Keepers' Diaries, July 2014

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The five Umani girls, Murera, Sonje, Quanza, Lima Lima and Zongoloni are extremely content in their new stockade compound located in the Kibwezi forest. Every day they leave their stockades happily, ready to learn more about the Umani area and the keepers too. Each day brings new excitement as they explore their surroundings and all the new sights, smells, sounds and experiences.

01 July 2014

The elephants stopping for lucern is now a routine thing at the beginning of the day. Zongoloni and Quanza were enjoying water before soil dusting and browsing. Zongoloni raised her trunk to smell the wild ones in the bush before Sonje led the group off to browse.

02 July 2014

Murera and Sonje lead their small group to the waterhole near the stockade before heading off to browse. Zongoloni smelled the wild bulls that were in thick bush nearby while Sonje scratched against a small tree where she was soon joined by Murera.

03 July 2014

Murera started by going round her stocked following the smell of the wild elephants that had passed by during the night. Sonje had to scratch her bottom due to lots of ticks disturbing her and were not used to in the Nairobi. They later came to the tall grass and Zongoloni took the lead. The orphans had a drink at the waterhole before walking back to the lodge to enjoy the mud wallow made by near there wild elephants. They all had a lovely time.

04 July 2014

The orphans are really enjoying the lush vegetation at Umani. Quanza took the lead to the waterhole located near the stockade. Quanza and Lima Lima at first browsed apart from the others but were quick to rejoin the group after they heard a bush baby crying. Lima Lima had a big bunch of grass in her mouth as they walked to the concrete pavement where they enjoyed feeding and from where Murera could smell the big elephants who were passing nearby. In the night wild bulls came to the stockade rumbling a lot causing the keepers to come out of their tent to see what was going on. The keepers had to stay with Murera and Sonje overnight to calm following the visit from the wild bulls.

05 July 2014

The day started, and the orphans walked into the bush with Murera and Sonje leading the herd. The elephants were having a good morning grazing and exploring different areas of the bush. The morning flew by and in good time the elephants walked to the mudbath. Lima lima went to the waterhole as it seemed the milk wasn’t enough to satisfy her thirst, while Quanza went to search for acacia pods and was soon joined by Lima lima. After the mudhole Lima lima and Sonje led the herd to the waterhole quite close to Umani Springs where they all enjoyed wallowing before they each found different trees and rocks to rub their bums and scratch themselves. Quanza then started a huge dust war which all the orphans took part in.

06 July 2014

The sun rose and it was a beautiful day for the babies to be out. The orphans had been visited by a wild herd of elephants during the night so once the doors of the stockade were open they were all very curious as to who these elephants were and tried to follow their path. The keepers saw this an were very worried about leaving Murera to find this wild herd, as a wild herd can be very temperamental at times and as such the keepers tried to lead them in a different direction. The elephants relaxed in the bushes before going to the waterhole for the 11am milk feed. Sonje enjoyed the dustbath before Quanza decided that it was time to lead the group out to browse. She led them to the pipeline where they showed great interest in the pipes as they tried to sit on them, sniff them and even taste them.

07 July 2014

After coming out from the stockades, Murera walked into the thick dry grass to feed in the morning where she was joined by Sonje and the rest of the group. Quanza tried to lead the group away but Sonje was lying down and did not seem to want to move despite all of Zongolonis efforts to pull her and get her up. Lima lima is very greedy and is always looking to see if there is any milk left in the bottles, but there never is which leaves her disappointed. It was a hot day so the elephants all enjoyed wallowing in the mud bath after which they came out looking black like buffaloes as the mud at Umani is a very dark colour.

08 July 2014

After a long chilly night, Murera and Lima lima exited the stockade and made their way towards some bushes near the stockade where they had heard Guinea fowls screaming during the night, but were quick to return to their keepers who calmed them down and led them away from the area where they were joined by Sonje and Zongoloni. Murera took Lima lima to the long grass to browse, while Quanza, Zongoloni and Sonje, joined them one after the other. The orphans walked to the Umani springs but looked very unsettled and were quick to return to the picnic site. The keepers later realised that the elephants had spotted a buffalo having a drink near the springs and that is why they were so quick to leave.

09 July 2014

Another wonderful day began well for the babies. The keepers took the orphans out of the stockade with Lima lima racing out before anyone else could so that she could be the first one to have her milk and begin browsing at the delicious nearby bushes.

10 July 2014

The girls looked happy to be out for the new day enjoying the greens and learning more about the Umani area and the keepers too. In the bush, Quanza lead the orphans for their milk, and later to the waterhole near the stockades. After the milk feed, Quanza and Sonje went to the water hole to continue drinking and eating grass. It seems that this grass that they eat is very dry which makes them drink constantly. In the evening the babies all had their milk bottle and one by one went to sleep with Lima Lima and Murera being the last to settle down for the night.

