Keepers' Diaries, January 2021

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

There were all sorts of shenanigans at the Umani Unit this month. Not only was the impish Lima Lima up to her usual tricks, stealing hay bales and umbrellas from the Keepers just to initiate a playful game of chase, but Ngasha and Alamaya, once part of the more independent herd of orphans referred to as the ‘night-clubbers’ seemed to take a break from that group to spend more time with the Umani herd instead, bringing with them all sorts of recently acquired bad habits as well. We will never fully know why they chose to return, perhaps life out with fully-grown wild bulls to contend with was still too much for these young bulls to grapple with, or perhaps Zongoloni sent them back to the matriarchs and the Keepers for some discipline.

01 January 2021

After the midday milk feed all the orphans indulged in a leisurely mud bath. Once done, all the Keepers and the orphans decided to take a break from the heat by resting under some nearby acacia trees. Everyone one was relaxing except Lima Lima; she raised her trunk, sniffing the air, alerting the Keepers that perhaps a wild animal was nearby.

She enlisted Mwashoti to be her second in command and both took off towards the forest to investigate further, where they found a lone wild bull. A few minutes later, Mwashoti was spotted being chased away by this wild bull. Mwashoti returned to where the Keepers were with the Umani herd, but there was no sign of Lima Lima. It seemed as though the wild bull was interested only in the females in the Umani herd. Lima Lima stayed in the forest for almost two hours.

In the evening when the Umani herd was making their way home and we saw Lima Lima emerge from the forest and join us on the walk back to the stockades; boys or no boys, this greedy girl wasn’t going to miss out on her milk bottle! The wild bull wasn’t too far behind but maintained a safe distance. The orphans settled into their evening routine as the wild bull watched from outside the shut gates. He waited there for a while but then joined our night-clubbers for the rest of the night.

02 January 2021

It has been almost a week now that Ngasha has been spending less and less time with his night-clubber friends and more time with a new wild family he has recently become friendly with.

Despite these newfound friends, he still arrives every morning at the stockade compound to see his friends in the Umani herd. Yesterday he managed to convince Mwashoti to join him and the two boys snuck off so that Ngasha could introduce Mwashoti to his new wild family. Mwashoti did spend the entire day with this wild family, but in the evening as he started to make his way back to the stockades, Ngasha tried to dissuade him otherwise, trying to entice him to stay out all night with him and his wild friends. The Keepers saw that Mwashoti was not too keen to join Ngasha, so they nudged Mwashoti towards the gate and made it very clear that Ngasha should leave the young boy alone.

Mwashoti finished his milk bottles in seconds and retired to his room and fell asleep immediately; he must have been very tired from the excitement of his day out with wild friends.

03 January 2021

After their midday mud bath and dust bathing, the orphans decided to spread out to cover a larger area of browsing.  

Enkesha and Lima Lima were browsing together when they came across a baby female buffalo. Enkesha was excited to make a new friend and started playing with the little buffalo. Lima Lima, not wanting to miss out on the fun, joined in, but not realizing how big and intimidating her size must seem to the baby buffalo, she started to push the little buffalo around, and the baby buffalo started crying out to her mother for help. Out from the tall grass emerged three female buffalos. Lima Lima and Enkesha quickly moved away from the baby buffalo towards Murera, who had gone into full matriarch mode. She stood tall with all her babies behind her and spread her ears. The buffalos immediately backed down and moved away from the Umani herd.

After that it was decided the Umani herd should move away too, putting quite some distance between themselves and buffalos. The rest of the afternoon passed peacefully with no more encounters with any other wild animals. The orphans returned to the stockades and settled in for the night.

04 January 2021

A slight sibling rivalry appears to have broken out between the two youngest members of our herd. Having been rather aloof before, Enkesha is suddenly rather envious of all the attention Luggard receives from the older females in the herd. They dote on him and take care of his every need. Enkesha, very much like our own human children, has now started acting up sometimes, or being a little naughty. Sometimes she pretends something is wrong with her just so that the older girls pay her more attention, but somehow all of Enkesha’s problems seem to disappear when it is time for her milk feed. She will charge ahead of the others to get to her Keeper before everyone else!  

Today at the mud bath Enkesha was bit cheeky and pushed poor Luggard. The older girls were quick to help Luggard get up, and checked him over; the young bull wasn’t hurt, just a little startled. Murera reprimanded Enkesha for her behavior and the little girl spent the rest of the afternoon browsing by herself. After her little “time-out” Enkesha was a much nicer to Luggard.

