti spotted some butterflies and decided to chase them. They ran around in circles, blowing their trumpets and because they weren’t watching where they were going Mwashoti knocked his toes on some rocks and toppled over. When Sonje herd Mwashoti trumpet, she quickly went over to the young boy to comfort him. Lima Lima also stopped what she was doing and placed her trunk on his head as if she was saying sorry. The big boy got up and then joined Shukuru where she was browsing.  

There is a budding friendship between Quanza and Enkesha. The girls spend a lot of time together browsing and scouting out new areas where they can find water. This helps Enkesha especially on the days when Zongoloni is absent.

16 December 2020

Lima Lima surprised everyone this morning by being the first one at Luggard’s quarters. Normally it is Murera who is the first to call on Luggard, to check on how his night was and then lead him to the Lucerne corner after their milk bottle feed. Today Lima Lima did all of that and Murera was not too pleased and promptly informed the younger girl by letting out a few trumpets reprimanding Lima Lima. The younger girl heeded the warning and handed over Luggard back to Murera. 

Shukuru and Quanza broke off from the main herd today, when they saw Alamaya and Ngasha join them. Not wanting to be in the middle of the boys’ boisterous games, they browsed further afield. Sonje joined up with Zongoloni who had Enkesha by her side and seemed to be sharing stories of their adventures out in the wild, with other wild herds.

Ziwa and Faraja joined a little while later and on closer examination, one of the Keepers notices some scratches on their skin. This is probably from their encounters with other wild bulls and possibly a few tusk fights too, but on the whole, the night-clubbers seem very happy in the wild.  

17 December 2020

Four wild bulls were in the vicinity of the stockades late at night. There was a lot of loud trumpeting, sounds of breaking branches and on closer inspection in the morning they had also pulled down a few dead trees. One of the bulls came close to the gate of the stockade compound and just looked around for a while; he sniffed the air, looked around some more, and then turned around and re-joined his friends who were already walking away. All the while Shukuru was quiet, sleeping whilst standing in the corner of her room, but Enkesha and Luggard were a bit restless. The Keepers checked in on them and helped them settle down; as soon as the wild bulls left, the two youngsters fell fast asleep again.

Murera and Mwashoti took the lead today and directed the orphans towards the hills. Lima Lima and Luggard, accompanied by one of the Keepers, were taking their time, bringing up the back of the herd and slowly and carefully navigating their way along the path. A dik dik jumped out from the bushes in front of Lima Lima scaring her! Instead of running in the opposite direction her first instinct was to turn around and protect Luggard by covering his head with her trunk.

The orphans spent the rest of the day browsing in the hills and then slowly made their way home in the evening. The night passed uneventfully without any wild bulls visiting the surrounding stockade area.

18 December 2020

It was a pleasant start to the day, with Murera being the first at Luggard’s room to check in on him. The orphans indulged in a quick soil dust bath and then everyone headed out to browse.

Just before mud bath Ziwa and Jasiri joined the Umani herd. A short while later a fight broke out between the two bulls to see who was the strongest. Ziwa lost the first and not willing to back down engaged Jasiri in another strength pushing game. The matriarchs of the herd, Sonje and Murera, not wanting the fight to get out of control, quickly intervened and separated the boys. It is amazing to see how the matriarchs of the herd always know just what to do at the right time, to ensure the harmony between herd members.  

Shukuru, needless to say, always stays as far as she can from the rambunctious boys; she always manages to find a quiet spot where she can browse in peace.  

Mwashoti managed to entice Enkesha to join him at the springs; the Keepers gave them a bit of time on their own and then went to collect both of them to rejoin the herd for the rest of the afternoon before returning home.

19 December 2020

Today best friends Faraja and Jasiri turned up with two wild bulls; one tusk-less and the other slightly older, with a very rough and tough look. The older wild bull was rather curious about the Keepers and he approached them slowly but keeping a safe distance between himself and the Keepers. With his raised trunk he caught the scent of the Keepers and it was so unfamiliar that the older bull turned around and walked back into the forest with the young tusk-less one right behind him.   

Enkesha teamed up with Shukuru today, breaking away from the Umani herd. They could see the boys were getting closer and wanted to browse in peace, without being disturbed by their games, so both girls made their way towards the Chyulu Hills where Enkesha knew a few spots that were thick and dense with shrub and they could browse without being seen by the boys.  

At the mud bath today Enkesha stood at the edge of the water, testing the temperature with her trunk. Shukuru was watching to see what Enkesha would do and when she saw that Enkesha didn’t leave, she knew the temperature must be okay to swim and so she jumped right in. Lima Lima also joined in, followed by Enkesha, and they all swam together but the true star for today was Lima Lima.

20 December 2020

Today we had a bit of an adventure when the orphans were returning to the stockades to retire for the night.

As the orphans approached the stockades, they came across some fresh wild elephant dung. This alarmed some of them as they felt there might be some wild elephants nearby. Murera and Lima Lima gathered Luggard and made a bee-line towards the Umani Springs eco-lodge where they felt they would be safest. Sonje, Mwashoti, Quanza and Enkesha ran towards the Umani Springs and Shukuru headed back in the direction we had just come from.

