July was a hot and dry month in the Kibwezi Forest so there has been a lot of mudbath wallowing, especially for orphan Faraja and his albino friend Jasiri who feel the heat more than most. The Forest’s butterflies have been increasing in number despite the dry conditions and have provided much fun and games for the babies who love chasing them around the stockade compound and on the paths during their daily sojourns.
During the month the Keepers were surprised when Alamaya began picking up and holding his milk bottle with his trunk independent of anyone, just like how Zongoloni and Jasiri do during their milk feeding times. The first time they saw him do this was at the beginning of the month, and it has amazed them all given Alamaya’s young age. He continued to practice his new skill over the following weeks and is now quite an expert, and extremely proud of himself.
Wild bull elephants continue to visit the stockades, wandering around the forest and the orphans browsing grounds curious of the orphans and especially Murera and the females. Murera is frightened of the big wild bulls and always runs away whenever one comes too close, while Ziwa and Zongoloni have been much more friendly and try to make new wild friends. There is one very big bull who is new in the forest, and early in the month he charged at the tractor and trailer that collects the orphans’ greens, connecting with the trailer which was daunting indeed for all concerned. He commands great respect, and everyone has kept their distance ever since, but he seems to have calmed down as well, more familiar with the forest routines.
With all the mud wallowing taking place the Keepers were very happy to see Mwashoti playing in the mud with such abandon that it was as if he had never had a bad leg. They have enjoyed watching him busily mixing wet mud with his feet and splashing water onto his belly and generally having a great time. Although Mwashoti is overcoming his disability he still does struggle when the orphans take a browsing route through the forest to the Chyulu Hills where there is a thick lava flow to walk over, but Murera or Sonje are always at hand to guide him along an easier path.
On one day the orphans and their Keepers embarked on a very long trek to Kenze, a journey that makes the young babies like Alamaya and Mwashoti very tired. Sonje and Murera stayed close to the two babies letting them have rests along the way to make sure they didn’t get too exhausted. Despite it being a long safari for everyone, the orphans relished the new environment, and rich abundant vegetation.
The number of wild bushbucks and wildlife in general has increased incredibly over the years thanks to the work of the DSWT in providing the management and protection of this area. The wild bushbucks have become increasingly tame and are often found mingling with the orphans at the Umani water springs without fearing the keepers. There have also been a number of other wild animals like buffaloes, wild elephants and even a giraffe which appeared near to where the orphans were browsing one day. The wild elephants along with the buffalo and bushbuck have also been enjoying the area where the keepers put lucerne in the forest for the orphans, to help in these dry conditions.
The keepers were happy to see Quanza being much more sociable with Murera and Sonje, which she doesn’t often do, as she tends to focus on Faraja and Ziwa most of all these days.