Keepers' Diaries, June 2015
Umani Springs Reintegration Unit
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.
01 June 2015
Sonje, with her baby boy Balguda beside her was getting cross with the babies who were walking slowly behind her and she was forced to stop and
wait for them. The naughty boys, Faraja and Ngasha, were very playful and taking time pushing each other, trying out their strength to see who was stronger than who and who would be the dominant bull. The keepers believe Jasiri will be the dominant bull very soon, not the naughty boys, Faraja and Ngasha.
After a long time the babies finally caught up to the impatient Sonje and all the orphans came to her flapping their ears and with a few trumpets here
and there and Murera trying to push them from behind to make them hurry up. When Zongoloni arrived she looked very itchy and not calm, so she spent a long time looking around to see if there was a rock or strong tree to help her scratch her itchy bottom. When she found a perfect tree she rubbed her back on the bark and enjoyed the feeling on her tough skin.
During the day, as the babies were relaxing after taking the midday bottles and the keepers were enjoying their lunch under the acacia tree, Murera and Sonje were seen by the keepers raising their trunks above their head into the air. Quanza and Lima lima did the same thing and as the keepers started wondering what the signal was for, a wild bull came out from the bushes towards the orphans. Lima lima made her way towards him but the big leaders, Sonje and Murera were afraid. Before the babies could walk closer, the bull heard the keepers shouting "Wazee, ndovu, ndovu" meaning, "guys wild elephant" and dashed off, disappearing into the bushes.
02 June 2015
The greedy Lima lima did not like to see her friends feeding happily and peacefully on the greener vegetation and as she watched the other elephants picking the soft greens she became quite jealous. Lima lima was the only not serious and feeling lazy as the others were all busy and not paying her any attention. She suddenly got very serious about filling her empty stomach as if she was worried that there might be none left for her if she waited and all the orphans came together joining their heads and feeding like one family. Balguda was then escorted around by Sonje to look for the acacia pods that were left behind by the fleeing baboons that were avoiding the keepers with their orphaned elephants.
After their milk bottles the babies went for a dust bath and it was like a song and dance as the babies happily enjoyed the loose soil. The air was full of dust and the orphans were making strange sounds from their trunks as some of them sneezed out the dust remaining in their noses. After the dust
bath the orphans undertook different activities. Jasiri turned naughty when he saw Ngasha rolling in some grass and jumped on his back trying to mount
him. Ngasha tried to get up and run to Quanza who was busy putting her trunk into Faraja's mouth to smell what Faraja could have fed on that was so
special to him.
03 June 2015
The lovely baby boy Balguda cannot walk very far from his adopted mother Murera and always stays close to Murera and Sonje to avoid the bully boys,
Ngasha and Faraja. These two naughty boys always try and bully him whenever they meet him in the forest without his two mothers. His friend and roommate Ziwa is also getting more social and now interacts with the keepers without fear. He is very friendly and will touch the keeper's dustcoat when he wants them to get up and play with him like Lima lima does with the keepers sometimes. Today, Lima lima saw Ziwa playing with her favourite keeper and
she became very jealous so she chased Ziwa away, leaving the keeper to play with the jealous, Lima lima.
When it was time for bottle-feeding the elephants were very far from the feeding point and Sonje, Murera and baby Balguda were high on the top of the
hills. When the keepers tried calling the babies Lima lima with her group of boys came running down but Murera and Sonje who normally walk slowly
remained on the hill. The keepers decided that the vehicle should bring the milk bottles to where Murera and Sonje were enjoying the browse. The small car then brought the bottles up to the peak of the Umani Hills where Murera, Sonje and Balguda were. When the bottles arrived for the babies, Zongoloni and Lima lima arrived first for their milk. Zongoloni grabbed her bottle on her own as she normally does, leaving Lima lima and the others to wait for their keepers as they don't know how to feed on their own like Zongoloni. Lima lima however, was very eager for her milk and she kicked her bottle over in her impatience.