Luckily all our Keepers are so well trained in such matters, so we strategically split into three groups - each group headed in the direction of where the different orphans had gone. The orphans know and trust the Keepers completely and they managed to calm them down and safely return them to the stockades. Sonje’s team was the first to arrive and then Lima Lima, Murera and Shukuru.  

21 December 2020

Today was a lovely day for the orphans with pleasant weather and the orphans browsed peacefully all day with no interruptions from the night-clubbers or any wild elephants or buffaloes.

The night time turned out to be quite different however. A leopard managed to attack a troop of baboons who must have been resting in the trees near the stockades. There was a lot of loud screaming and commotion coming from the trees that Murera started to panic. The Keepers understood that she wanted to be close to her boy Luggard as she felt he needed her protection, not fully understanding that it was just the baboons causing a ruckus in the trees. The Keepers allowed Murera to exit her quarters and stay in Luggard’s.

The noise did eventually die down and but not for long, as the baboons started screaming again and this time it was Lima Lima banging against her gate to be let out to be with Luggard. So in the end all three Murera, Lima Lima and Luggard spent the night in Luggard’s’ stockade. The Keepers also slept close to Luggard’s stockade to re-assure all three of them that all was safe.

22 December 2020

It was very early in the morning when the night-clubbers decided to visit their friends at the stockades.

We went through our usual routine of the orphans exiting their stockades, exchanging greetings and each enquiring from the other how their night was. Once the orphans had had their milk and were walking towards the Lucerne corner, Zongoloni and her boys joined the Umani herd.  

Zongoloni greeted Murera first and started to rub up against the girl. Murera is strong enough to sustain Zongoloni’s weight but the Keepers noticed that all the orphans were sniffing Zongoloni’s back with their trunks. The Keepers took a closer look and discovered Zongoloni had a small wound. The SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet was called upon immediately to come and treat Zongoloni’s wound.

23 December 2020

Zongoloni turned up at the stockades again early this morning; she knows full well that her wound will be well treated here.

The Keepers tried to apply iodine on her wound but Zongoloni was a bit skittish so they gave her some Lucerne to help make her feel more comfortable. Once the Keepers managed to apply the iodine, it seemed as though Zongoloni was ready to leave; with one big loud trumpet she summoned the boys but the boys misunderstood the signal and assumed it was a cry for help. They all rushed towards, causing some confusion. Murera ran towards Luggard to protect him and Lima Lima ran towards the Keepers to protect them. There was no need for anyone to protect anyone but seeing the big boys running sent the Umani herd in to a bit of a panic.  

Calm was restored as soon as the night-clubbers left and the Keepers gathered their babies and left for the day’s activities.

24 December 2020

The night-clubber bulls arrived in time to join the orphans at the Lucerne corner this morning. Unbeknownst to the Keepers, a wild bull had also accompanied the boys so when the Keepers saw this large shape come up behind the semi-independent orphans, it startled the orphans and Keepers, and send the stockade residents into a bit of a panic.

The Keepers had not had such a large bull visit the stockades before. Their first instinct was the safety of the orphans. Murera, Luggard and Shukuru were ushered into Luggard’s stockade whilst Lima Lima helped the Keepers usher the others into their stockades and finally into her own. The Keeper sat and watched from a distance as the bulls and their new bull friend enjoyed the Lucerne all on their own!

Once they had their fill the bulls and their wild friend left the stockades, after which the Keepers let out the orphans once the coast was clear. The orphans had their lucerne and filed out ready to start their day of browsing. The rest of the day was quite pleasant with no incidents.

25 December 2020

At the 11am milk feed today, a buffalo ventured into the mud bath area. The orphans were in the middle of their milk feed and Murera dropped her bottle to get to Luggard to put some distance between them and the solo buffalo. Sonje and Quanza also dropped their milk bottles and stayed close to Murera. Greedy Lima Lima however saw this as an opportunity to have more milk! She wasted no time in finishing Murera, Sonje and Quanza’s milk. This meant that the Keepers had to go back and make a fresh batch for the three girls.  

For the rest of the day Lima Lima stayed away from Murera and Sonje knowing full well that she had done wrong stealing milk that was not meant for her. She spent the whole afternoon browsing with Shukuru but by the next morning, the girls had gone back to being friends again.

By midday the temperature was rising and so all the orphans cooled off by wallowing in the mud bath. The Keepers brought extra acacia pods for the orphans as a belated Christmas treat. The Keepers also sat together under the trees, enjoying their meal and sang a few Christmas songs in celebration.

26 December 2020

The orphans all woke up in a happy mood. Everyone had their milk bottles and made their way to the Lucerne corner. As the orphans were enjoying their Lucerne we heard a very loud crash which startled all of us. A large acacia tree had just fallen.  

Murera was the first to examine the tree and was delighted to find that the fallen acacia was full fresh foliage. Murera decided she wanted to stay back with Luggard to enjoy the fresh acacia and Shukuru joined them. So it was decided that a few of the Keepers would remain behind with Murera, Shukuru and Luggard and the rest of the Keepers would accompany the others out into the forest.  