11 July 2014

When the elephants got up, Lima lima decided to take the babies round the bush even before the milk feed. However, once the elephants saw their milk coming the adventure with Limal lima was over because milk seemed to be a far better idea. Murera felt that it would be a good idea to cool down by splashing water all over herself. As for Sonje, she took the babies for a walk near to where the keepers were sitting, the elephants joined the keepers for a few minutes touching and smelling them. Today the elephants browsed continuously. On the way home the elephants encountered a baby baboon which had been separated from its mother. The baboon screamed as the orphans passed by which caused the orphans to trumpet loudly and charge about. elephants were en route to go home a baby baboon had been separated from its mother Quanza was very afraid and ran into the thick bush. The keepers helped by leading the elephants away from the baboon before returning to ensure that it had been reunited with its mother.

12 July 2014

It was a very hot day and as such the keepers were not surprised that the orphans raced to the mud wallow near the lodge, where they all wallowed for a good hour or so, throwing mud and dust everywhere. A terrapin popped its little head out of the water which scared Quanza and Zongoloni to the extent that they both ran out of the water in complete fear of this weird little creature. Murera was quick to follow them and she ran straight to Lima lima who was busy feasting on acacia pods hanging in the trees. Lima lima seemed to be very itchy today as she rolled around several times in the grass and the soil. Eventually Lima lima led the orphans back home, with Murera and Sonje walking behind slowly.

13 July 2014

The day began well with the elephants looking very happy and excited. Greedy Lima lima was browsing next to Quanza and Murera in the long grass where she was doing her absolute best to eat all the grass before anyone else could have a taste. Amos was enjoying feeding the orphans grassy titbits. Sonje was bitten by many tsetse flies which caused her to become very agitated and irritated as she scratching constantly trying to alleviate the itch from the bits After having their milk bottles, the orphans headed to the pipeline where Quanza found a pipe that had broken. She had a lovely time playing in the clean water that leaked out of the pipe.

14 July 2014

The milk was late this morning so the elephants were very agitated with the keepers. The reason for the delay was because two wild elephant bulls crossed one of the roads that we use to transport the milk down and decided to stop right in the centre of the road blocking the keepers from getting past and the keepers had to be patient and wait till the elephants decided to move, which they did about an hour later. The keepers that were with the orphans had been informed of the situation via radio.

15 July 2014

Today, the milk was on time and Lima Lima was happy about this. Sonje was the first to begin browsing in the thick bush. Quanza and Zongoloni walked to the quarry water hole, they enjoyed feeding on routes and greens. Zongoloni led the way to the mud bath where Lima lima was the star as she rolled around in the mud turning herself a black colour. Her antics were watched by the rest of the group as well as a troupe of baboons.

16 July 2014

The day began well with all the orphans in a good mood as usual. After being let out, the elephants tried to follow a path that was made during the night by a passing wild herd, the elephants smelt their dung and tried to pick up the scent, but the wild herd was long gone. At mud bath time, all the elephants wallowed in the mud. Murera had a great time wallowing but she seemed to go in the mud to try and get rid of all the tsetse flies that are constantly nipping her. After the mud bath the orphans went to browse on the green grasslands, before returning home. On the way back to the stockades a baby bush buck crossed the road surprising Quanza who quickly ran to the stockades.

17 July 2014

Quanza led the babies out this morning but was unsure as to which direction to go as she was very wary of running into the buck from the night before. As such she stayed very close to the keepers. Lima lima was browsing next to the keepers, while Murera was busy scratching before joining the others at the mud bath and for a roll in the grass.

18 July 2014

The elephants continued their daily activities with Quanza and the others babies enjoying browsing, before their midday bottles. After having their milk they went to scratch against some rocks before heading into the bush where they came across a huge mud bath that had been caused by a leak in the pipe from the springs. They all had a lot of fun playing in the mud and water before settling down to browse on some soft greens.

19 July 2014

When the orphans got out to the bush, Quanza led Sonje and Murera to feed in the nearby surroundings where Murera found a very lush spot in which she spent quite some time eating away at all the tasty greens. Lima lima on the other hand had been thinking of milk time as a minute or two to feeding time she was ready and waiting for her bottles. After having their milk, the orphans headed in the direction of the Quarry waterhole where they all had a very good mudbath, with Sonje swimming and exploring all that was underwater while Lima lima was far too interested in feeding her belly than any sort of play time. The rest of the orphans ate soft greens, before going to stockades.

20 July 2014

Lima lima, despite being greedy, is the most social and lovely baby whom the keepers rely on for entertainment as she is always doing something naughty. Today she picked up the scent of a wild elephant and within seconds she was seeking refuge behind some of the keepers. She was also bitten by a tsetse fly with caused complete and utter chaos as she ran around trumpeting in irritation before the keepers managed to remove the offending fly. She then led the group to the waterhole near the stockades for a bath, where they met a few buffalo who quickly moved away once they saw the group of very excited elephants. After the mudbath, Zongoloni took the orphans to eat pods and acacia roots which were hanging on the trees and lying on the ground. Later that evening when coming back home, Lima lima took a hundred meters sprint to the stockades for her beloved milk. The keepers made her wait for the rest of the group to arrive so that they could have their milk together.

