Keepers' Diaries, February 2015

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Like everywhere it is drying out in the Umani Forest, but compared to else where there is still plentiful food. The orphans have been more preoccupied with feeding and finding the tempting browse to complement their milk feeds, and reach for the high branches of the acacia trees, and dig up roots with their feet. Soft green grass is always a welcomed treat, but the buffaloes are competing for this too as the dry season grips. Towards the end of the month the acacias were beginning to flower and the orphans favourite food, acacia pods are beginning to drop.

Like everywhere it is drying out in the Umani Forest, but compared to else where there is still plentiful food. The orphans have been more preoccupied with feeding and finding the tempting browse to complement their milk feeds, and reach for the high branches of the acacia trees, and dig up roots with their feet. Soft green grass is always a welcomed treat, but the buffaloes are competing for this too as the dry season grips. Towards the end of the month the acacias were beginning to flower and the orphans favourite food, acacia pods are beginning to drop.

This month Murera has had a number of extremely jovial days, where she is joyously throwing herself around, her happiness is a great joy for us all who remember her very difficult beginning so vividly. Umani Springs was built with Murera in mind, and to see the group of Umani elephants so settled and so incredibly happy in their new home is wonderful.

The wild elephants from the region are congregating in the forest where there is more food, these elephants are coming from the Chyulu Hills and Amboseli beyond. On a couple of occasions the Keepers have had to hurry to retrieve the orphans before they are spirited away by the wild bulls. Most nights the wild elephants come and enjoy water at the stockade water trough and have found the left over Lucerne. On some occasions this month female herds with a number of new born babies have been visiting the orphans. These babies have been born in the forest in the recent weeks.

The boys Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha have settled in well, and are a great source of enjoyment for the girls, Quanza and Lima Lima in particular. Murera while she is the Matriach, she can be grumpy at times, and the others have learnt when to give her space and when to stay close. Lima Lima is the leader very often, but not necessarily the decision maker, important decisions are still made by Murera and Sonje the oldest two. Zongoloni has pride of place as Sonje’s favourite girl.

Faraja has quite the reputation as the tail biter, with Jasiri having a particularly hard time with his habit, but they are all wise to it now and he is avoided when in those moods. Lima Lima has kept a close eye on the boys who sometimes get los, venturing too far and can no longer locate their Keepers and then panic, and Lima Lima is quick to respond and locate them to bring them back to their beloved green coats.

More comings and goings from Umani Springs can be enjoyed in the Umani Keepers daily diaries.

February 2015 day to day

01 Feb

After their morning bottles the orphans ran out very quickly to find something to eat. Jasiri, Ngasha and Lima Lima walked behind their keepers, allowing them to choose the direction everyone would go today. They walked towards the browsing area near the Umani hill but it looked very dry with few green branches for the babies to enjoy. The hill has been invaded by the wild elephants from the Chyulu hills and Amboseli, as Umani is the only place left with plenty of water and some green foliage in this very dry month. Having browsed on the Umani hills the orphans walked slowly downhill towards the mud wallow. It was very hot and they were thirsty for milk and water. After her bottle Lima Lima felt itchy and scratched up against a post, trying to squash the ticks attached to her body, while she waited for the other orphans to come and have a mudbath with her. Quanza and the boys went to the dust bath where they had lots of fun. Jasiri got dust in his eye and rubbed it with his trunk. Sonje went over to him to find out what was wrong but could do nothing to help.

Sonja and Quanza browsing together

Lima Lima having a scratch

Sonje having fun throwing dust

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