Keepers' Diaries, June 2016

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

This month at Umani it has been all about the arrival of the new babies and the shift in dynamic this has created amongst the group. Murera and Sonje abandoned little Ziwa in the excitement of receiving two new, much younger babies from the nursery at the end of last month. Ziwa is old enough however to fend for himself now and can even be seen joining in the pushing games with the bigger boys Faraja and Jasiri, which previously he would have shied away from. Murera and Sonje immediately took to the new youngsters, and after a few days started to concentrate their attention on Mwashoti mainly, recognising and understanding his slight impediment caused by the healed snare wound around his front left foot, and leaving Lima Lima to dote on the young Alamaya. They lead him around the best routes and ways of approaching more difficult obstacles like climbing up hills and inclines, and protect both the young boys from the boisterous antics of the older bulls in the group! Some of the orphans have shown curiosity in Alamaya’s missing tail, but where Jasiri the ‘tail puller’ has been trying to grab it, others like Quanza have just been touching the stump, trying to understand where it has gone – either way Alamaya usually does not like it! Quanza has actually been in quite a playful mood this month, although the others are always careful not to take the game too far, as Quanza does not stand for nonsense of any kind!

01 June 2016

Murera and Sonje had very busy schedule in the early morning, when, as soon as the gates were opened by the keepers, they took off rushing as if competing who among them could pick which baby, Alamaya or Mwashoti. Murera went directly to Mwashoti’s room and stood by the gate waiting to welcome him out. Sonje heard Alamaya complaining and rumbling and she went straight to see what was wrong with him. Sonje found nothing wrong, but she wanted to keep Alamaya for herself. Ziwa was waiting to see Sonje would come to say jambo to him but instead they met at the gate entrance as they were walking out. Ziwa felt quite jealous towards Alamaya and Mwashoti’s as they were following very closely to the matriarchs leaving no room for him to walk next to Sonje, his best mama. In the forest, Ziwa, Quanza and Lima Lima decided to walk away from the matriarchs who were very much concerned with the babies. When the time for mud bathing came, all the babies ran quickly to their bottles; even the new babies Mwashoti and Alamaya grabbed their bottles and Mwashoti even held his bottle on his own just like they saw Zongoloni and Jasiri were doing.

02 June 2016

The babies looked very happy for their morning patrols this morning. The first thing Lima Lima had in mind was to look for the young Alamaya. She went to Alamaya before he could meet the other orphans like Quanza, her roommate. She went to Alamaya’s gate and waited for him to come out as Mwashoti was already taken over by Sonje and Murera. Mwashoti’s has been adopted by the two matriarchs knowing in their mind that Mwashoti’s also has a problem with his leg problem, like them. It is very interesting to see they have taken this approach and seem to know he needs extra care during his first few months at Umani, leaving Alamaya to Lima Lima because they know he is also in good hands, and needs less help. Sonje also knows in her mind that Ziwa is no longer a young baby now and it is time for Mwashoti and Alamaya to be taken care of. Ziwa can join in the big boys pushing games now and be okay, which was not the case before. Mwashoti and Alamaya are still babies and can certainly be pushed around by the older boys. Zongoloni was not very friendly to Ziwa today and she pushed him away to leave her alone. Murera led some hearty patrols in the forest together with Sonje and their young Mwashoti, showing him the direction in which to walk and how to avoid the lava rocks which are very sharp and pointed and hurt some of the new babies at the stockades who come from the Nairobi Nursery. In the evening Mwashoti felt thirsty and wanted to get more drinking water. Murera led him all the way to the waterhole but Mwashoti had to drink his milk first before walking to the water trough.