05 January 2021

The orphans were up quite early today and ready to exit their stockades. A surprise awaited them, as a large herd of buffaloes were visiting and had made themselves very welcome to the water trough.

Lima Lima and Mwashoti were the first out of their stockades and Lima Lima caught scent of the wild buffalo herd right away. She made her way to the water trough, curious about these newcomers, but as she approached them one of the buffaloes snorted at her, startling Lima Lima a bit. She stumbled backwards a bit and turned around and ran straight to Luggard’s door to protect him. Mwashoti wasn’t far behind, and he too sought refuge in his room even though there was no danger. The Keepers decided it was better for the orphans to stay in their rooms until the buffaloes left.  

Not five minutes later the buffaloes left and the Keepers let the orphans out of the compound. Murera walked out to where the buffaloes had been and did a quick check to make sure they had definitely left. Satisfied, Murera returned to the orphans to continue with their Lucerne feed and a short while later all the orphans left with the Keepers to start their browsing activities. 

06 January 2021

It has become the routine for the semi-independent orphans, the ‘night-clubbers’, to visit the Umani herd at the stockades in the early hours of the morning, but today was a bit different in that only Ngasha visited. As soon as he arrived he went up to Murera first to greet her and then joined the rest at the Lucerne feeding area. Since Zongoloni was treated for the wound on her back a few days ago, we have not seen her. She hasn’t been seen with the night-clubber boys or in the surrounding area. Murera thought that the other night-clubbers might join them today, but when no one turned up she rounded up her little herd, including Ngasha, and everyone made their way out into the bushes to start their day of foraging.  

Luggard and Enkesha continue to have their disagreements.  Today they couldn’t agree on who should accompany Murera. Murera and Lima Lima will always choose to follow Luggard, so despite Enkesha’s insistence, she had to settle for someone else’s company and chose to spend her day with Shukuru. She turned around to see Shukuru already rumbling at her to come and join her; Shukuru could see how the little girl needed some nurturing and reassurance.

A little later in the afternoon a bushbuck walked up to where Lima Lima and Quanza were grazing quietly with Luggard nearby. The bushbuck wasn’t aware the elephant orphans were there and once it saw Lima Lima and Quanza it ran off, leaving a small cloud of dust in its wake. This startled the orphans and they panicked and ran towards the Keepers who had to calm them down.  

Later in the evening as the herd was getting ready to go home Sonje took the lead, followed by Shukuru and Enkesha, and the tail end was brought up by Murera and Lima Lima walking slowly with Luggard between them.

07 January 2021

It was a foggy morning with poor visibility. The Keepers shepherded the orphans towards the springs slowly and carefully as it was very difficult to see if there were any other wild elephants or animals nearby. Lima Lima as usual stayed behind her beloved Keepers, keeping a vigilant eye on her surroundings. The Keepers were so engrossed in their early morning chit-chat that they did not notice a wild bull had joined them, but Lima Lima had. Without drawing any attention to the situation, Lima Lima very cleverly moved the Keepers out of the wild bulls’ way. As soon as the Keepers saw the bull they called out to the other orphans, but in the commotion Luggard was a bit unsure of which way to go. Shukuru was nearby and stepped in, and got Luggard to follow her to join the rest of the herd.

The Umani orphans were still in the forest when Lima Lima and Mwashoti spotted a baby leopard in the trees above. As if to confirm her suspicions, Lima Lima stepped back and raised her trunk to see if she could confirm the scent. She then grabbed a few branches of the tree and started to shake to tree to scare the baby leopard away! The baby leopard didn’t wait to see what would happen next, but jumped into the nearby trees and disappeared, as the orphans carried on their way.

08 January 2021

Mwashoti has been a little unruly with Enkesha recently and today it appears she had had enough. At the dust bath Mwashoti found Enkesha dusting next to Shukuru. He approached Enkesha with the intention of mounting on her but Enkesha wasn’t interested in his advances. The young girl let out a very loud trumpet, alerting everyone in the vicinity that she required assistance in chasing Mwashoti away.

Lima Lima and Sonje who weren’t too far away ran towards Enkesha to see what the problem was, but before these two girls could get to Enkesha, Quanza ran past them straight to her. Upon realizing the situation she simply stood between Mwashoti and Enkesha. The other two girls soon caught up to Quanza and reprimanded Mwashoti for trying to bully Enkesha. The young bull realizing he was in trouble and retreated to join Ngasha, who has been behaving in a similar way with the girls, especially towards Sonje. After watching his friends Ngasha and Jasiri trying to mount the other females, perhaps Mwashoti has picked up these bad habits and thinks he can try this on Enkesha!