04 June 2015
It has now been one year since the first relocation of Murera and Sonje to the new Umani Springs Stockades. Following this monumental move Murera and Sonje now have a family of ten elephants after eight other orphans also moved to Umani Springs. The babies are doing amazingly with plenty of fresh
water and vegetation available to them as well as all the new experiences to be had and places to explore. Wild elephants have been making numerous
visits to the stockade but remain very fearful. Whenever they realised the human families are with the babies they run away and disappear into the
bush. However things are slowly changing and today a very big wild bull elephant made a surprise visit to the orphans. Lima lima knew about the bull
before anybody else and when she got the smell of the wild elephant, she came back to keepers to signal them to be careful and shortly later the bull appeared and mixed with the orphans. The only one of our boy orphans that dared walk up to the big wild elephant was Jasiri, but Jasiri looked very tiny in size compared to the huge bull elephant. The keepers were very surprised to see a guest amongst the babies, but as they talked loudly so as not to surprise the bull, he left very quickly fearing the humans that walked with baby elephants.
05 June 2015
Balguda is a very calm baby boy and since he came from the nursery has not shown any bad behavior. When Balguda walked out from the stockades he was
immediately greeted by his adopted mothers, Sonje and Murera, who together walked to him to say jambo and find out if he was OK.
Quanza left the stockade looking for somewhere to scratch but decided to use her trunk below her chest after failing to find a good scratching rock or tree around her. The playful babies then went to the tall greener grasslands to play and browse. Some were rolling on the grass, but the naughty boys, led by Jasiri and Ngasha, began pushing games to show how strong they were. As they were pushing, Faraja saw his friend Ngasha being pushed so hard that Jasiri over powered him. Faraja ran to help his roommate and friend from Jasiri who was getting very rough with Ngasha and together they defeated Jasiri.
06 June 2015
It was very cold in the morning when the babies were let out from their stockades to go and browse. The orphans' did not go the usual way but instead went to a new side of the hillside; towards the very beautiful place we call the sundowner. Murera and Sonje were walking slowly behind, with their lovely baby boy Balguda happily walking in between the two mothers. Despite the rough road, that we thought Murera would struggle with, Murera managed the new route perfectly with Balguda next to her, on a different path from the other babies. A female waterbuck crossed over the road, causing tensions' among the elephants and their keepers, because of the thick bushy forest. Only one keeper saw the waterbuck after the babies had already ran away in fear. Lima lima and Ngasha were especially afraid and continued to hold the keepers legs very tight thinking that the strange thing might come back again for them.
The babies were calmed by their keepers then settled well, looking happy again and walking to the grassland area that was very wide open where they could see further, should anything come towards them. Murera stretched her long trunk, trying to bring down a strong branch of a tree that she wanted to browse on together with Sonje. It was a very strong branch but Murera decided that the branch must come down and so she did it. The same female waterbuck came walking towards the orphans again and Quanza with Zongoloni stopped what they were doing to watch her. When the waterbuck ran in between them, the orphans panicked for the second time and their day ended with restlessness' in the forest and loud trumpeting in the bushes.
07 June 2015
The orphans had a playful night as the two naughty boys, Ngasha and his friend pushed each other the whole night, and again in the early morning. Faraja continued to try and play with Ngasha but Ngasha was trying to avoid him. Things changed when Ngasha felt his tail being grabbed from behind and
when he turned round the fight began but this time it was more serious. When Faraja held Ngasha's tail he stood very firm and started to push Ngasha, but
when Ngasha faced him he was less sure of himself.
Murera and Sonje were not bothered by the two fighting boys as they pushed their lovely boy Balguda in front of them. They crossed over the road to the other side of the forest, leading the orphans to an area with more fresh greens. After a successful browse, Zongoloni and Quanza took over leading the little group of elephants to the bottle feeding ground, where their milk bottles were waiting for them.
When they finished feeding on the bottles, they all felt very hot and the orphans went to the waterhole and spent a long time wallowing with lots of funny wallowing styles. Sonje enjoyed sitting in the water hole to wallow and Ngasha quickly copied Sonje's unique wallowing style.