03 June 2016

Alamaya got very jealous today when he saw Mwashoti touching Lima Lima and he went to push him away from his new adopted mother. Alamaya wanted to push Mwashoti down but found him standing very firm and hard to push. The Keepers jumped in quickly to help Mwashoti from the pushing baby Alamaya. Murera and Sonje joined the keepers to beef up the support as they were worried about Mwashoti’s bad leg. The Keepers shouted very loudly at Alamaya to stop the bad behaviour of trying to push Mwashoti, and he ran away when he saw the Keepers speaking very firmly and pointing their fingers at him. The long day continued with the babies looking very much encouraged by the soft branches they were finding in the bushes, walking in the hills where they can often find the nicest vegetation. The tail grabber Jasiri tried to grab Alamaya’s small stump-tail today. Alamaya was not happy with any one touching his tail. Lima Lima came in knowing very well that Jasiri, being a tail grabber, would cause more harm to Alamaya’s half tail (what remains of it after hyenas took off with most of it as well as his genitalia when he was a baby). After the bottle feeding Alamaya was feeling very hot so he walked to the waterhole to splash some cool water onto his body; the climate seems to be getting hotter and drier by the day. The new baby Alamaya and his friend Mwashoti seem to be the greediest babies now among the boys and Lima Lima; they have usurped the others as the greediest and the two have a lot of fun when feeding time comes.

04 June 2016

Lima Lima gave her Keepers trouble this morning as she wanted dairy cubes before leaving the compound, but the Keepers did not want to give it to them in the morning. Instead they put lucerne out but Lima Lima did not want lucerne; she stood demanding and waiting at the store door, trying to push to see if she could get the pellets. She wouldn’t leave because she could smell them inside. The Keepers began to lead the orphans out but Lima Lima was not happy at being forced out without the dairy cubes. She rumbled to Alamaya to follow behind her after she was denied the food she wanted, and when he came Lima Lima quickly used another path, avoiding the Keepers as she walked away with her friend Alamaya. They walked off to find the soft foliage available in the forests. The orphans went all the way to the Umani Hills, forcing Mwashoti with his bad leg to remain together with Murera who shares the same leg problems and also cannot climb the hills; they both remained on the slopes of the hills browsing peacefully. Although they cannot walk uphill like the others, Murera and Mwashoti can make their way slowly uphill by zig-zagging. Sonje later brought the orphans to the mudbath point to have their milk bottles. She continued with Quanza all the way to the waterhole for water, where they found two crocodiles basking in the sun. Mwashoti and Alamaya were quite nervous of the crocodiles as they had not seen them before. In the waterhole the babies only splashed a little water onto their bellies and left. One baby crocodile popped its head up in the water which by bad luck Lima Lima saw; she then jumped back into the water again to look for the crocodile which showed its head there.

05 June 2016

The babies came running out crazily today to begin their day. Their first stop was to check in the lucerne corner to see if there was any grass left there. Zongoloni began the day by blowing very loud trumpets in the air. Ngasha followed but his trumpets were not loud ones and were in a very low tone. When Zongoloni began trumpeting, all the babies followed her to charge out to the bushes, bashing them down; it was a hard morning for the trees! The big, wild bull elephant the Keepers have named Osama appeared from the forest to join the other orphans who were not charging in the trees. Murera and Sonje did not want him around and instead they pushed on to other areas to browse alone without the wild bulls. The Keepers called the others many times to try and stop them from charging and breaking more trees, and also not to get mixed up with Osama the wild bull elephant friend. As the babies were heading to Chyulu Hills, where the wild bull elephant also seemed to be heading, the bull later took his own direction. Walking to the Chyulu Hills was quite hard for Mwashoti and Alamaya because the lava rocks were quite sharp on their feet. Mwashoti was a little slower than Alamaya, but Murera took charge to push him slowly until they reached the Chyulu Hills to browse.