For the rest of the day all three boys stayed clear of the girls, as well as the Keepers, as they knew if they tried anything they would be in a lot of trouble; we hope this will stop them from bothering the girls in the future.

09 January 2021

The orphans had a very good start to their morning; everyone had their milk and Lucerne and made their way to the Umani Hill.

As Lima Lima was walking up the hill she spotted some delicious shrubs in the distance. On her way there two crane birds started circling overhead and making quite the racket. Lima Lima stopped a few times waving her trunk at them, but the crane birds didn’t stop. Eventually the noise got too much for Lima Lima and she decided to go in a different direction. The crane birds stopped bothering her and flew off too. Later as the Keepers were going past the delicious shrubs Lima Lima had spotted, they discovered the crane birds had a nest there with four eggs in it. Clearly the birds did not want Lima Lima crushing their eggs and were chasing her away from their nest.

Further up on the Umani Hill Murera moved to join Quanza who was browsing with Enkesha. Quanza was showing Enkesha how to reach the juiciest branches and pull them down and then feast on the green leaves. Quanza spotted Shukuru browsing a little distance away and, not wanting her friend to be alone, Quanza went and joined her so the two browsed together until it was time to go home.

10 January 2021

The cloudy morning today meant that no one wanted to play after their milk bottles and Lucerne feeding so they all decided to make an early start on their browsing activities.

That was all except for Lima Lima however, for today she managed to sneak into the hay store and steal a bale of hay! The Keepers chased her around the compound but to no avail - Lima Lima was apparently feeling very energetic and she knew how to tire the Keepers out. The Keepers gave up and let Lima Lima enjoy her victory, but this meant she was also delayed and had to catch up with her friends. Lima Lima finished her hay and eventually left the compound. This clever girl knows easily how to find her friends, and she sniffed the ground with her trunk where she knew her friends had walked and just followed the scent and soon she was with the herd who had actually not ventured that far.

At the midday feed as the orphans were having their bottles it started to rain. The Keepers rushed to the milk car to get an umbrella which they stood close to Luggard with, as the rest of orphans sought refuge under the trees. Lima Lima, still evidently in a mischievous mood, walked up to Keepers and grabbed the umbrella from them and ran away! Perhaps she didn’t like it next to Luggard, but whatever the reason, a second chase between Lima Lima and the Keepers ensued, with Lima Lima throwing the umbrella before the Keepers could catch up with her. Luckily the Keepers had another umbrella and managed to use that to keep Luggard dry.  

11 January 2021

The night-clubbers have been away for almost over two weeks, but when they arrived last night the Keepers were happy to see that all six of them had arrived together. 

Murera loves her boys dearly, but their recent behavior of chasing her, Sonje and Lima Lima to try and mount on them has her more aggravated these days. She knows that with the Keepers help however they should be able to keep the bulls in check. Ngasha is also very aware that if he misbehaves too much and allows Alamaya to get away with bad behavior that they will be told off by the older girls and the Keepers.

When the other night-clubbers left, Alamaya and Ngasha stayed with the Umani herd. Shukuru and Enkesha were not too pleased either with Alamaya and Ngasha re-joining the herd. They have seen how the boys chase the older girls and don’t want to be on the receiving end of such attention. We are sure they are going to keep their distance from the two boys, as will Luggard.  

12 January 2021

Quanza has received the stamp of approval from both Murera and Lima Lima as a good babysitter for Luggard. On several occasions, when Lima Lima or Murera have been busy browsing, they have seen how Quanza has adequately looked after Luggard with great tenderness and care.

Today Murera and Lima Lima got a little carried away whilst browsing and moved away from Luggard without realizing how far they had gone. When Lima Lima looked around and didn’t see Luggard, she rumbled to Murera to alert her, but when both girls looked in the distance they could see Quanza had already gone up to Luggard and wrapped her trunk around his head to comfort him. Luggard felt very safe and Lima Lima and Murera were very happy to see this. They now know that Quanza can stand in for them at anytime.

Just before the midday milk feed Lima Lima heard some very loud trumpeting coming from a distance and Lima Lima’s first instinct was to run towards Luggard, but she saw he was happily browsing with Shukuru and Quanza. Shukuru seemed unperturbed by noise and Luggard looked very cozy and safe next to Quanza.  

At the dust bath, Ngasha moved to the top of soil mound and lay down and Mwashoti, who was in a playful mood, started to rub his big belly on Ngasha’s head. This annoyed Ngasha, so instead of enjoying his dusting, Ngasha pushed Mwashoti away and got up and walked away from the soil. Alamaya and Ngasha were latecomers to the stockades this evening; they arrived well after the rest of the babies had settled into their rooms, ready to sleep.