08 June 2015
Balguda was very active today and keen to show how strong he is. In the forests, early in the morning Balguda realised there were wild elephants close by so in front of Sonje, he signaled to alert the others and the keepers to their presence. He raised his trunk high above his head trying to smell how far away the wild friends were. Sonje rumbled something as a sign of communication to the wild elephants and they responded quickly so the
babies knew which direction they were in. The wild families made their way towards the orphans and Jasiri, Quanza and Lima lima tried to join them but
were still fearful. Lima lima made her way back to the human families quickly followed by the others and the wild elephants moved on.
Faraja and his friend Ngasha continued their pushing game through the day, both feeling very strong and energetic. The game continued for a long time until the other orphans began thinking that it was now a fight rather than play. Quanza went to separating them to stop the fighting, but Murera was not bothered by the energetic boys who like to play rough. Instead, Murera looked around and found some soft dry palms and went down to sleep. As she
was having a rest the other orphans were engaging each other and walking around the forest.
09 June 2015
Sonje and Murera sometimes share the responsibility of taking care of the other orphans but usually rotate the duties and take shifts. Today Murera
was given the role of taking care of their lovely boy Balguda whilst leading the other babies to the browsing fields with Lima lima as her assistant.
Sonje had a large following behind her because most of the babies love her hospitality and she is friendly to all; not a bully like the young mini
matriarch Lima lima can be.
Murera almost lost the other orphans as they continued to walk into the forest. When Murera trumpeted and rumbled to call Sonje to her side, Sonje responded in style with big rumbles followed by loud trumpeting from the bushes. Within no time, all the orphans were running to collect Murera and
Balguda, but as they were running in the forests, the keepers could not tell if it was their orphans or wild elephants as there was so much movement.
At the waterhole, it was a very joyous time as the orphans came together very willing to go for a wallow as it was so hot. They made lots of funny
wallowing styles and the muddy mudbath changed their body colour to dark elephants instead of the normal grey colour. The changing of colour did not
stop there as after wallowing Zongoloni, Quanza and Limalima took the babies to the dust bath and the brown soil quickly changed the body colour to
brown. The orphans loved the dust bath and the feeling of the warm soil on their backs.
10 June 2015
The orphans began their day heading out to browse in the forest, but when Quanza got the chance she changed the direction and took them to the Umani
watersprings. When the babies reached the water springs point, the crocodiles jumped back into the water abandoning their bathing session in the warm morning sunshine. When Lima lima reached the water point she stopped to drink some clean, fresh water and whispered to Ngasha to join her, but Ngasha was not thirsty. Instead, Ngasha and Jasiri continued
following the trails of the wild elephants that had walked to the water springs during the night but the scent was old and they soon gave up. Murera found some sweet greens as she was walking after the others and then she picked some beautiful flowers. The little orphan herd continued towards
the bottle feeding ground where Lima lima greedily finished her milk bottles quickly whilst Quanza was still being fed by the keeper. Once they had all
finished their bottles all the babies enjoyed a wallow. All except Balguda who decided it was not the right time to go and wallow with the rest. Sonje waited for him in at the waterhole but Balguda could not be encouraged so Sonje exited the water hole and took him to the dusting point.
11 June 2015
Ngasha looked very thirsty this morning when he left the stockade with his friend, Faraja. He went straight to the waterhole to see if there was clean
water to drink, before he joined the other orphans. Murera was waiting for her friend Balguda as Lima lima and Quanza crossed to the water springs water point to drink the clean water that was flowing directly from the pipelines.
The monkeys were jumping in the trees and making a lot of noise and soon the baboons also joined in. Zongoloni and the other babies were not comfortable
with the noisy environment, and their human families were disturbed as they feared that it could be wildcats the monkeys and baboons were seeing and alarming against.
Sonje and Murera began rumbling and making loud trumpet warnings so the babies collected themselves together and assembled near their keepers. The
keepers then called them and led them away from the noisy area of the springs. Lima lima and Quanza, who had already started drinking water at the
water springs, left hurriedly scared that there might be other animals in the area. The orphans sped off with their keepers for safety up to the
wallowing point and as they ran past the crocodiles enjoying the sunshine the crocodiles jumped into the water to avoid the heavily moving elephants.