06 June 2016

The Keepers were very happy to find that Lima Lima has decided to take on Alamaya as her adopted baby, after seeing Murera and Sonje looking after Mwashoti so well. The Keepers saw Jasiri trying to grab Alamaya’s tail and felt so bad watching Jasiri touch the half-tail; he always misbehaves with his friends tails, except for Zongoloni; Zongoloni is a very tough lady and no one plays with her tail as she doesn’t entertain any nonsense! Sonje and Murera look after Mwashoti because they can recognise he has a bad leg as well, but leave Alamaya to others like Lima Lima believing that he might give them a hard time to control; he walks so fast like Lima Lima and is also very greedy just like Lima Lima! Lima Lima took some time relaxing under the bushes, watching how the other babies behaved with Alamaya. Quanza approached Alamaya and tried to touch his tail, but not grab it. Perhaps she was just feeling it and trying to understand why it was so short. Nevertheless Alamaya was not happy with his short tail being touched at all! The long walk continued with all the orphans very ready for the long walk as they browsed towards Kenze baseline. While on their way to the Kenze baseline some antelopes appeared from nowhere trying cross the path through the elephants. Some of the orphans didn’t see them and thought it was buffaloes which made them start running, followed closely by their Keepers! Mwashoti and Alamaya were the first babies to run and although they are the babies the Keepers are the most worried about, they appeared to be the fastest runners among the orphans at Umani!

07 June 2016

Alamaya saw some of the naughty boys heading towards him and he did not trust them. He began rumbling trying to signal Sonje to come for him very quickly instead of Murera who was further away. Sonje had some sticks in her mouth which she dropped as she rushed to see what was wrong. Mwashoti was hanging near Murera and when Lima Lima heard the rumbles she also went to see why Alamaya was complaining. Ziwa was on the other side and happy browsing on his own, happy also not to be caught up in the new pushing games! The big boys amidst the Umani orphans Jasiri, Faraja and Ngasha had time to test out their strength in their usual pushing games; Jasiri won the game by pushing the other two, Ngasha and Faraja down, forcing Quanza to actually come over and help the two boys. When the pushing game ended, Zongoloni tried to push them very far away so they would go and browse, instead of playing. Murera also decided to take action and when the boys saw Murera approaching they all ran away to avoid any bad repercussions! Ngasha and his friends knew Murera would hurt them pushing them with the big tusks she has.

08 June 2016

The matriarchs beefed up the security around the new, young boys by blocking the naughty boys from getting too close to them and disturbing them. Murera, Sonje and Lima Lima were very concerned about the young babies around the big boys and watched every step they made whilst browsing. Zongoloni and Faraja did not want to follow them but instead took their own direction which the wild elephants had previously used, and they smelt and tasted their dung to see what they had been eating recently. Later they moved towards the water springs to drink some clean water. Mwashoti got very scared when some crocodiles jumped back into the water from where they were sunning themselves. He shouted loud as the big splashes frightened him and Murera came running but found nothing. Mwashoti and his friend Alamaya are only new from the nursery and are not aware of all the sights and sounds in their new environment. After drinking their bottles at the midday feeding time, Alamaya showed the other babies what a good swimmer he was. He went straight to the waterhole and began to swim. Soon he was followed by Mwashoti who splashed around with his bottom and then he lay down in the water covering whole of his body with muddy water. Murera and Sonje then got ready to join their babies to swim because it was quite a hot day all of a sudden. Alamaya and his friend Mwashoti looked like the happiest babies we had ever had at Umani! After wallowing, Mwashoti took off with Zongoloni who escorted him outside the waterhole. However Sonje went over quickly to take her babies away from Zongoloni and they continued to follow her back into the forest.

09 June 2016

When the day started quite early in the morning for the babies, the old and the young were very happy to come out of their stockades. Faraja took the lead and showed every one where the wheelbarrow that was carrying lucerne was taken by the Keepers. He used his long trunk to sniff it out! They found some antelopes feeding on the lucerne from the previous day that had been left by the orphans. When they heard the elephants come charging and making a lot of noise and trumpeting they turned to run away! Alamaya and Mwashoti looked for them all over to make sure they had well and truly left the lucerne feeding corner. Lima Lima arrived looking for her baby then went looking for the antelopes as well, but found they had disappeared. The Keepers are very friendly to the antelopes and did not want them to leave but the orphans did not want them around their precious lucerne. Faraja and Ngasha then played with the Keepers, a hide and seek game; the two boys did not want to follow them to the forest, but later they followed them slowly all the way to where they were going for the rest of the day. Some hornbills were shouting from the tops of the trees, and then flew down to where Ziwa and Faraja were testing out their strength on each other. When the hornbills flew down right next to where they were pushing each other, Faraja turned and ran away not knowing what was flying just over his head.