13 January 2021

Today when Ngasha joined the Umani herd during their browsing activities, he spotted Lima Lima tending to Luggard. Somehow Ngasha managed to get really close to Lima Lima without her noticing and without any warning he tried to mount Lima Lima, startling her and in the process also startling Luggard. Luggard stepped back a bit and Lima Lima ran to get away from Ngasha, and so ensued the chase that Lima Lima had been trying to avoid.  

Quanza stepped in right away, taking Luggard under her care. The little boy watched as Ngasha persistently chased Lima Lima. Sonje and Murera came to where Quanza was with Luggard to check on him but they saw that Quanza had already done a good job of looking after the young boy.  They all gave him trunk hugs as they know how comforting this is for the young boy. After a while Ngasha gave up chasing Lima Lima and knew he had upset the Umani herd so he kept his distance and browsed away from the herd.

At the midday milk feed Sonje decided to forgo her milk bottle and instead was seen taking both Alamaya and Ngasha away from the herd, as though to have a very long chat with them about their behavior. Whatever she must have communicated to them seemed to work as both boys calmed down and browsed peacefully for the rest of the day. Murera and the Keepers also made sure to keep a keen eye on these two naughty boys.

14 January 2021

The Umani herd was greeted this morning by very loud trumpeting and the sound of crashing trees. It seems that a wild herd of elephants was passing through the forest nearby. Amongst this herd were Alamaya and Ngasha as well, who had decided to stay out for the night.

The two boys, despite their naughty behavior yesterday, were welcomed with much joy today, by Sonje in particular, but not by Shukuru and Luggard. As soon as they saw the two boisterous boys arrive, Shukuru and Luggard made sure to stay clear of them. They do not like the antics of these two boys, so they sought out the company of the Keepers who were having their tea and catching up with each other. They knew as long as they were close to the Keepers they would be safe.

Towards the end of the day, just before it was time for the orphans to make their way back to the stockades, Ngasha looked like he was about to misbehave again but he gave up on this plan as soon he looked around and saw that he would be most certainly reprimanded by the girls. Instead Alamaya and Ngasha decided to spend the night in the forest and the two bulls the herd left shortly after. We are not sure why Zongoloni decided to drop Alamaya and Ngasha off with the Umani herd the other day but she clearly didn’t need them with the rest of the night-clubbers.

15 January 2021

Today Shukuru was feeling rather unwell, she had a tummy upset and this was making her a bit miserable. Lima Lima and Quanza walked up to her but when they saw Shukuru wanted to be left alone, they thought maybe Sonje might be able to lift the girls’ spirits, but Shukuru didn’t respond to Sonje’s greeting either.

The Keepers moved in haste to prepare the medication they knew Shukuru needed, but Shukuru with her strong sense of smell caught the scent of the medicine bag and disappeared into bushes. After a bit of searching, they found Shukuru browsing peacefully and administered the shot right away.

Luggard and Enkesha were quite pleased at having found a small mud hole and proceeded to wallow in it right away. Just to make sure the two youngest of the herd were fine, Quanza and Sonje walked over to inspect and saw that both of them were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Realizing that the mud bath was too small for the older orphans, the older girls walked away leaving Luggard and Enkesha to enjoy their mud bath whilst the older orphans went over to their usual one. Mwashoti saw that Ngasha was in the mud and decided to ride on his back. This time Ngasha played along and let his friend carry on with his games.

16 January 2021

In the middle of the night the Keepers on night shift heard some commotion just outside the fence line. It sounded like elephant footsteps, but because it was so dark, the Keepers couldn’t tell whether this was a wild herd or their beloved night-clubbers paying them a visit. The Keepers started to call out the names of the night-clubbers, one after the other. After a few minutes Faraja and Zongoloni appeared at the gates and greeted the Keepers. The Keepers hoped they would stay until morning, even Shukuru rumbled a greeting at Zongoloni, but it seems they were in a hurry. As soon as they were done at the water trough Zongoloni walked off towards the bushes, and the night-clubbers disappeared into the night.

After last night’s visit, the Keepers were hopeful that the night-clubbers would return to join the Umani herd in the morning, but no one showed up. Murera got the orphans ready after their milk and Lucerne feed to start their day. Half an hour later, both Alamaya and Ngasha appeared from the bushes, looking rather tired after all the walking they must have done during the night. It seemed as if they were coming from very far away, and had parted ways with Zongoloni and her crew.  

