Keepers' Diaries, February 2022

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

February began on an exciting note in the Kibwezi Forest: A large wild herd, including four tiny babies, came to visit the orphans. The Keepers had a hard time calling Kiasa, Maktao, Kiombo, and Enkesha away from the visitors! Once they realised Zongoloni was among them, they recruited her and Lima Lima to round up the young orphans, who were loath to leave the delightful babies behind.

Our herd dynamics continue to evolve. Sonje now looks after the junior babies, including Kiombo, Kiasa, Maktao, and Enkesha. Quanza has emerged as her wonderful assistant. Murera, meanwhile, focuses on her beloved boy, Mwashoti, and any older orphans who happen to be visiting. She is ably assisted by Lima Lima, who is the herd’s route planner.

Lima Lima is also the Keepers’ self-appointed scout. One morning, it was so foggy that the Keepers struggled to see where they were going. The elephants led the way, dictated by their sense of smell. The Keepers walked close to Lima Lima, trusting her to choose a safe path. Unluckily, however, they encountered a group of sleeping buffalos. Everyone got frightened and scattered in all directions. Lima Lima quickly gathered her wits and turned to face the buffalos, placing herself between them and the Keepers. Enkesha and Maktao were very pleased with this display of bravery and cheered on Lima Lima with a chorus of trumpets.

Enkesha is also becoming a mini matriarch in her own right. She is calm, loyal, and diplomatic, and the young orphans know they can count on her. Mimicking what she sees Murera do, she makes her morning rounds, stopping by each stockade and checking on her friends. She and Maktao remain best friends. After spending one morning deep in conversation, they formulated a plan and led a small group towards Kenze Hill. Lima Lima joined them, leaving Quanza and Murera to bring up the rear. This demonstrated that Enkesha has great leadership capabilities, and it gave Lima Lima a break from planning the day.

Our little trio is thriving at Umani Springs. While Kiasa, Maktao, and Kiombo have become fast friends with the rest of the herd, they remain very bonded to each other. One morning, Kiasa and Maktao spent a long time embracing. This made Kiombo jealous, as he also wanted Kiasa’s hugs. Quanza and Sonje comforted Kiombo, placing their trunks on his shoulder. Feeling placated, Kiombo let out a series of loud, contented rumbles. 

Maktao is known for his gentle nature, but he is not above reproach! One morning, he saw Kiasa picking up leftover lucerne pellets and became worried that she would finish them. He remedied the situation by charging at her and bumping her hard in the belly. Luckily, Quanza intervened, standing between them and putting an end to their silly fight. Peace restored, the two babies happily shared the rest of the leftover lucerne. 

February is a month of love, and there was lots of it to go around. Our older females are entertaining their fair share of admirers. Murera and Sonje spent one night communicating with a group of wild bulls who came to pay their respects. While Murera is standoffish towards most bulls, Sonje loves the attention. One day, Sonje insisted on allowing a wild bull to remain with the herd, even though his presence made Murera uneasy. Eventually, Quanza intervened and convinced Sonje that this particular flirtation was not a good idea.

Of course, Lima Lima remains the biggest flirt of them all. She is constantly parading around with new suitors — of which she seems to have no shortage! One day, Alamaya reported to the stockades with a wild bull in tow. Lima Lima quickly took the bull around the fence line, moving him away from the other girls and thus ensuring his eye didn’t wander.

On Valentine’s Day, Lima Lima arrived with a new boyfriend. Her suitor was definitely not expecting that their date would include humans, and he kept a wary eye on the Keepers. After consulting with Lima Lima and confirming that they were in safe hands, he decided to remain with her and the rest of the Umani orphans. When Sonje and Quanza tried to say hello, Lima Lima got jealous and blocked them from greeting her new boyfriend. Lima Lima has endless confidence, but she is also very canny about eliminating female competition!

Zongoloni remains the matriarch of the semi-independent ‘nightclubbers.’ Although they link up with the dependent herd most days, they sometimes go away for extended periods. One afternoon, she, Ziwa, Faraja, and Jasiri returned after a multi-day adventure. Lima Lima welcomed them back with trunk hugs and big rumbles. Kiasa was delighted to be reunited with her ‘big sister,’ Zongoloni. She ran over and smothered the older girl in trunk hugs. Ngasha welcomed Ziwa with a pushing match. 

Alamaya and Mwashoti continue to take their wild transition at their own pace. For instance, Alamaya initially joined the nightclubbers’ aforementioned multi-day adventure, but when he realised they were going on a long trek, he turned back and linked up with the dependent herd. He and Mwashoti are like brothers, supportive and antagonistic in equal measure. One afternoon, Mwashoti was chasing butterflies down the hill. When he attempted to kick one, he instead toppled over in a heap. Alamaya promptly came over and sat on top of Mwashoti, mocking him for his gaffe.

Unfortunately, Ngasha’s feud with Jasiri and Faraja continues. Everyone is fed up with Ngasha, as he can be very boisterous and forgets his manners. When Jasiri and Faraja see him with the orphans, they give the herd a wide berth, as they don’t want to cause trouble. We wonder if this is just Ngasha’s clumsy attempt to assert himself as the dominant bull of the Umani herd.

If this is the case, Ngasha is getting a bit ahead of himself. One afternoon, Ngasha and Alamaya went to investigate a wild herd who were causing a ruckus. Before they reached them, however, a huge bull emerged from the trees and chased them away. Ngasha, who is supposed to be the big dominant male, came running back to his Keepers like a baby!

February 2022 day to day

01 Feb

A large wild herd, with four tiny babies, came to visit the orphans. The Keepers had a hard time calling Kiasa, Maktao, Enkesha and Kiombo away from the wild herd. Eventually they realised Zongoloni was also with them, and once they called her back, the others followed. Lima Lima was also helpful in rounding up the other orphans so they could all go home.

The hot weather meant the orphans got directly into the waterhole to cool off — except for Ngasha and Faraja. These older boys know that there are other bigger waterholes on their way to the Chyulu Hills, which they left for immediately.

Zongoloni came home only to make sure that Kiasa also went back to the Stockades for the night. Once all the orphans had settled into their bedrooms, Zongoloni left to join her wild friends.



Lima Lima