10 June 2016

The big girls were demanding the dairy cubes to be given out this morning. The Keepers gave them their usual lucerne but nothing worked. Lima Lima went to wait at the pellet store and was even trying to push the door trying to smell them inside. Alamaya also joined her waiting by the door. We do not usually give them pellets in the morning as they get them when they come back from the bush in the evening; but today it was different as they all refused to leave until they were given them! Even young Mwashoti! Alamaya took off following Lima Lima wherever she went. After eating the dairy cubes Alamaya was thirsty and Lima Lima took him to drink some water from the springs. At the waterhole at mudbath time, the babies were surprised and happy to find Mama Daphne had come to see them. Murera and Sonje were escorted by Lima Lima to near the car that Mama Daphne was inside. Mama Daphne was surprised to see how tall and big Murera, Sonje and Lima Lima had grown in Umani. Her daughter Jill was also happy to see them as content and healthy big elephants, not like the vulnerable babies they were when they arrived at the nursery. Lima Lima went with her friend Alamaya to greet Mama Daphne and say Jambo to her. Lima Lima raised her trunk high up to the car window to smell and touch her. The orphans really enjoyed it when Mama gave them acacia pods from the car window and they did not want to leave her after that! But the Keepers convinced them back out to the forest to enjoy the rest of the day; they would met her again later that evening when they come back from the bush. Mwashoti made Mama very happy as she watched him swimming and kicking the water using his bad leg; no one could tell it was even the bad leg he was using!

11 June 2016

The baby baboons were jumping into the stockades when the orphans were walking out of them in the early morning today. Mwashoti and Alamaya ran around after the baboons trying to chase them away from their stockades. Alamaya went to his mama Lima Lima after chasing the baboons with little trumpets coming from his tiny trunk. Murera and Sonje rushed to their adopted boy Mwashoti, whilst the other babies had already begun walked out towards the Chyulu Hills for fresh browse. When they reached the water springs, they found some wild elephant dung dropped all over the spring area, indicating that there were wild elephants not far away. The young boys were feeding on the fresh dung, trying to learn which branches were better for them to eat out in the forest. At the time for bottle feeding (all the elephants know the timings) the orphans walked through the bushes towards the bottle feeding area and the mud bath. Lima Lima and Alamaya were leading the babies all the way to the mudbath; the young boys enjoyed the company of their new found loving mothers. At the time to return to the stockades, Murera was seen holding Mwashoti’s tail, gently walking along behind him after a long day out in the forest. When it came time for their evening bottles, Mwashoti grabbed his off the ground as he could not wait for the Keeper to assist him! They have already started copying this from how they see Zongoloni doing it in style, and Alamaya does it even better.

12 June 2016

Today, Zongoloni did her best trying to lead the orphans out to the browsing field. She saw Lima Lima was busy attending to Alamaya so she decided to take charge and lead on her own. When the rest of the group saw Zongoloni heading off in one direction, they all decided to follow her. Later Sonje and Quanza stepped out, leaving Zongoloni only leading Ngasha still. Ngasha found Ziwa waiting for Sonje but pushed Ziwa not to wait for Sonje because he was no longer a baby now. It was like a big marathon race at the bottle feeding time, the greedy babies Lima Lima, Mwashoti, Alamaya and Zongoloni were running very fast to reach their bottles, as fast as they could. Lima Lima was the number one of all the babies followed by Mwashoti and Alamaya. Zongoloni was watching how the young Alamaya and Mwashoti grabbed the bottles from the ground on own, like experts. Quanza was forgotten on the hill and when she realised that she was left alone on the hills browsing while the others had taken off to the bottle feeding area she screamed very loudly and the others responded at the waterhole, knowing that it was Quanza shouting. Quanza walked all the way to the waterhole on her own where found her friends wallowing and she joined them after having her share of milk too.