Later in the day Ngasha was making his way over to the waterhole when Mwashoti stood in his path, blocking him from moving any further. It seems the bulls then came to some sort of agreement, as Mwashoti moved aside and allowed Ngasha access to the waterhole. Quanza and Lima Lima moved to be closer to Sonje and Murera, and they all surrounded Luggard in a protective circle. All you could see was Luggard’s little head between the legs of the older girls.

17 January 2021

Ngasha’s boisterous behaviour got him into quite a bit of trouble today. It seems he has given up pursuing Lima Lima but now set his sights on little Enkesha. Ngasha tried to mount her but Enkesha was obviously unhappy, she let her disapproval be known by letting out a very loud trumpet, alerting the rest of the herd to come and help her. Lima Lima looked up and saw her little friend was in trouble but hesitated because of the way Ngasha behaved with her yesterday. The other two older girls, Sonje and Murera, took charge and stepped in right away, chasing Ngasha away from Enkesha. The girls made sure Ngasha knew that his behavior was simply unacceptable.

The Keepers also saw what was going on and stepped in to support Sonje and Murera in reprimanding the young bull. Ngasha, knowing how much trouble he was in, ran off, with Sonje and Murera still chasing him. When they returned they found Luggard nestled between Shukuru and Lima Lima, browsing away happily, and the Keepers with Enkesha.

18 January 2021

Shukuru is a rather quiet elephant, preferring her own company most days, so when she does happen to trumpet, we know she must be very excited about something; today was one of those days.

Alamaya and Ngasha returned to the Umani herd this morning after a night out and when Shukuru saw them, she slowed down to walk behind them, out of their sight. As she was browsing in the forest she spotted a kaleidoscope of different butterflies. This made her so happy that she let out a very loud and joyful trumpet and started to chase them. Lima Lima was close by and curious to see what had made her friend Shukuru all excited. Then she saw the butterflies too and the two girls proceeded to blow their trunks at the butterflies and chase them around the forest in what looked like a comedy caper. Their game came to an abrupt end however when Lima Lima accidentally slipped on some grass and toppled over.  

Enkesha decided to join Quanza and Shukuru who were browsing under the shade of some trees and later Shukuru decided to take nap, tired from all the running and chasing after the butterflies. Murera walked around looking for Luggard and was happy to find that Quanza, who has proved to be a very good babysitter, was with Luggard. Everyone made their way out of the forest with Quanza and Luggard walking slowly bringing up the tail end of the herd. Lima Lima decided to escort Quanza and Luggard, with Sonje looking on, very happy to see the two younger girls sharing responsibility of Luggard.

19 January 2021

In their rush to start foraging this morning, some of the orphans did not notice the swarm of army ants outside the stockade compound. One of them was Enkesha, as she was running out, she stepped on the army ants and got bit on the feet; the poor girl had never experienced this before and the sting from the bites made Enkesha run around. The Keepers came to her rescue right away, calling out to her using all her sweet nicknames. She eventually calmed down and allowed the Keepers to pluck the army ants off the bottom of her feet. Soon enough, Enkesha was back to her energetic self and joined Shukuru. Lima Lima stayed with Sonje and Murera to ensure Luggard stayed away from the army ants.

After their midday milk bottle today, all the orphans gathered round the waterhole but seemed hesitant to enter. In the end Lima Lima decided to test the waters. She stepped in with one foot and realized the water was too cold to swim. She walked over to Murera and Luggard and reported her findings after which everyone followed Murera to rest under the shade of some acacia trees.

Two crane birds were caught unawares by Quanza today. They had a nest nearby with one bird hatching the eggs and the other one standing guard. The one standing guard had not noticed Quanza so the Quanza walked to where nest was, the crane bird who was on guard duty got startled and flew off, startling also the one hatching the eggs. Quanza not knowing what happened, assumed there was danger nearby and ran off trumpeting. It was quite a comical scene for Keepers.

20 January 2021

Last night there was a lot of commotion heard in the forest just outside the stockades. The Umani herd were quite unsettled, especially Sonje and Murera who felt perhaps it was the night-clubbers coming to visit them. It turned out that it was the night-clubbers but with their wild friends. Alamaya and Ngasha had brought a wild bull with them who had caught the scent of Keepers and was curious to see what was beyond the stockade gate. Faraja and Ziwa, the two responsible boys managed to chase the young bull away, to keep him from getting into the stockade.

