Keepers' Diaries, July 2015

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The dry season has gripped the Kibwezi Forest now and rain is not expected until late October. Thankfully with the springs and forest there remains plenty of food for the orphans and their wild friends, in fact the forest becomes a haven for all the wild animals within the ecosystem during the dry months. The abundant acacia tortillis trees are dropping their seed pods now, a favourite food for elephants generally but something Lima Lima simply cannot resist. Her days now are focused on finding where the baboons are located as they dislodge the pods which are simply delectable and irresistible for our orphan babies. The Keepers do their bit locating additional pods further afield for them too, arriving with tantalizing sack loads!

The dry season has gripped the Kibwezi Forest now and rain is not expected until late October. Thankfully with the springs and forest there remains plenty of food for the orphans and their wild friends, in fact the forest becomes a haven for all the wild animals within the ecosystem during the dry months. The abundant acacia tortillis trees are dropping their seed pods now, a favourite food for elephants generally but something Lima Lima simply cannot resist. Her days now are focused on finding where the baboons are located as they dislodge the pods which are simply delectable and irresistible for our orphan babies. The Keepers do their bit locating additional pods further afield for them too, arriving with tantalizing sack loads!

On a couple of occasions the orphans have walked a good distance into the Chyulu National Park which abuts the Kibwezi Forest. On the one day they met up with a herd of buffalo and browsed amidst the buffalo with the Keepers having to keep a safe distance. Another day they happened upon a sleeping buffalo herd which started both elephants and buffaloes so the Keepers were confronted with a downhill stampede of both! On the 7th of July a leopard roaring kept the orphans on their toes and awake most of the night with the Keepers coming out of their tent to further investigate as the roars were so loud it seemed like the leopard was in fact in the stockade compound. They discovered it was outside and more interested in the bushbuck that were at the Lucerne feeding spot. Thorough out this month our orphans have also come across wild elephant while out on their sometimes very long daily walks through the forest. The wild elephants are interested in the orphans and the orphans extremely interested in the wild herds too. Sometimes their encounters are with big bulls which catches Murera’s attention particularly, and sometimes female herds with little babies which of course Lima Lima, Quanza and Zongoloni cannot resist.

The Naughty boys are growing fast and sometimes their rambunctious behaviour requires the intervention of Murera and Sonje to keep them in check. Their energetic mud wallowing this month has seen terrapins and baby crocodiles fleeing for safety now that the waterholes are less and those that remain are not as deep. Sharing a mudbath with Jasiri, Ngasha, Ziwa and Faraja as a baby crocodile can be a fraught business so they abort and head for the reeds!

This month Balguda’s condition has deteriorated and all the orphans sensed this too taking extra care of him, concerned about his lack of strength and loss of condition. Of course his mini-mums in the form of Sonje and Murera seldom left his side. Angela made the difficult decision to return Balguda back to the Nairobi Nursery while he still remained with the strength to travel. At the Nairobi HQ, with all the blood diagnostic’s close at hand, ongoing treatment can be administered and his condition better monitored. The elephant moving truck headed to Umani Springs on the 17th ready for a dawn departure with their precious cargo Balguda early on the 18th. The Umani orphans seemed to understand what was happening to Balguda, with even Murera and Sonje calmer than anticipated. Balguda made the journey well, and slotted back into the Nursery routine as if he never left. He was immediately placed in his old stockade and warmly embraced by all his friends, big and little. Since being back his condition has improved with medication and supplements and we are hopeful we can overcome his problems which we feel sure is caused by parasites and it will not be too long before he can return once more to Umani Springs.

On the 29th of July our orphans came across a herd with a tiny wild born baby which enchanted Lima Lima and Zongoloni who between them were trying to spirit the baby away into their herd, but the wild mother and nannies were standing vigil and quick to sense their intentions and after a while were forced to intervene! The wild herds are taming down, although they are daunted still by the presence of the Keepers, but in time this will change as we have seen happen in Voi and Ithumba where the wild elephants are completely trusting of the Keepers.

July 2015 day to day

01 Jul

Balguda started to follow the babies who left to browse in the bushes immediately after getting their midday bottles. However he was under heavy protection from his adopted mothers Sonje and Murera. As soon as Balguda started to move away Sonje went on one side and Murera on the other, to put Balguda between them and so he would not to be disturbed by the rowdy babies. Quanza had the responsibility of leading the other orphans to the forest for more food and shade due to the hot weather. As they were moving to reach the shade, Ngasha and Zongoloni turned back to walk towards a natural waterhole to wallow for a second time, after finding the natural waterhole was dry. After they had finished they went for an enjoyable dust bath.

Balguda after his milk feed

Balguda & Ziwa escorted by Murera and Sonje

Orphans at the water hole second time

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