13 June 2016

The Chyulu Hills is getting drier now, as we begin the dry season, meaning wild elephants and other wildlife are increasingly browsing in the Umani Springs area. This is great exposure for our babies who get to enjoy their presence now, but Murera does not enjoy it as she does not want her babies to be taken away by any wild elephant herds! The springs remain one of the only permanent water sources now for many animals within the Chyulu area. In the Kibwezi Forest we can get still get plenty of various kinds of vegetation for the orphans and this means they do not have to walk as far as other wild elephants and animals. While browsing within the Chyulu Hills, Murera and Sonje made the decision to lead the babies to lower ground, to avoid the rush and running down the hills at bottle feeding time. Mwashoti wanted to be at the front, followed by Lima Lima, making sure her friend Alamaya was right by her side, safe from the other rowdy elephants. Mwashoti walked so fast and strong, and we could not believe our eyes seeing how he walked so well on his bad leg. As the day wore on it got very hot, making it hard for the babies to all eat out in the open, so they all decided to go under the shade in the forest. Later they went to the waterhole to wallow and cool down their bodies with mud. Alamaya and his friend Mwashoti were the swimming stars, and Faraja found a scratching rock which was good for him to scratch his itchy bottom. Later the orphans walked back to the stockades for their delicious milk bottles and dairy cubes, before going into their pens for the night.

14 June 2016

The orphans looked happy this morning and ready to begin their long day. Last night many wild elephants came all the way up to the orphans in their stockades, as if trying to understand about the babies in their night stockades. Sonje with the help of Lima Lima, Murera and Zongoloni were causing trouble trying to get out of their stockades, using all means possible to get out; they pulled on the polls and Lima Lima on the other side was jumping on the walls, trying to get to her friend Alamaya. They thought the wild elephants would make away with their young little friends, Mwashoti and Alamaya, and they were trying to protect them from the wild elephants. They kept banging on the gates until the Keepers came to stop them from doing that. In the morning when the orphans were going to the forest for the new day, some crane birds flew down near Zongoloni causing her to charge and bash around, knocking down trees and other plants in her way. Mwashoti raised up his tiny little trunk to smell the cranes. Murera took the babies to the waterhole to drink more water as the other orphans, Ngasha, Lima Lima, Ziwa and the other boys, headed back to the bush.

15 June 2016

A few of the wild elephants came in around the stockade area very early in the morning, to see their orphaned friends come out from their stockades. They had a tiny wild baby elephant with them, who was very curious when he saw the Keeper passing by close to him pushing the wheelbarrow with the lucerne. The little baby tried to charge at the Keeper, and the Keeper left the wheelbarrow as he backed away from the young baby. There was a bit of confusion among the babies and the Keepers about where to run in the mix up with the wild elephants, as the orphans were running to their keepers in the lucerne feeding corner, their wild friends were running away into the forest with lots of trumpeting. Alamaya looked around in the bushes to see if he could find that tiny baby friend, but he had gone. Lima Lima came and stopped him from following the wild friends into the forest, and instead took him to scratching rock where he took some time scratching his belly and short tail. Later, Quanza took some of the orphans off to the waterhole to wallow and drink clean water.

16 June 2016

Sonje took over to lead as Murera stayed back with Mwashoti so he would not to be pushed around by the rowdy pushing boys, who do not care about his bad leg and that he might be hurt. The orphans walked in the forest looking for vegetation and soft branches. They encountered some buffaloes and some klipspringers running on the rocks who were scared away by the Keepers talking behind the orphans. Lima Lima communicated to her Keepers that the buffaloes were around and they thanked her for being such a concerned baby. The orphans decided not to go into the water today. The time for feeding came and only Lima Lima seemed to remember that it was time for bottles! As the Keepers took them for their bottles, Alamaya and Mwashoti were leading all the big elephants all the way to the feeding area. When they reaching the feeding point Mwashoti and Alamaya grabbed their bottles from the ground, as they had observed Zongoloni and Jasiri doing so nicely. They decided only to dust themselves today.

