Keepers' Diaries, June 2019

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

After good rains in May we moved swiftly into the ‘cold’ season characterised by foggy cold mornings and much cooler climes. This season is especially felt in the Kibwezi forest environment, and needless to say there were not too many mud baths for the orphans this month. 

01 June 2019

After a long day of browsing on fresh greens, the orphans made their way back to the stockades for the evening. Along the way, Alamaya came across a large dust mound which he decided to have a play around in. He threw dust all over his body, so much so that he was practically all white by the time he was done. Sonje appeared to be confused by his colouring as she kept approaching him with caution. The Keepers didn’t even recognise the young boy and found his look quite amusing. 

02 June 2019

The orphans were visited by several wild herds through the night. Some of the wild elephants were making quite a lot of noise near the gate, which sounded like they were trying to break through the lock to get to the orphans. One of the Keepers got up to see what was happening but as he came out of his room, no elephants were to be seen but they could be heard throughout the forest breaking branches and trumpeting to one another. 

The orphans were late for their midday bottles of milk today, and the Keepers waited quite a while for the orphans to turn up. When the other Keepers arrived they explained that the orphans came across a wild herd that was blocking the path. Mwashoti and Alamaya were very curious to interact with the wild herd that it took Lima Lima quite some time to get them away from the herd. Murera and Sonje appeared uninterested in the wild herd, even though some of the wild bulls tried to get their attention. 

03 June 2019

With the scattered rainfall throughout the country, more and more wild herds are migrating to the Kibwezi forest for water and greenery. As the orphans make their way to the field they are crossing paths with more of these herds, and the orphans can be seen sniffing around as they pick up on all the new scents. 

Whilst in the field, Ziwa and Faraja have become a little bit less obedient and they have started to do their own things rather than follow Sonje and Lima Lima. These boys, whom are becoming young bulls, seem to be more and more curious about staying out in the forest. A couple of times, the Keepers have had to really call for them in the evenings, and at times they have even ignored their Keepers.

04 June 2019

It was a very cold day today, and none of the orphans seemed interested in having a mud bath after their midday bottles. Some of the orphans, such as Shukuru, just had a sip of water before making their way back to the forest. The Keepers soon followed the orphans after their lunch, but struggled to spot them in the dense bush, so they began to whistle. After a couple of seconds, Lima Lima, Zongoloni and Quanza all appeared out the bush, and they were closely followed by the rest of the herd. 

When the orphans got back to the stockades in the evening, Lima Lima immediately tried to grab some of Quanza’s branches that had been laid out for her. This seemed to really upset Quanza who came running over and pushed Lima Lima far away from her corner. 

05 June 2019

As the orphans made their way out to the field in the morning, some of them were taking short dust baths along the route. At first the orphan herd was being led by Shukuru and the Keepers but then Sonje took over and wanted to lead in a different direction, but she was quickly interrupted by Zongoloni who also wanted to go in a different direction. Eventually the orphans appeared to be quite happy to follow Zongoloni who led them to the hills. Shukuru and Murera also walked to the top of the hills to browse. 

As the orphans made it to the top of the hills, they came across a herd of buffalo that were all still relaxing in the thick bush. Alamaya seemed to be the first to pick up on their scent as he walked back to Sonje as if to show her what he had found. A few minutes later, Quanza and Jasiri appeared to pick up on the buffalos’ scents and they began to charge at the buffalo, ushering them away from the herd. Eventually all the buffalo got up and ran off in their own direction, leaving the orphans in peace.

06 June 2019

It was a very cloudy and foggy morning, making it difficult for the orphans to charge around and play as they came out their stables. As the orphans were heading out to the forest, it appeared as though Quanza and Lima Lima were having a disagreement as to who should look after Alamaya. Lima Lima tried to get Alamaya to move away from Quanza but Quanza was having none of it and she kept pushing Lima Lima away. This carried on until Sonje and Murera eventually came over and separated the two. Having been told off by Sonje and Murera, Quanza decided to spend the rest of the day doing her own thing away from the orphan herd. 

07 June 2019

In the early hours of the morning, the orphans were visited by a friendly bull. He was busy sniffing around the stockade grounds and it seemed as though he was looking for the orphans. The Keepers who were already up noticed the bull but as he saw them he ran away into the forest. Once he was a short distance away he turned and faced the Keepers, flapping his ears as if to warm the Keepers not to get any closer. When the orphans eventually came out their stables, none of them seemed too interested in searching for the bull.

As the orphans and Keepers were making their way to the hills, the same bull appeared and started to walk with Sonje. Sonje appeared to enjoy his company as the two walked calmly together. The Keepers were able to see that it wasn’t Sonje’s usual companion Osama, but rather a new bull. 