12 June 2015
Lima lima led the orphans this morning, again heading towards the water springs area for the second day in a row after realizing that the place was full of sweet and soft greens, with a different variety of vegetation to feed on and also much closer to the clean water point flowing down the pipelines. On arrival at the springs Lima lima found a big branch that she admired as it looked very soft and started to pull it down. Murera was walking slowly in front of her, trying to lead, but was overtaken by Quanza, Ngasha and Zongoloni who feared Murera might push them using her long sharp tusks.
Balguda and Ziwa were left behind and couldn't find the way the other orphans had used. Balguda was left wondering where his adopted mothers, Sonje or Murera, and rumbled for help. Sonje hear the tone and knew he Balguda was rumbling for help so she ran towards him quickly to show him the way. It was also time for the mudbath and everybody should be heading in that direction so Sonje put him in front of her, making sure he did not get confused again about the way to the waterhole.
13 June 2015
Greedy girl Lima lima was in a speedy browsing mode today and walked in all directions to make sure she was the first to get the sweetest browse before anyone else. She kept pushing greens into her mouth even when her mouth was full. Ziwa changed positions to get closer to Lima lima who knew how to push down branches quickly before the others could. Ziwa found himself the best positions as he could take his time browsing as a lone ranger and avoid the pushing boys who often disturb him when he forages with Balguda.
Lima lima again took on the role of leader and escorted Quanza and the others to the water springs again which still had lots of plentiful
vegetation. Sonje and Murera took their baby boy Balguda immediately after they finished their milk bottle. Sonje was trying to comfort Balguda who was pushed by Zongoloni, because of some much loved acacia pods that were near him. She brought Balguda to her chest and patted him with her trunk like a very young baby with his mother.
14 June 2015
Ziwa was not very happy when Balguda, his roommate, choose not to browse with him. Ziwa expected his friend to stay close to him so they could help one another push down the strong branches and very strong grass. However, Sonje also wanted Balguda by her side and would even try to shield Balguda, using her trunk to block him from moving away from her. Ziwa went lookingfor his friend and turned back, eventually finding Balguda with Sonje . Quanza came in the middle of the other babies including Jasiri and Sonje who were feeding on the greener soft grass. Murera was following the babies who felt the hot weather and had gone down to the waterhole. Sonje was very happy with the swimming pool and she got excited rubbing her bottom on the waterhole.
As the orphans were very busy wallowing and having fun, the wild families were waiting for their turn in the waterhole. They waited for a long time and became impatient as the babies were not showing any signs of wanting to leave the waterhole. Eventually the wild families began trumpeting and screaming loudly in the near bushes and Lima lima went running to the keepers in fear. Murera and Sonje were close behind with the older babies following as none of them were brave enough to face the wild elephants just yet.
15 June 2015
Due to the dry cold weather we are now experiencing at Umani springs, the vegetation is drying up quickly. Ngasha went to forests looking for fresh greens, but only found a little to feed on. As he was struggling to find nice greens to fill his empty stomach, Quanza with Murera were breaking down dry branches so they could peel off the bark that they like.
When it was time for milk the elephants went running for their bottles then, Lima lima ran to the waterhole with Jasiri to see if the water was warm or cold. After realising that it was too cold, all of the babies opted out of wallowing and chose to go dust bathing instead which is a much warmer activity. They had such a fun time rolling and having a dust bath and Balguda found some very good positions to roll in with Murera taking care that no one should scare, push or disturb his fun.
16 June 2015
Today turned out to be a very warm day when the babies left their night stockades. They looked very jovial and happy, and the forever pushing boys, Ngasha and Faraja continued their games all the way into the forests. Murera and the other babies kept on changing positions from one big tree to the next looking for the best shade. Murera with Sonje kept Balguda close to them in the shade whilst Lima lima and the others flapped their big ears to cool down their body temperatures.
Murera then found a fallen tree that helped her scratch her itchy head as some of the babies were heading to the dusting soil and others swimming at the waterhole.