17 June 2016

When Alamaya and Mwashoti came out of their pens in the morning, Alamaya was greeted by his friend Lima Lima and Mwashoti was greeted by the two matriarchs, Murera and Sonje. Mwashoti was complaining and rumbling loudly, which made some of the orphans come all the way back to see what he was complaining about. The Keepers were also surprised to hear the noise and went to Mwashoti to see what was wrong, in case some of the big boys had pushed him and knocked his bad leg. However when they got there they found that he was just happy to see Murera and Sonje! Ngasha and Zongoloni walked over to where Ziwa was on his own to give him some company. Quanza raised her big ears up in the air, signalling to the other babies to be aware and alert after she heard trees falling down, thinking that it might be buffaloes or wild elephants. However they didn’t see anything and they continued with their patrol through the forest. When the babies came for their bottles and to wallow in the waterhole, Alamaya went in the waterhole and rolled and rolled, turning onto his back to get muddy everywhere and feel cool for the rest of the day. Sonje went to him after he finished wallowing, to make sure none of the naughty boys followed him to push him around!

18 June 2016

The orphans walked to the Chyulu Hills today, and crossed paths with some wild elephants who were walking the other way towards the Umani Springs. Lima Lima took the lead of taking the others towards the Chyulu Hills. They were looking for more soft foliage for the new young babies who cannot quite crush the big branches like they do. Zongoloni, Ngasha and Ziwa are very good at walking long distance; they keep walking so fast it is hard for the babies to keep up with them, as well as Murera and Sonje; now these 4 walk together at the back. Lima Lima walks fast but when she thinks of the keepers and her baby Alamaya plus the milk bottles she stops and waits for them all to catch up. The weather has turned cold forcing all the orphans to avoid the mudbath or wallowing; instead they just dusted their heads with the loose soil. The younger ones, Alamaya and Mwashoti and Ziwa went for a little shower, but only splashed a little water onto their bodies and left quickly after that, after seeing the big orphans were leaving for the forest. Mwashoti came back to join Sonje however, who was lying on the ground waiting for some of the babies to come and play and jump on her back. Quanza was being very playful today, trying to play around with Ngasha; but Ngasha knew not to take it too far as Quanza doesn’t tolerate nonsense or misbehaving. Quanza is tough and can be very strict with the naughty boys, keeping them in line.

19 June 2016

There were very noisy birds shouting in the trees which were disturbing the orphans whilst they were trying to eat their lucerne in the morning. Zongoloni, Jasiri and Ngasha eventually had enough and ran away from the shouting birds. Only Murera and Sonje were left taking care of Mwashoti and Alamaya. At the mudbath time, all the babies enjoyed their lovely time wallowing while two antelopes also took their time drinking water, as the elephant’s rolled and played in the muddy water. The antelopes shared their time together with the orphans and all were very friendly with each other!

20 June 2016

All of the babies were in a very jovial mood celebrating their new day, going into the forest to look for soft branches. Zongoloni and Ngasha lead some of the orphans with them, together with Lima Lima who was pushing her friend Alamaya in front of her to make sure he was with her all the time. At around 11am, Mwashoti while struggling to break some soft acacia leaves when he was scared by some bushbucks and some Guinea fowls flying over his head. He ran away from them back to the rest of the herd, Sonje and Murera ran up to him and found him breathing heavily; they patted him all over with their trunks in order to calm him down and reassure him all was well. When the babies arrived at the mudbath, all the orphans felt it was very cold and no one was ready to go into the water. Instead they all went to other big waterhole full of water lilies, which they looked at to eat. No one wallowed in the water and they only drank a bit then followed their Keepers to the forest for more foliage. After some time they came across some wild elephants that showed some interest in approaching them, but they never came too close when they heard the Keepers talking behind the orphans

21 June 2016

The orphans love their dairy cubes in the evening but they also tend to make them thirsty! When the babies came out Ngasha led his friends straight to the water trough to drink. The orphans walked out following Lima Lima and Alamaya all the way to Umani Hills. Alamaya stopped on the way when he found some dust and began dusting his head with the soft soil. The other orphans were also busy, as the older boys Jasiri, Ngasha and Faraja played their pushing games, interlocking their trunks and trying out their strength and sizing each other up. At the bottle feeding ground near the Umani Lodge it was interesting to watch Zongoloni and Quanza competing to get to the bottles first. Zongoloni seemed to be faster than Quanza, and she arrived first to grab her bottles straight from the ground without waiting for a Keeper to give her a bottle; Quanza always waits to be given her bottle by a Keeper. The big elephants were seen crowding around Mwashoti and Alamaya at the dust bath, giving them protection from the naughty boys Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha who were walking towards them. As the babies were getting ready to walk back home, Alamaya felt thirsty again and went back to the waterhole where he put his mouth down to the water like a cow, but by not using his trunk like elephants do!

