Keepers' Diaries, July 2019

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

We noticed this month how the call to the wild has begun to take hold for certain orphans like Ziwa and Ngasha, and to a certain extent Jasiri and Faraja too. We can’t believe these bulls are now seven years old, and as we have witnessed with many of our orphans, this is the age when the call of the wild becomes stronger and they start to experiment with 'night outs', staying out of the stockades for a night or two.

Ziwa is the ring leader with regards to this new found independence, and has started leading his best friend Ngasha with him to spend nights out in the forest. They often spend at least two nights out at a time, but often return for their milk feeds, before wandering off again. Faraja and Jasiri are still very close and don’t often like to be separated as they keep an eye out for one another. Faraja is still slightly wary of spending the night out, after he spent two nights out in a row on his own and he got very scared, so he tends to stick with the other orphans at night still. 

Lima Lima who is always so vigilant about the Keepers and their safety, has been acting quite strangely in that she has been leading huge herds of wild elephants into the fold of the other orphans and the Keepers too. The Keepers had been quite apprehensive when she first did this, but soon realises they have no need to be, as Lima Lima very evidently rumbles and communicates to the wild elephants that the Keepers are her family and are to be trusted, and the wild elephants always keep their distance. This communication goes both ways; the wild elephants with their teachings for the orphans, and evidently with the orphans communicating to them that the Keepers are to be trusted; it is one of the marvelous things to behold with our hand-raised charges and their transition back to the wild. The fact that our Keepers can stand amidst wild elephants as they interact with our orphans is testament to the fact they must be communicating and ensuring the safety of their human family. Lima Lima has always been one particular elephant who takes the safety of her Keepers very seriously, be it from wild elephant friends or other species. One day she trumpeted and charged at a herd of buffalos, chasing them away until they had fully disappeared, which the Keepers very much appreciated, but they also found Lima Lima’s method quite funny as well. 

The matriarchs Murera and Sonje are quite happy to relinquish the title of ‘leader’ to Lima Lima as they are slower, due to their bad limbs, and Lima Lima is always very good at leading the herd safely from place to place. One thing our Umani orphans do not have to worry about, even during this dry season, is food, and because Lima Lima is such a greedy baby, she can always be relied on to lead the orphans towards food. One day she led the orphans to a place with lots of acacia trees, and she and Zongoloni pushed on the trees to dislodge all the little green acacia pods that had not yet dropped to the ground, so they could all pick them up to enjoy their favourite treat. 

On another day the Keepers and orphans came across many fallen trees that had been pushed down by wild elephants in the night. Whereas sweet Alamaya was trying to help the Keepers clear the path by picking up branches and moving them, Lima Lima was not helping anyone, and merely helping herself to the tasty branches she now found lying on the ground.

As the older boys Jasiri, Faraja, Ngasha and especially Ziwa are seeking their independence, the matriarchs Murera and Sonje, very much the oldest in the herd, are sticking closer to home, because of the babies Mwashoti and Alamaya who they still care for, and also because they are still impacted by their slightly compromised back legs. The wild bulls in the forest are particularly interested in Sonje, but this interest was not returned this month and Sonje pulled the muscle in her leg a couple of times running away from the wild bulls. Just a quick spray from the muscle relaxer was all that was required to help Sonje when that happened, and she was able to walk okay for the rest of the day. Murera and Sonje still provide protection to Mwashoti and Alamaya whenever Ziwa looks like he might be in the mood to push them around. They are still very much the leaders, and the older boys will listen to them in order to avoid being disciplined, but they just might not follow them where they decide to browse during the day. Sometimes Murera and Sonje keep Mwashoti sandwiched between them in order to provide him the necessary protection from the boisterous bulls. Despite being seven years old as well, Quanza is still happy to stick close to home with the matriarch females and have her milk bottles, alongside her friends Zongoloni and Lima Lima too. 

July 2019 day to day

01 Jul

All the orphans gathered together to decide how they would spend the day today. The meeting was under Sonje and Murera’s leadership but after a short while Faraja, Ngasha and Ziwa walked out of the meeting to go out to the forest after hearing some wild elephants trumpeting. Ziwa kept going with Ngasha, but Faraja was concerned about where Jasiri was and turned to go back to find him, but he couldn’t find his way back so he had no choice but to continue going with Ziwa, who was leading the cheeky boys. 

The boys spent the whole day out in the forest as their own group, and Faraja later returned but by evening Ziwa and Ngasha still had not shown up. Instead they decided to spend half the night out, only returning to the compound around midnight where they found the Keepers had locked the gate, which they found very disappointing. Clever Ngasha stretched his trunk through the gate and pushed on it so the Keepers would hear someone shaking the gate and come to let them in, which they promptly did. When they arrived at their stockades they found Jasiri had stolen their branches so they had to wait for their morning bottles before they got any food. 

Orphans cooling themselves

Sonje

Ngasha going his own way

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