17 June 2015
The mini matriarch Lima lima led the orphans to the feeding points in the forest very early in the morning, before Sonje and Murera could take over leadership. Murera came over to her with a big branch in her mouth trying to crush it, but it was very strong and even her teeth could not peel off its bark. She gave up with it and then dropped it down for anyone else to try and break it. When Sonje passed near the branch she picked it up and started crushing it. She managed to chew and swallow the whole branch that Murera could not even peel the bark from. Jasiri copied what Sonje and Murera were doing and found his own branch to break and play with. The tiny Balguda also copied Jasiri and found one of the soft branches to break off and then started to crush it like he saw Jasiri doing.
Quanza, Zongoloni, and Lima lima took the babies for a mudbath when the weather became very hot and they needed to wallow and cool down. All the
orphans had such fun in the waterhole, more like hippos or crocodiles than elephants and they did not even want to come out for the dusting powder. Murera finally emerged from the waterhole and forced the babies to come with her into the forests to look for more greens and fill up their stomachs before the day ended. When the orphans went home everybody was looking so tired and immediately after finishing their bottles some of the tired babies, lay down to sleep. Balguda was the first one to go to sleep with Ziwa keeping an eye on him and guarding him whilst he slept. In the other stockade, Zongoloni was snoring as Jasiri was keeping an eye on her. During the night they would change shifts so Zongoloni would watch as Jasiri slept, but Jasiri ate all of the leftover food so there was none left for Zongoloni's watch.
18 June 2015
When the orphans came out for the midday bottle feeding time, they found bottles in a straight line waiting for them. Zongoloni with her unique style of picking up the bottles came straight to her normal corner and picked up the bottle quickly. When Jasiri came running he was very lazy in copying Zongoloni and one of his front legs kicked the second bottle down.
After bottle feeding Zongoloni pushed Faraja who was standing in front of her to lead because she did not want to be in front. She continued to push Faraja to keep going and going, but Faraja did not want to lead because Lima lima was standing in front of him. No one knew why, Lima lima was standing in the way and not leading, but she looked very tired and sleepy. Her eyes were dozing, as if she did not get enough sleep in the night because of her greediness. Instead of sleeping, Lima lima spent all night eating the leftover food to try and finish it all before her roommate woke up. When Quanza woke up in the night she found all the food was finished by Lima lima.
19 June 2015
Zongoloni led the babies out to the forest this morning. Time passed quietly and soon it was already time to walk back for a milk bottle and to the waterhole to try and wallow if the water was warm enough for them. The orphan herd took shelter from the hot weather in the shade of some big
trees. The keepers were resting a short distance away under another tree. Lima lima was very attentive and kept watching the keepers from a distance and then decided to walk much closer to see or hear what they were chatting about. Jasiri accompanied her and they both trying to listen to the discussion, but could not know what the keepers were laughing about. One of their favourite keeper' got up and only then did Lima lima and Jasiri begin walking to the bottle feeding ground. After milk feeding the orphans headed to the waterhole with plans to wallow and have fun. However, on reaching the waterhole the babies stopped fearing the cold water. Quanza tested the water and found that it was far too cold to wallow today. Quanza communicated the information so fast that no one else dared to test the water and they turned instead to the dusting soil, throwing dust on their bodies to keep away some of the disturbing flies.
20 June 2015
Balguda in the morning separated himself from his adoptive mothers, Sonje and Murera to see if the pushing boys would disturb him if he was alone. Ngasha moved closer to Balguda after seeing he was on his own without his defending mothers but did not dare push him as Sonje and Murera would be quick to come and protect Balguda.
The group of orphans spent a busy afternoon lifting up their trunks trying to reach for the acacia pods that are beginning to sprout. Murera and Sonje put their baby boy, Balguda, in between them for tight protection from the pushing boys, Faraja and Ngasha. Jasiri saw Lima lima browsing in the thick bushes and decided to walk to Lima lima and share a word with her. When Jasiri reached there, he put his trunk in the mouth of Lima lima to communicate with her and to find out what she might have been feeding on that might be more special than what Jasiri had found.
Murera decided to move the other babies to a different location for more new and soft branches, but Lima lima split the group into two major groups. Murera and Sonje were left on their own with their baby boy and Lima lima led the rest after her favourite keeper who had just got back from a few days off.
