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.