Keepers' Diaries, February 2020

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Ziwa, Ngasha, Faraja and their female chaperone, Zongoloni, continue to explore their independence at night, not wanting to stay in with the other orphans in the stockade compound and preferring to stay out in the forest. Sometimes they disappear for a couple of days at a time and just as we start to wonder where they have got to, they are there back in the stockade compound in the morning, waiting patiently outside eager to share the Lucerne pellet breakfast with the others and catch up.

Sometimes the independent group splinter as well, depending on what they all feel like doing. One day Ziwa walked off towards the Chyulu Hills on his own, as the others felt like staying with the dependent herd. Zongoloni, perhaps eager to show her independence of the bulls as well, was happy to walk off towards the Kenze hills on her own too, a place she is very familiar with now as she and the older bulls spend a lot of time there. Sometimes when the orphans return they look very sleepy and rest their heads up against trees, as if they have been fraternising with wild friends all night. Ngasha one day had to skip the mud bath entirely and instead took the opportunity to have a full blown horizontal nap while the others swam. Another day Ziwa returned looking very sleepy and the Keepers thought that he may have been with a wild herd as he had some white scratches on his body, which is often a sign of wrestling with bigger elephants who have longer tusks. He appeared happy to be with the dependent orphans and was very relaxed as he ate his morning Lucerne pellets however. One day Quanza seemed interested in following the independent group too, as they made their way to the Chyulu Hills. As Zongoloni and the boys have been spending nights away from the Umani herd, they know their routes well and are able to walk quickly through the thick shrubs. Quanza was not used to those adventures and paths and struggled to keep up with them. She eventually lost them and chose to turn back and join the rest of the Umani orphans, not totally comfortable leaving them just yet. Alamaya seems interested in showing off how big he is becoming to the others and often spreads his ears high and wide to show off his size. He isn’t afraid to square up to any of the others about anything, except the matriarchs of course. Mwashoti on the other hand is still a big baby and is doted on by Murera and Sonje. Sometimes we hear him shout for no reason at all, and the big girls go running to his side. Jasiri has been very friendly towards the two little boys and one day we watched him approach Alamaya as if to comfort him. He playfully nuzzled Alamaya with his trunk and even touched Alamaya’s stump of a tail which normally would have made Alamaya very annoyed, but that day he seemed to be happy to play around with Jasiri and didn’t push him away once. We have also noticed recently how kind Ziwa is being towards Shukuru. This normally very boisterous boy seems to be doing his utmost to get closer to our shy and reserved little girl. Shukuru normally shies away from the older bulls and keeps her distance, but recently she has given in to Ziwa and his requests to mud bath together as he has demonstrated a much calmer personality. We were so surprised to see them swimming together on more than one occasion. Shukuru will often join Quanza however and is happy to walk and browse with her; they have a very nice friendship and can often be seen spending time together. In general Shukuru is looking so well these days and is becoming quite speedy; one day she was very fast to the noon milk feed and arrived first to the bottle feeding point. She ran so fast she made it hard for even Mwashoti and Alamaya to keep up! She is looking stronger and better than ever.

February 2020 day to day

01 Feb

Lima Lima enjoyed playing some games this morning after which she went to cool off at the waterhole where she rolled around in the muddy water.  Once she has cooled off she returned to the bushes for another browsing session.  When Ziwa and Ngasha saw that Lima Lima had left the mud wallow they decided to go and have a bath themselves. The two were happy to enjoy a private mud bath without any of the other orphans, especially the females, around them.  

As Lima Lima was walking back to the hills to browse, she caught an unfamiliar scent and lifted her trunk above her head to get a better sense of what wild animal was around.  She was about to head back to the Keepers to alert them that something was around when she realized that she was only smelling some baboons in the trees above her.  

Today Mwashoti got separated from the rest of the group and his adopted mothers Murera and Sonje. He was so focused on peeling bark away from an acacia tree and didn’t notice that the rest of the herd had moved on ahead of him. When he realized that he had been left behind he ran to catch up following the scent of the orphans along the path they had taken.  Once he found the rest of the group, he made sure to stick close to them so as not to become separated again.  

Lima Lima smelling baboons

Ziwa and Ngasha

Mwashoti peeling bark from an acacia tree