21 June 2015
Quanza searched the forest this morning in an attempt to find some soft greens to satisfy her appetite, before the long days walk. Quanza was very traumatised after witnessing her mother's and her sister's brutal death, but she is very forgiving and has begun to forgive humans for killing her family. Since coming to Umani from the Nursery, she is well behaved and has started to interact with THE keepers and even a few visitors. She doesn't trust everybody that comes close to her and is very selective but is slowly learning that not all people mean her harm. As Quanza continued walking into the forests, filling her stomach, Balguda and Sonje followed Quanza to see if they would find something new to appreciate.
The orphans have to enjoy their milk before walking to the waterhole for wallowing. Zongoloni and Ngasha finished up their shares quickly and ran
straight to the waterhole to wallow and then continued their fun in the dusting soil before joining in the others browsing for the remaining part of the day.
22 June 2015
Sonje took over leadership this morning, leading Murera, the other orphans and their keepers over to the water springs, water points and the area with lots of rocks and sharp stones. Murera did not mind the difficulty of walking on the sharp stones and Lima lima crossed over quickly with the orphans in tow to find a new place with lots of greens. The places with greens are very far compared to their usual browsing areas that had dried up following the dry weather we are experiencing.
The orphans found it necessary to move and look for more food in a new area that they had never been to. Lima lima and Quanza teaming up with Zongoloni and decided to explore this place after seeing some of the wild elephants heading in that direction. They met up with some wild friends who were browsing on the hills after leaving the Chyulu Hills National Park. Murera and Sonje could not keep up with their walking pace because Lima lima and her group were so fast and raced ahead.
When the babies began to feel thirsty for their milk bottles they turned back and Lima lima stayed close to the keepers to remind them it was time for bottle feeding, worried they might forget. After they finished their bottles, all the babies lined up flapping their big ears or running to swim and cool their rising body temperatures followed with a dusting at the dust bath point.
23 June 2015
Zongoloni kept following Sonje thinking that Sonje would give her some attention like she did before Balguda came from the Nursery. However, since Balguda came down to Kibwezi forests, Sonje and Murera agreed in one voice and adopted Balguda as their baby boy after seeing other naughty boys like Ngasha and Faraja pushing him. They took it upon themselves to protect Balguda from the pushing boys and any naughty behaviour.
Balguda stayed close to Murera but after not getting all the attention he wanted he went to Sonje for comfort. Sonje put her trunk on his head and asked him how he was doing in low rumbles. Balguda responded with loud rumbles that made Murera run to them to find out why Balguda was rumbling so loudly.
Ngasha took his friends to the waterhole and began testing to see if the water was cold or good for wallowing. Ngasha is always the lazy boy and
does not like wallowing during cold weather, after kicking water, he gave the other babies a little room to enter and wallow. Ziwa, Quanza and Jasiri are the good babies who liked wallowing and when they got close to the waterhole, they pushed the lazy wallowing boy out to give them room instead of taking time deciding over whether to get into the waterhole or not. The Keepers sometimes use their shovels to splash the lazy ones as the mud protects their skin from the hot sun.
24 June 2015
After the babies drunk and finished their bottles, Ngasha led the orphans out to the greener grasslands near the feeding area. The place was lovely with lots of greens and very soft grass to feed on and even Balguda loved it there. Ngasha had two ideas in his mind and he was undecided whether he wanted to eat or wallow. Before the others could reach the grasslands area, he took them to the wallowing waterhole after as the day grew hotter, obviously helping him make up his mind.
Balguda was also very interested in todays activities and decided to join the other babies in the waterhole. He rolled and rolled several times making sure that his whole body was covered with mud. He continued in the mud until Sonje began wondering where Balguda was and found him in the waterhole. Sonje supported Balguda as he scrambled out of the mudhole with Lima lima giving a helpful push from behind as the water's edge was very slippery.
25 June 2015
Zongoloni took off striding out into the forest. When she reached the path used by the wild elephant's she started to play with dust, throwing dust on her head and trying to keep away the tsetse flies that were stinging her body. Behind Zongoloni, Ngasha was the chief commander of the group, putting the orphans in a straight line, marching like the solders on a military pass
out parade, Zongoloni then took the lead because Lima lima didn't feel like it today and was staying behind every one, including Murera and Sonje who normally stay at the back when they walk. Lima lima usually leads the babies to bottle feeding time as she is the greediest, but today Lima lima changed her programme and left it to Zongoloni to lead.
