Keepers' Diaries, February 2023

Select your unit:

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

For our Umani herd, the month began with drama. Alamaya reported to the stockades early in the morning. The orphans were very happy to see him as he had been gone for a couple of days. Alamaya was keen to prove to Mwashoti that he was stronger after his adventure, so they proceeded to have a spirited sparring match. Alamaya eventually defeated Mwashoti and chased him away from the orphan herd — but not for long. Mwashoti returned later in the afternoon with his new friend, Ngasha. Mwashoti must have told Ngasha about his ordeal, because the bigger bull went straight to Alamaya and ousted him from the herd. Alamaya sought refuge with a wild family browsing nearby, who welcomed him warmly.

Lima Lima is always keen to recruit new minions, and her latest target is Amali. One evening, the Keepers even had a hard time separating them when they got back to the stockades. Lima Lima wanted Amali to spend the night out in the bush with her, but the young girl isn’t ready for that step. Eventually, the Keepers coaxed Amali into her stockade, but Lima Lima wistfully stood outside for a long time. The Keepers also found her waiting at the gate first thing in the morning.

Sonje and Quanza love looking after the babies, although they will both drop anyone in order to be with their favourite little Kapei. One day, Sonje caught Quanza trying to sneak off with Kapei and angrily chased the other girl away. This suited Kapei, as he seems to prefer Sonje’s company best.

Ziwa was the first orphan from our Umani family to complete his reintegration journey. He was adopted by a wild herd of elephants, although he continues to stop by periodically. Ziwa usually shows up in the early morning or in the evening, then visits for a bit while his honorary family waits nearby. It is heartwarming to see how enthusiastically these elephants have ‘adopted’ Ziwa; they always collect him from the orphan herd before they move off.

Murera and Mwashoti have a very special relationship. When Mwashoti first arrived at Umani, Murera adopted him. Over the years, they have remained best friends. Each morning, Mwashoti reports back to the stockades and greets Murera with trunk hugs. The Keepers believe he is so gentle — particularly for a bull — because he has grown up with Murera as his mentor. The only time Mwashoti gets aggressive is when Alamaya gets too close to Murera, as he is very protective of her.

Although Amali is self-sufficient, it’s been nice to see her forging deeper friendships with the other Umani orphans. She has been spending more time with Enkesha, Kiasa, and Lima Lima — although the Keepers must be very careful that Lima Lima does not take Amali away with her to the bush. This is quickly becoming Lima Lima’s favourite trick. For the most part, Amali can look after herself. She is very clever and cautious, and has figured out which orphans are friendly and which ones to avoid.

One afternoon, a wild herd with young babies joined the orphans for an extended browsing session. The wild babies were age mates with Kapei and Amali. When it was time to leave, the Keepers had a difficult time separating the orphans from the wild herd. Little Kapei was the hardest to retrieve — apparently, even wild elephants are obsessed with him! In the end, it took a bottle of milk to lure him back to the herd.

Although Quanza recently joined the nightclubbers, she still reports to the stockades every morning to greet the orphans. Because Sonje has become so protective of Kapei, Quanza has started showing more interest in Amali. Today, Quanza and Amali walked together browsing, and then Quanza pulled a disappearing act with her. The Keepers searched around for them, only to find that they had gone ahead to the mud bath, where they were waiting patiently for the others. The Keepers laughed; Amali loves the mud bath, so she must have been thrilled to get there early.

This month, Kiasa had a disagreement with her old friend Kiombo over an acacia branch. Although Kiasa had the branch first, Kiombo thought he could overpower her and steal it. This was a big mistake, as Kiasa is very tough and not one to give up a fight. Maktao came over to join in the game, until he realised it was not playful in spirit. The Keepers thought he appeared to find it amusing that Kiombo had been beaten by Kiasa. 

On Valentine’s Day, Murera was not feeling the love. She was in a bad mood and only wanted Mwashoti and Amali near her. When Maktao and Kiombo approached, she chased them away. She even banished the other orphans from the lucerne pellet pile, so she and her chosen duo could eat in peace. 

Although Lima Lima is constantly trying to whisk away the younger babies, she is also very good at fetching them back. One day, Enkesha, Maktao, and Kiasa pulled a disappearing act at the mud bath. The Keepers tried calling them, to no avail. Then, Lima Lima took control of the situation. She went into the bushes and a short while later returned with Enkesha, Maktao, and Kiasa in tow. 

Our clever girls Kiasa and Enkesha have been taking notes from Lima Lima. The Keepers call Lima Lima the ‘scout’ of the Umani herd, because she always alerts them to potential danger ahead. Because she has been spending more time in the wild, this duty has fallen upon Kiasa and Enkesha. They are very good at their jobs and quickly warn the Keepers if wild elephants are in the area. 

She recently transitioned to the wild, but on the 21st, Quanza wanted a break. In the evening, the entire orphan herd came back to the stockades for their dinner lucerne pellets and water. After they had their fill, Mwashoti, Alamaya, and Lima Lima walked off into the bush, but Quanza did not follow her friends. She ran into the stockades and trumpeted loudly, making it crystal clear she did not want to spend the night out in the bush. The Keepers let her inside the compound, and she promptly went to check on Enkesha, Maktao, and Kapei, before joining Kiasa in her old room. Kiasa was not happy to have a roommate again, as she had grown used to having her own space.

Kapei continues his mischievous habit of screaming loudly for no reason at all. He knows that the moment the older girls hear him trumpeting, they rush over to his side. No matter how many times he does it, Sonje, Lima Lima, and Quanza never cease to answer his call. He always looks quite smug after pulling this little trick; he loves to be surrounded!

February 2023 day to day

01 Feb

Alamaya came back to the stockades early this morning. The orphans were very happy to see him as he had been gone for a couple of days. Alamaya was keen to prove to Mwashoti that he was stronger after his adventure. They had a sparring match, pushing each other around for ten minutes. Alamaya eventually defeated Mwashoti and chased him away from the orphan herd. Mwashoti left, feeling sorry for himself. He came back later in the afternoon with his new friend Ngasha. Mwashoti must have told Ngasha about his ordeal, as Ngasha went straight to Alamaya, forcing him out of the orphan herd. Alamaya ran off and joined a wild herd that was browsing close by. The wild family welcomed Alamaya, who followed them to the Umani Springs.


Mwashoti browsing