Once Murera and the other two felt satisfied, they joined the rest of the herd. Lima Lima wanted to them to browse on the hills but since Murera was already too full to move, everyone stayed in the same area until sundown when it was time to go home. 

27 December 2020

Today felt like a day to celebrate; as the Keepers looked around the stockades at their happy and healthy orphans, as a treat they decided to give the orphans extra hay and pellets.

Luggard remains a priority for Murera and Sonje; his well being and safety always takes precedence in any situation for these two girls. So when Sonje saw that Ziwa and Mwashoti were getting close to where Luggard was browsing with Shukuru today, she moved a little closer to the young boy because she could see that if either of the boys were to feel mischievous, Shukuru was too engrossed in peeling acacia bark, to protect Luggard. Luckily the boys took their energetic games elsewhere. Bark from trees provides much needed nutrition for elephants.

Unbeknownst to Quanza, a couple of crocodiles were enjoying basking in the sunshine near to the Umani Springs. As Quanza got closer the crocodiles sensed her footsteps and jumped into the water to avoid being trampled on. This sudden movement startled Quanza and she let out a scared trumpet. Mwashoti was nearby and rushed to his friends aid, running and trumpeting loudly to scare off whatever it was that had troubled Quanza.  

28 December 2020

The night -clubbers boys arrived in time for Lucerne this morning. They stood outside the gates waiting for Keepers to open them.  

As they Keepers laid out the Lucerne, Lima Lima and Mwashoti felt that the Lucerne would not be enough for all of them if it was shared with semi-independent orphans, so whilst the Keepers were busy laying out the Lucerne, Mwashoti and Lima Lima snuck into the hay store and grabbed a hay bale each and high-tailed it out of the store. The Keepers shouted at them to drop the bales but neither orphan listened. Ziwa and Faraja caught on to the action and not ones to miss out, trumpeted very loudly making Mwashoti and Lima Lima drop their bales of hay. As soon as they did this, Ziwa and Faraja grabbed the hay bales and started to eat the hay. Their victory did not last long either as both Jasiri and Ngasha arrived, chasing away Ziwa and Faraja and keeping the hay for themselves.

Murera and the other orphans were very excited at watching this display of wild behaviour, and the Keepers decided that perhaps it was best to leave the boys to enjoy their hay and move the Umani herd towards the browsing fields. After a very excitement filled morning, the rest of the day the orphans enjoyed browsing along the Chyulu hills.  

29 December 2020

As the sun rose in the sky today so did the temperature.  

Mwashoti and Lima Lima sought refuge under the cool shade of a small tree. Just as they were relaxing, Murera came along with Luggard and decided that the other two should find another tree and let Luggard rest under this one. Whilst they were searching for another tree, Mwashoti and Lima Lima came across a small rain puddle. They decided to stop and cool off in the mud, which soon turned into a pushing game of who deserved to wallow first. The game got a bit heated, with the two orphans trumpeting and making quite a ruckus, catching the attention of Murera who walked over to see what the commotion was about, only to realize these two were having a friendly tussle.  

Murera walked back to fetch Luggard and then walked to the rain puddle where by now, Lima Lima and Mwashoti were done with their games and had moved on. Murera and Luggard spent the rest of the afternoon wallowing in the mud and browsing nearby until it was time to go home.

30 December 2020

During the night we heard a lot of loud trumpeting coming from a herd of wild elephants, perhaps about 100m to 200 m away. They were there for almost two hours.

In the morning when we opened the gates to the compound the orphans, who had also heard all the commotion, were curious to see what the noise was all about. They didn’t even finish their Lucerne pellets and walked out towards where they felt the noise had been coming from last night. Catching the scent of the wild elephants led them to a spot where it seemed like a wild elephant had given birth to a baby. All the orphans gathered round and started sniffing the area and trumpeting, alerting Murera to come and investigate. Once Murera realized there had been a birth they started walking further into the forest to see if they could find the mother and the baby. They walked for almost 2kms but only discovered the placenta. Lima Lima was quite intrigued and sniffed the placenta. The rest of the orphans surrounded the placenta, just as intrigued.  

Most of the morning had gone into this adventure so the Keepers decided instead of returning to the stockades to let the orphans finish their Lucerne, to guide the Umani herd towards the mud bath so that they could have their milk feed there and then perhaps return to the stockades in the early evening to finish their Lucerne then.

31 December 2020

As usual after the morning milk feed and pellets, the orphans decided to head out in the direction of the Umani Springs.

The orphans were enjoying their browse and scratching their backs against some trees, when they saw a bushbuck jump out from the bushes because it was being chased by a leopard. The bushbuck wanted to get to the other side of the Springs but was unable to because of the water. The bushbuck saw the orphans and decided to seek refuge amongst them. Mwashoti and Lima Lima spotted the leopard and decided to chase it off. Murera as usual went into full maternal mode and moved Luggard away, but Mwashoti and Lima Lima did a good job of chasing it far away.

Both orphans returned and the Keepers decided to move the herd towards the mud bath area. The bushbuck stayed with them all day and all afternoon, and sometime just before the orphans were ready to return home, the bushbuck went its separate way, knowing it was safe now.