In the early morning, Zongoloni and her boys left, leaving behind Alamaya and Ngasha with the Umani herd. Before the orphans could start their morning browsing activities, Murera walked up to Ngasha and the older girl rumbled at the young bull; it seemed as though Murera was warning Ngasha that if wanted to stay with the Umani herd he cannot continue with his bad behaviour. We saw a very calm side to Alamaya today, unlike when he first returned from the wild. The young bull would fight with Mwashoti to have dominance over him, but not today. Today both boys browsed separately but peacefully, but Sonje kept an eye on Alamaya at all times. Murera and Lima Lima decided to take a break for themselves, and handed over Luggard to Shukuru and Quanza who proved to be excellent care givers to the young bull.

The orphans peaceful browsing was disrupted by Ngasha, despite several warnings from the older girls and the Keepers. Ngasha spotted Lima Lima wallowing in the mud and made a beeline for her. However as soon as Lima Lima saw Ngasha approaching she left the waterhole and ran to get away from the naughty bull. This time it took Murera, Sonje and the Keepers to put an end to Ngasha’s chase.

21 January 2021

Alamaya spent the night right outside the stockade next the fence which is closest to Murera and Sonje’s room. He knew in case he ran into any trouble, the girls would alert the Keepers who would come to his rescue right away.

As morning approached, the Keepers got busy mixing the milk for the orphans; Alamaya got up from his bushy bed and joined the Keepers in waiting for the Umani herd to rouse from their warm quarters. Ngasha was nowhere to be seen but would come to join the orphans later. When he came he tried to mount Enkesha but the Keepers chased him away. Ngasha, rather embarrassed, trumpeted back at the Keepers as though to show them he wasn’t embarrassed but then tried to hide his face in the bushes as he felt the older girls watching him. Enkesha made sure to steer clear of Ngasha and spend the rest of the day browsing with Shukuru, away from the rest of the herd.  

The rest of the day passed peacefully, with all the orphans busy browsing. Every now and then you could hear the sounds of their trunks pulling down branches and leaves. Lima Lima was left in charge of Luggard whilst Murera and Sonje moved up further to the top of the Umani Hill, where it is difficult for Luggard to walk. Luggard was happy in Lima Lima’s company and in the far distance we could hear Ngasha thrashing about in the forest, charging in the bushes and trumpeting loudly. He kept his distance from the Umani herd for the rest of the day as he felt quite remorseful about his earlier behaviour with Enkesha.

22 January 2021

At the midday mud bath today, a large swarm of bees flew over the orphans and Keepers. Elephants don’t like bees and the orphans ran in the opposite direction of the bees and Keepers ran in the same direction with their dustcoats covering their face. Only Shukuru was left standing by herself. She looked around wondering what the commotion was and not seeing anything wrong she carried on foraging.

Lima Lima was very clever, and to avoid any further attention from the bees, she walked calmly over to where Luggard was and ushered the boy away from the bees and covered him with her large ears. One of the Keepers ducked out from his hiding place to do a quick head count of the orphans, and, not realizing there were still some bees close by, got stung on the ear. The Head Keeper had his medicine bag with him and put some cream on the sting.

Later Mwashoti and Ngasha were standing by a soil mound plucking leaves from a nearby tree. Unbeknownst to them, the dust mound was the entrance to a warthog den. The warthog must have sensed movement at his doorstep and to scare whatever was outside, the warthog shot out from its hole, leaving a dust cloud behind. Mwashoti and Ngasha were caught completely off guard and thought they were being attacked so both boys ran off in opposite directions to the safety of the forest where the rest of the orphans were.  

23 January 2021

There was an air of excitement today, as the stockade orphans got ready to start their day. The orphans were walking out to browse when they were joined by Zongoloni and the other night-clubbers.

Zongoloni and Ziwa first made a stop at the Lucerne corner to have some leftover pellets and then caught up with the Umani herd. Loud happy trumpets from Quanza and Sonje welcomed the night-clubbers. The orphans were overjoyed to see their friends after a long absence. The Keepers noted how big Faraja and Ziwa looked; the bulls appeared strong and healthy. In all the greetings Murera forgot about Luggard but luckily Lima Lima and Quanza were looking after him. The happiest was Enkesha, overjoyed to see her best Zongoloni. The two spent a lot of time together, no doubt exchanging stories about their adventures. Enkesha was perhaps telling Zongoloni about her altercation with Ngasha and Zongoloni telling Enkesha all about life out in the wild.

At the midday mud bath today, all the orphans were present and the Keepers were so pleased to see all their babies together. Lima Lima was a bit naughty and pulled on Jasiri’s tail, not remembering that Jasiri was almost a wild bull behaving in the way bulls do out in the wild. Jasiri chased Lima Lima to reprimand her but the Keepers stepped in to avoid the situation from escalating.