22 June 2016

When the orphans finished feeding on the lucerne in the early morning after coming out from their night stockades, they all crossed over the road to the Umani Hills to see what they could find to feed on. Ziwa looked very happy and full of beans today, properly for the first time since the babies arrived 2 weeks ago. Lima Lima got very jealous when she saw Zongoloni trying to come over and steal her baby boy Alamaya. Zongoloni was trying to browse near him, but Lima Lima thought she was trying to take her new baby away. She went to push Zongoloni away but she found Zongoloni very tough; however she accepted what Lima Lima wanted and went away leaving Alamaya. Lima Lima is the best mama to Alamaya as Sonje and Murera is to Mwashoti. Murera and Sonje put their young boy in between them so no one to could come and take him away from them. Quanza followed Lima Lima up to the Umani Hills, consequentially leading all the orphans for a walk. Some baboons came running over making a very big noise and shouting, their young ones screaming as if they were in danger. The whole herd separated, running away from the shouting baboons. Quanza made a quick turn running back to their keepers bringing all the babies back together. It was hard to tell Mwashoti apart from the others, even with his bad leg, he ran just as fast as the others down the hill! It is so nice to see him doing so well.

23 June 2016

Mwashoti used all his tactics to get to the soft grass; he used his tiny little trunk to cut down some of the hardest grass and put it in his mouth, with some branches too. Murera and Sonje heard Mwashoti screaming loudly and they went to see what was happening to him, together with Alamaya who left Lima Lima to go and see why Mwashoti was shouting so loudly. They found Ziwa trying to push him and pull his tail which he did not like and Murera and Sonje went to push Ziwa away from him. Zongoloni also got into the same trouble with Murera because she was browsing near Mwashoti and Murera did not like it. At the dust bath, Quanza was stung on the tail by a tsetse fly and she went to the scratching rock to make it better. She decided to not wallow and instead she left the waterhole area and continued with scratching her tail and keeping the flies off her body. For some reason all the orphans went charging off into the forest, bashing bushes down and stamping around. Wild elephants then appeared and together with the orphans they charged around together. The Keepers kept very quiet, watching how the babies reacted with their wild friends. As usual though Murera stopped her herd from going off with the wild elephants. After being blocking from going off with their wild friends, Faraja came up to one of the Keepers to suck on his fingers like a little nursery baby, while Sonje lay down on the ground to allow some of the younger ones to play with him and climb on her back. She was trying to lure them away from wanting to follow the wild elephants! After the wild elephants left, everyone gathered together and they all went looking for more food for the rest of the day.

24 June 2016

Bush bucks arrived early in the morning to drink from the waterhole and look for any leftover lucerne, before the orphans had even come out of their stockades. When Zongoloni came out first she went over to Alamaya to pat him over his body with her trunk, trying to convince him to follow her to the forest. Alamaya agreed to follow Zongoloni, but turned looking for Lima Lima as well. Ziwa then joined Alamaya and Zongoloni to feed and he seemed very good, not being a trouble maker at all with the young Alamaya. Actually he was very nice to him, and Alamaya enjoyed being with Ziwa browsing in the forest. After bottle feeding at midday, all the orphans went to the dust bathing soil. Alamaya sat down in the dust and threw dust on his head using hi tiny trunk.

25 June 2016

The day started well with all the babies in a very good mood looking forward to their day out in the forest. Lima Lima took her baby boy to walk with her towards the water springs. Alamaya put his trunk down to touch and smell the dung the wild elephants dropped in the night. Lima Lima waited patiently with her trunk on Alamaya’s back. Mwashoti also went to look at what Alamaya was doing, so he could do the same. At the mud bath at midday, the young boys again turned out to be swimming stars out of the Umani orphans, not like the big boys Ngasha and his friends who fear the water more. Alamaya put his bottom deep inside the waterhole, rubbing it up and down; from outside the water pool we could not see what he was doing, we could only see his head shaking and it looked like he was dancing!