The weather turned very hot and the orphans were forced to go straight to the wallowing waterhole and cool down their bodies. In the evening, on the way home, Jasiri and his friend Faraja with Quanza felt it might be a good time to go swimming but when they reached the water they only had a drink, changing their minds. The keepers celebrated the first anniversary since the Umani facility opened with five baby elephants, but the orphans did not know about the celebrations and continued with their normal activities, filling their stomachs as they normally do.
26 June 2015
The orphans went into the forest struggling to find enough food to fill their tummies in the early morning When walking to the bottle feeding ground for milk feeding at midday, Zongoloni found some soft acacia leaves and she tried to pick them without hurting her trunk as the tree had big thorns. Balguda waited by her side waiting to pick any that she might drop on the ground. Sonje then came to collect Balguda and when she found Balguda busy picking acacia pods, she patiently waited for him to finish before pushing him to walk in front of her to where Murera was waiting.
Some antelopes crossed over the bottle feeding ground and when they saw the keepers they started jumping very high. The babies were on the other side of the waterhole trying to look for some mud to smear on their dry bodies and to keep the body cool all day.
27 June 2015
The orphans began their day in the early morning by following the trails of the wild elephants that have visited more frequently since the dry season started, because of the plentiful food and clean water. The wild elephants must be wondering why the orphans stay in the stockades overnight whenever they come for them as friends of the wild.
When they came out from their stockades, Lima lima and Quanza, with the help of Ngasha, began following their smell and decided to follow their trails, but were unable to find any wild elephants. Eventually Ngasha surrendered and turned to look for the keepers to take them for milk feeding. The keepers followed the orphans to the feeding point thinking that after bottle feeding, the orphans would go to the waterhole and wallow but it did not happen. When Murera and Sonje told them something by big rumbling, the babies went away to the browsing field to shelter from the hot sun, under the big trees in the forests.
28 June 2015
Lima lima led the way into the forest and continued ahead of the elephants until she found a place with some soft food. She made it mandatory that they must stay and feed on the soft nicer greens, until it was time for the
Ngasha was looking around to see if he could lead the orphans and when he saw the matriarchs were not around and the big group of orphans was near him, he proudly began walking the babies to the waterhole. Balguda, Murera and Sonje were coming behind, walking slowly, when the babies arrived with Ngasha leading, he continued leading them to the waterhole, joining Lima lima who was already wallowing, flapping her ears.
As the orphans walked back to the forest, the keepers came across a crack in the lavarocks and stopped to see what was inside. Lima lima joined the keepers but when a hyrax with a baby came out looking for sunshine, Lima lima ran away from the little hyrax crawling towards its mother.
29 June 2015
Today Sonje gave Murera the responsibility of taking care of Balguda and Sonje stayed with Ziwa, knowing that Murera would not be as happy with Ziwa as she was with Balguda. Ziwa also knows that Murera can sometimes be a bully, compared to Sonje who is always a loving caring mother. Balguda is very comfortable with either Sonje or Murera, and Balguda also understood the reasons why Sonje was walking away from him and spending time with Ziwa and that Murera would never push him like she sometimes does the others.
30 June 2015
In the early morning Sonje had a plan to go to a new area where there are plants with tubers on their roots. As Sonje was searching through the bushes she found a fallen tree that was pushed down by wild elephants and finished almost a whole branch. The bent tree was producing some nice smells and Sonje went for its roots enjoying the tubers.
Ziwa continued to be near Sonje trying to know about the tubers that Sonje was enjoying so much, even bending down his knees to reach the tubers with sweet waters coming from it. When Sonje laid down playing, Ziwa stayed next to her.
Lima lima was in a rush to get to the waterhole immediately after finishing up her shares of milk. She was excited about goingn swimming, but the others babies like Murera and Sonje were still behind with Balguda. Murera and Sonje saw Quanza heading for Balguda throwing her trunk around in warning but before Quanza could even try to push Balguda, Sonje had already jumped in between to defend their baby boy.