24 January 2021

Two wild bull friends were spotted watching the night-clubbers with great curiosity. They stood quite a distance away and could not understand how their friends, Zongoloni and the five boys, were mingling with humans; especially Faraja and Jasiri who were so happy to see the Keepers. 

The night-clubbers and the Umani herd spent a lovely day browsing together again. When it was time to part ways, Enkesha decided to leave with her friend Zongoloni. The little girl was very curious to see where her friend goes every time she leaves. Zongoloni was very pleased and started to walk away with Enkesha, when one of the Keepers who was nearby stopped Enkesha from leaving. This forced Zongoloni to stay back with Enkesha, but she evidently told the boys to carry on towards the Chyulu Hills, with their two wild bull friends from earlier.

Ziwa and Faraja were following their two wild bull friends and urging them to walk faster, when Ngasha tried to stop them. He did not want to see his friends leave, because he enjoyed the stories Ziwa shared about their wild adventures. Zongoloni took this chance to sneak off with Enkesha again, thinking the Keepers wouldn’t notice, but they did. The Keepers called to Enkesha right away. The Keepers know that Enkesha is far too young to be out in the wild yet, and as she still very much milk dependent, she is not ready yet to make the move.  

25 January 2021

Alamaya was the first night-clubber to join Murera and the Umani herd today. At that time Murera was busy with Lima Lima and Luggard, as they were walking out into the forest slowly. Shortly after, once they were in the forest, Zongoloni also joined them.

Enkesha was overjoyed to see her friend Zongoloni again, as was Zongoloni. Both greeted each other with joyful trumpets and a lot of trunk hugs, as Shukuru watched on. It always amazes the Keepers to see the two girls greet each other, but it is a testament to how much love they share for each other. Enkesha misses Zongoloni a lot when she is absent for a long time.

Ziwa and Faraja did not turn up today, leaving just Zongoloni to browse with the orphans today, whilst keeping an eye on Ngasha and Alamaya too. Shukuru and Sonje moved towards the water pool to quench their thirst and when Shukuru waded into the water a sleeping crocodile suddenly jumped out of the way to avoid being stepped on; this made Sonje think there might be more crocodiles in the water so she started to splash the water with her feet to scare them off. The only animal that got disturbed by all the splashing was a solo terrapin, who walked out of the water past the elephants and disappeared into the grass.

26 January 2021

It was a very heartwarming start for little Enkesha. As she was getting ready to exit the compound she spotted Zongoloni approaching the stockades. This was such a nice surprise for the little girl as she was not expecting to see Zongoloni today. Zongoloni was just as happy to see Enkesha and greeted her little friend by hugging her back with her trunk and touching Enkesha’s cheek and belly. The night-clubber boys did not make an appearance today, and we hope that Zongoloni’s visit meant she wanted to spend more time with Umani herd, especially Enkesha who dotes on Zongoloni and trusts her very much. These visits strengthen and maintain the bond between the orphans.  

Today the soil pile was a very busy area with Shukuru, Luggard, Sonje and Murera all taking turns one after the other. It was very endearing to watch Luggard scoop a trunkful of dust to throw over his back and Murera behind him helping him dust by digging and loosening the soil with her tusks. Quanza then joined Luggard and Murera to see if Murera needed to do her own dusting whilst she stood watch over Luggard.

The temperature continued to rise in the afternoon so some of the orphans decided to take a break from the heat by resting under the shade of some trees. Mwashoti and Quanza had a different idea however; they decided to head to the waterhole and cool their hot bodies there by wallowing in the mud. The rest of the orphans followed suit, the mud looked too cool and enticing not to wallow. The orphans spent a better part of the afternoon in the mud bath.

27 January 2021

The Keepers were quite surprised to see Zongoloni asking for a milk bottle today! At the midday bottle feed Zongoloni tried to persuade Mwashoti to part with one of his milk bottles, but the bull did not relinquish either of his bottles. Zongoloni has been out in the wild for a while now so the Keepers had stopped preparing her bottle, but they decided to give her one of the extra ones.

After the orphans had their midday bottles, they all ventured further into the bushes to forage as none of the babies wanted to wallow. As the orphans were walking away Quanza got separated and lost track of her friends. After walking through the bushes for a while she finally heard the Keepers calling her and followed their voices hoping to re-join her friends, and found the Keepers having their tea. She looked around but could not see the rest of the herd. Luggard caught scent of Quanza and realized she must be looking for them, so he rumbled hoping Quanza would be able to follow the sound. Quanza waited until Lima Lima came to find her and once she was reunited Quanza was very happy to be with her friends again.