26 June 2016

Alamaya and Mwashoti were inspecting deep inside the lucerne grass this morning to see if there were any dairy cubes in the grass. Ngasha and Ziwa followed what Mwashoti was doing, thinking that they might also find some dairy cubes which the Keepers give the little ones. They weren’t successful but instead they found some of the sweetest branches available, and some acacia seed pods dropped by the baboons. As he was eating some buffaloes arrived near Ziwa which scared him and he ran to the Keepers for help. The weather turned very hot before the day end, and all the orphans turned to walk to the waterhole available near them to cool down their hot bodies. In a few minutes all the babies’ bodies were wet and some of them decided after to the dry their bodies on the grass. Quanza sat her bottom on the grass to dry herself. Sonje and the playful Murera allowed all the orphans to play and climb on their back. After some time Murera got up though, leaving some of young orphans looking and wondering why Murera was walking away; but it was because of her bad leg and she cannot play for too long or have too many babies playing on her back at once!

27 June 2016

Lima Lima got the support from Murera and Sonje to lead the big herd of orphans out to the forest to begin their day. Today the orphans did not want to go very far, and instead they browsed along the Umani Hills, not far from the path, going towards Kenze Hills. At midday all the babies seemed to be very happy browsing along the hills, and many did not want to move away for mudbath time because they had found a great variety of vegetation along the hills. Because it was cold they did not feel like mud bathing anyway, so the Keepers brought all the milk bottles using the vehicle to where they were busy browsing along the hills.

28 June 2016

Last night it was like a meeting for the wild elephants to come and meet at the stockade water trough. They came to the stockade waterhole in very large numbers, with young babies too, making the Keepers quite anxious they might push on the fence and get in to the compound. However it so happened they were just thirsty, and were looking for water to quench their thirst. They finished all the water which was inside the waterhole, forcing the Keepers to release more water for them. The orphans were very noisy and all of them were pushing on his or her gate to try and to get to the waterhole to join the wild elephants there. Lima Lima and Quanza pushed one side of their wall, knocking down one post and forcing their way out! But when the Keepers came to talk to them, the babies cooled down, and their wild elephants’ friends also took off away from the stockades when they heard the commotion. When the orphans came out from their stockades in the morning, they all went to the waterhole to smell what their wild friends did in the night. Ziwa and Jasiri tried to follow their path, whilst the others including the young boys Mwashoti and Alamaya, drank some water. The young boys were very strong and pushy to get their share of water, even with the big boys. After drinking water, Lima Lima lead Quanza, Zongoloni and Ngasha out to the forest. Jasiri wanted to walk alone and not follow any of the older females; Jasiri and Faraja think they are big boys and capable of being left alone to decide their own affairs, without involving the matriarchs.

29 June 2016

The Keepers stood watching how the babies were eating in the early morning in the lucerne feeding corner, before walking away. The Keepers were very happy with Murera, looking how nice and big her tusks are growing; it is good for her to have them long, to help her strip branches and also discipline any naughty behaviour! When the babies decided to leave the compound, some followed Ziwa and Ngasha, and Sonje made away with the young Mwashoti. Quanza walked in her own direction, and when she reached the forest she apparently felt very sleepy. She took a break standing under the shades to rest as the other orphans enjoyed browsing near her. Alamaya went over to her and touched her tail, then ran away to Lima Lima!

30 June 2016

Mwashoti grabbed one of Sonje’s big ears this morning and put it in his mouth to suckle on like a baby. Later at the mud bath, a swarm of bees flew overhead as the Keepers watched the elephants playing and enjoying the dust bath. Some of the babies got scared of the swarm of bees flying high above in sky, and Ngasha and Ziwa ran away to take refuge near the waterhole, knowing very well that bees would not be able to get them in the water.