21 July 2014

Last night, wild bull elephants were roaming around till very late making lots of noise around the stockades forcing the keepers to come out to check that the babies were all alright. Once the elephants saw the keepers they all wanted to get out of the stockades which caused more disturbance within the herd. It was far too early to let the elephants out so they had to be patient. During the day at the water hole, Zongoloni took the orphans for a walk through the forest with Murera brining up the rear as she sometimes struggles to walk and keep up with the rest. When it was almost time to come back home, the crane birds, took off making their unique sounds flying off into the sunset and of course Lima lima got very scared by this and as usual came and hide behind the keepers.

22 July 2014

The previous night, wild elephants came to the stockades again to see the orphans and catch up, during their visit they pushed down a whole tree and left all the elephants rumbling and feeling very agitated. When the morning came, Lima lima walked to the long grass to browse after visiting with the keepers for a while. She seemed to want them to do something and they only figured out what once they saw her scratching to try and remove the ticks that were on her. The keepers helped her and the then happily rejoined Zongoloni and the others for a browsing session. During the day Murera was constantly scratching her bottom. She had fun at the mud wallow where she got some wet soil and tried to splash her chest. Her antics were copied by Quanza who was interested in what Murera was up to. In the afternoon a hornbill let out a loud call which scared all the elephants and caused them all to turn and run into the bush and it took a while for the keepers to coax them out again.

23 July 2014

Zongoloni looked very jovial and strong this morning. Although she hadn’t even started eating yet her stomach was huge! She gets different milk from the older orphans as she is the youngest. Sonje saw that Zongoloni was moving towards the bushes to browse and she followed her together with Murera. After the midday milk feed, the orphans went to the acacia pods where they spent some time sheltered from the sun and resting in the shade before walking back to the stockades in the evening.

24 July 2014

Sonje patrolled the tall grass, and followed the smell of wild elephants. Murera was close behind her but stopped suddenly as it seemed her bum was really itchy and there was no going further until she had a good scratch. Lima lima ran to her milk, she must think the quicker she gets there the more she will get but every feeding time she is disappointed because she gets the exact same amount as everyone else. After feeding she walked very slowly to the keepers to show them that she had a thorn in her foot which they were quick to remove. Zongoloni and Lima lima took a walk and left Quanza holding onto her bottle until she was completely satisfied that she had drunk every last drop of milk.

25 July 2014

We all left early this morning for the bush with Sonje walking very close to Aden trying to hint to him that she wanted greens, Aden realised this so he began picking greens for her. This action was seen by Lima lima who ran over to try and steal Sonje’s treats. When they finished taking their milk bottles at noon Sonje, Zongoloni and Lima lima went on in search of acacia pods which they absolutely love. The orphans slowly made their way to the stockades in the evening.

26 July 2014

It was a beautiful day with sweet little Lima lima staying very close to the keepers whom she loves and will always go to when alone or unsure of something. Today the orphans and keepers came across a herd of wild elephants pushing down trees and browsing. Murera and Sonje spotted them first and quickly came to find the rest of the babies that were with the keepers. The wild herd didn’t pick up the orphans scent so the keepers led the babies in a different direction. When we were all walking home the elephants stopped as they seemed picked up a sense of something that was not right. A few minutes later the keepers spotted a python, that had recently eaten something, curled up behind a rock,

27 July 2014

While out in the bush the babies spotted a herd of buffalos lying down under a tree. Quanza, Zongoloni and Lima lima went back to the keepers who led them in the opposite direction as buffaloes can be temperamental. The lava stones in the area make it very difficult to walk so the keepers sometimes struggle to keep up with the orphans. The elephants headed to the springs today and upon arriving the crocodiles that were lying on the bank slid back into the water as Lima lima and Zongoloni plunged into the water. The the keepers gathered the elephants together at the end of the day so that they could head back to the stockades.

28 July 2014

The elephants went to the mud hole and it seems that the mud helps the elephants to remove ticks from their body and get rid of tsetse flies. Murera got down on her knees while enjoying her mud bath before lying on her belly for a scratch. After the mud bath the journey to the broken pipeline began. The orphans love the pipeline as there is so much for them so see and do, as well as so much clean drinking water for them to enjoy.

29 July 2014

The Orphans all got up early for a morning feed in the browsing fields where Sonje got a lovely branch and began peeling off the bark to taste the sweetness. This made Lima lima very jealous and she tried everything she could to get the branch from Sonje but to no avail. While the orphans were having their milk bottles, a vervet monkey came and started shouting loudly which made Lima lima trumpet. The poor little monkey got such a fright that it ran away very quickly, leaving Lima lima feeling very confident.