28 January 2021

Zongoloni arrived late at the stockades this morning; the orphans had already had their milk bottles and were getting ready to start their day of browsing. Zongoloni demanded a milk bottle from the Keepers, hoping they would indulge her as they did yesterday. The bottle she received yesterday was also in a way to distract her so that the Keepers could check on her wound and clean it. Her wound was healing well so there was no bottle for Zongoloni today. Disappointed the older girl followed the rest of the herd out and foraged with her friend Enkesha.

Lima Lima, Sonje, Murera and Luggard made their way to the waterhole. It was quite a hot day and Lima Lima managed to persuade Sonje and Quanza to join her in the mud bath. Luggard stood by the mud bath watching the older girls. Once of the Keepers took a shovel and proceeded to splash some water and mud on Luggard as they know it is not possible for Luggard to be in the mud bath when all the other orphans are there too.  

A disagreement broke out between Alamaya and Mwashoti. The Keepers saw them fighting and thought it was just boys being boys, pushing and testing each other’s strength. The fight got a bit intense though and so Ngasha decided to intervene to put a stop to the disagreement, but backed down when Alamaya pushed him hard. In the end Sonje, who had been observing from a distance, had to use her matriarchal tactics to separate the two boys before the fight could escalate any further. The disagreement was over a stick that both Alamaya and Mwashoti claimed to have found.

29 January 2021

Murera, Lima Lima and Luggard came across two crane birds that were blocking their path. Lima Lima wanted to pass but the birds wouldn’t move so Lima Lima decided to trumpet very loudly, scaring the poor birds who flew away. It was only after this that Luggard and Lima Lima noticed that the birds were protecting their nest that had their eggs. The birds were worried that the elephants might step on their nest. Lima Lima and Luggard very carefully walked past the nest without disturbing it, as did the Keepers, after taking a few photos. After a few minutes we saw the crane birds return and settle back on the nest.

Right after the midday bottles Zongoloni decided to take a walk, and when Enkesha saw her friend moving away, she ran towards her to join her, letting out an ecstatic trumpet of joy as she ran towards Zongoloni. The path that Zongoloni wanted to take was blocked by a herd of buffaloes, so she slowed down whilst figuring out an alternative route. Zongoloni and Enkesha walked past the buffaloes slowly so as not to disturb them but cheeky Enkesha couldn’t help herself and let out another loud trumpet, sending the buffaloes running in the opposite direction, and clearing the path for her and her friend. Sonje, Ngasha and Shukuru also decided to follow Zongoloni and Enkesha on their walk.

30 January 2021

The three night-clubber boys, Jasiri, Faraja and Ziwa arrived this morning with a plan of persuading Zongoloni to re-join them. Zongoloni seems fully imbedded within the Umani herd at the moment, happy to be with her friends again with no plans of returning to the wild anytime soon. She indulged the boys, by going part of the way into the forest with them, but then turned around and joined Shukuru and Enkesha.

It seems Zongoloni thinks that now she has returned to the Umani herd, that the Keepers will always have a milk bottle for her. Zongoloni is a big girl and does not need the milk, so when the Keepers did not give her a milk bottle today, she rumbled her complaint quite loudly and strongly.  

Mwashoti joined Alamaya and Ngasha at the soil mounds today. Ngasha was napping on the soil and Mwashoti took the chance to be naughty and rubbed his belly on Ngasha’s head. Today Ngasha was in a good mood so he did not mind so much.  

When it was time to go home at the end of the day, Murera and Shukuru put their head together to decide who would take the lead and who would bring up the rear end, but then Shukuru seemed more interested in what Murera was eating instead. Murera dropped what she was eating and Shukuru didn’t seem as interested anymore.

31 January 2021

It was quite dark this morning when the orphans decided to leave for the forest. The Keepers failed to see a wild elephant herd approaching the orphans, but Zongoloni sensed them right away. She walked up to the wild herd and was there for awhile, perhaps explaining that Murera and Sonje were the matriarchs of this herd, before welcoming them to join the Umani herd.

Murera was not too happy about the newcomers and moved away with Shukuru and Luggard. It was only Quanza and Lima Lima who gave their new friends some company and walked with them. The Keepers decided to observe the interaction from a distance, between the Umani herd and their new wild friends, not wanting to “spook” the wild elephants as they are not used to being around humans.  

Lima Lima, Zongoloni and Enkesha enjoyed mingling with the wild elephants, and did so without any problems, but Lima Lima didn’t stay long because duty beckoned. She knew her responsibility towards Luggard and so after a while she re-joined Murera and Quanza, giving them a much needed break.