It has been a year since the Umani Springs Rehabilitation Unit was opened with the first elephants Murera and Sonje followed by the others, Lima Lima, Quanza and Zongoloni. Together these five elephants christened this our third relocation unit, and the Keepers learnt the ropes and settled into a completely new environment. It has become a favourite for elephants and Keepers alike. This year the next group arrived, our albino boys Jasiri, Faraja and Ngasha and then more recently little Balguda and Ziwa joined the fold. It is wonderful to see the success of this place exceed our wildest expectations.
The interaction with the wild elephant herds has been interesting too, as with time the interactions have switched from just night time to some significant day time encounters as the wild elephants get use to the humans that accompany the orphans everywhere. On the 1st of June the orphans held their trunks in the air catching a significant scent on the wind, and just as the Keepers were wondering what it was that had attracted their attention a handsome wild bull came out from the forest into the glade. First to head towards him was Lima Lima of course, but big girls Sonje and Murera were much more reticent. It was not long before he became aware of the Keepers presence and turned away slipping back into the thick undergrowth. On the 4th another huge bull joined the babies, with Lima Lima quick to alert the Keepers of his presence to ensure their safety. This time Jasiri went up to him, and the size difference was remarkable. He didn’t remain long because of his fear of the humans with the orphans, but there is no doubt the Umani wild elephants are becoming bolder by the day. On the 8th they had a wild encounter with a wild herd in the forest and on another day the wild herd patiently waited for the orphans to finish their midday mudbath before moving in for a mudbath of their own.
Quanza is changing and growing more trusting of humans. Having witnessed her family brutally killed by poachers it has been a very long time for her to really enjoy human company, but she has changed recently and seems to be genuinely interested in seeking out the Keepers to close contact, and visitors too. Zongoloni has been somewhat displaced by Balguda who remains pampered by Murera and Sonje. They protect him from the rambunctious boys Faraja and Ngasha. Ziwa his room mate is thriving at Umani, growing stronger by the day and genuinely happy with his new home. Faraja and Jasiri with Ngasha are thriving and have to be watched carefully because their physical antics can be overbearing at times. Lima Lima is the most human of them all, a busy body, always spearheading everything and anything, and very protective of the Keepers communicating to them at all times the presence of elephants, buffalos, everything for that matter.