January at Umani Springs has been exceptionally pleasant for elephants and Keepers alike. With so much vegetation, wild flowers, lilies, fruits and soft grass everywhere the orphans have been spoilt for choice. Also despite the temperatures rising now that the hot season is upon us the generous forest canopy cover gives the orphans much respite from the soaring temperatures.
The forest remains full of natural mudwallows and watering points everywhere which makes the opportunity for spontaneous wallowing possible Our original five orphans, Sonje, Murera, Lima Lima Quanza and Zongoloni were joined by three boys who made the transition for the Nairobi Nursery this month to Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest. Jasiri, Faraja two little half albino boys rescued from Amboseli National Park arrived on the 16th of January along with their best friend Ngasha. There journey down from Nairobi was quick and painless having them all on site at Umani at just 9.30 am. The girls could not believe their luck when the Elephant Moving truck arrived with some Nursery friends to join them, all but Murera, who still remains rather jealous of the new arrangement. She is definitely thawing with time, but it has taken quite some time for Murera to change her rude ways. Lima Lima and Quanza on the other hand are obsessed with the naughty boys and have provided excellent guiding skills teaching the newcomers the ropes. They are always close at hand in case of any drama. The new arrivals settled in almost immediately recognizing they had arrived in paradise! Ngasha remains a clinging vine in that he is most comfortable with his Keepers in sight, but even he is getting use to the forest environment. The crested cranes have freaked them out on occasion; with their noisy calls now they have two little chicks in tow this is not something Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha are familiar with.
Floating baby crocodiles in their mudwallow too is another novelty that the newcomers are not entirely comfortable with!
The orphans are visited most nights by wild elephant herds. Many big bulls come to the water trough outside their night stockades and are very interested in the young ones, with female herds and their babies coming too these days to fraternize with the orphans under the cover of darkness. They still remain weary of the Keepers but this is changing with time and sometimes they have been bold enough to appear in the day time to try to join up with the orphans. Murera is very interested in the wild herds, the younger orphans are curious but sometimes rather intimidated too.
Lima Lima is a marvel, the brightest most human like elephant the Umani Keepers can ever remember. She constantly entertains them with her active antics, and she has this whole Unit sorted and takes charge when she needs to and always defers to the wisdom of Murera and Sonje when necessary too. She is a call away for the Keepers who can dictate proceedings by calling her name. She is also exceptionally aware of keeping her Keepers safe and alerts them long before they have any idea of the presence of wild elephant or buffalo in order for them to take evasive action. She is also exceptionally greedy and simply loves her milk bottles. Zongoloni on the other hand has mastered in her quiet way how to kneel down, pick up her own milk bottle and gulp down her feed. Quanza and Lima Lima have attempted this a few times unsuccessfully! Sonje has been rather torn this month whether to spend time with the boisterous boys, Lima Lima and Quanza or hang out with the more sedate Murera who is keeping her distance with and her favorite calf Zongoloni.
Fun filled days have been documented by our Umani Keepers to share with you in their diary entries, complemented by some stunning photographs.