08 June 2019

At the midday feeding time, Sonje finished her bottle of milk and then walked over to the water trough to have some water. Once she had finished her water, she made her way over to where the Keepers were having their lunch under some acacia trees. She started to push the acacia trees as if to test her strength and all for fun. As she was shaking the trees, the Keepers were struggling to remain under the shady spots. As she continued to shake the trees the Keepers tried to stop her but she appeared to be in naughty mood and ignored them. Eventually the Keepers had to change lunch spots so they could finish their meal in peace. 

Shukuru and Jasiri followed by Lima Lima and Quanza made their way up the Umani hills. Once at the top, they came across a herd of buffaloes grazing. As this was where the orphans had intended to graze, they immediately changed direction and headed off in another direction, away from the buffalo.

09 June 2019

The Kibwezi Forest is filled with life at the moment, including many antelope groups. Many of these antelopes have gotten used to seeing the Keepers with the orphans. When the orphans got to the Umani hills circuit, they came across a lot of bush buck, klipspringers, and dik-diks. All the animals were happy to mingle and stay close to the orphans and the Keepers.  

At first it seemed as though Lima Lima and Zongoloni wanted to trumpet and chase their new visitors away, but it they were quickly stopped by Sonje and Mwashoti.

10 June 2019

Quanza and Lima Lima seem to be bothering each other more and more within their stables as they keep stealing each other branches. Quanza has even started to bother Lima Lima after she finishes her bottles of milk. Once she finishes, she tries to chase Lima Lima and get her share of milk. The Keepers have had to intervene on several occasions. 

As the orphans were making their way to the Chyulu hills, they came across quite a number of guinea fowl. As Jasiri tried to pass them, they all began to fly, and some flew over his head. This gave him, Faraja and some of the over orphans such a fright that they went running to their Keepers seeking comfort. 

11 June 2019

The orphans were in a great mood this morning, and Shukuru was happily leading the herd out to where the orphans have their morning Lucerne pellets. Lima Lima and Zongoloni tried to take the lead but they were quickly stopped by Sonje and some of the Keepers who were at the front closer to Shukuru. 

As the orphans were walking past the springs there were some crocodiles lying on the edge of the water. Murera and Sonje started trumpeting loudly and began to mock charge the crocodiles, as though they were protecting the rest of the herd. The crocodiles eventually moved away. 

12 June 2019

The orphans were joined by several wild herds whilst in the forest this morning. Faraja stayed with the herds for quite some time, so much that the Keepers thought he may spend the entire day with them. Ziwa tried to stay with the herd but he was being a little too rough and was chased away by one of the younger boys and the herd eventually chased the orphans away. Mwashoti and Alamaya tried to stand their ground but there were too many wild elephants. 

Zongoloni was the first to run down to get her midday bottle of milk and she was closely followed by Alamaya and then Jasiri. The younger orphans are each on one bottle of milk now as they are now old enough to start being slowly weaned off their milk.

13 June 2019

The orphans decided to head over to a new browsing area today, especially as they were being led by Faraja and Ziwa who often head off in new directions as if seeking their wild friends. As Murera and Sonje arrived at the new browsing location they seemed to be confused by the new location, and they both began to trumpet so the Keepers went over to the girls to comfort them and calm them down. It is great for the orphans to discover new areas, as this will teach them to find new browsing territories once living wild. 

14 June 2019

It was extremely foggy on the hills today which made it very hard for the orphans to see where they were going, especially within the thickest parts of the forest. Around mid-morning the fog cleared the sun began to shine through, but the orphans were still hesitant to have their mud bath after they had finished their midday bottle of milk. The Keepers were even warmly wrapped up in their sweaters and jackets. 

After finishing her bottle of milk, Shukuru went over and had a quick drink of water. Ngasha stood back watching Shukuru drinking. Some of the orphans had a short dust bath before making their way back to the forest to browse. 

Once the Keepers had finished their lunch, they started to head back to the forest with Shukuru by their side. Lima Lima came over and appeared to greet Shukuru before they both continued to walk to the forest. Sonje and Ziwa had already climbed the hills and appeared to be waiting for the rest of the orphan herd to join them.

15 June 2019

It was another very cold day, and none of the orphans, including the Keepers, wanted to stay in the shade of the trees. They all wanted to stay in the open spaces, seeking as much warmth from the sun as they could get. Alamaya and Mwashoti were huddled next to all the larger orphans seeking warmth from their bellies as they walked out in the field. None of the orphans even came close to the mud bath after their midday bottles of milk.

Shukuru and Sonje made their way back to the field, Faraja and Ziwa led the boys and Lima Lima led the rest of the orphan herd. Murera and Mwashoti were browsing near the Kenze base just some distance away from the rest of the orphan herd. When it was time for the orphans to head back to the stockades in the evening, they happily all came back together.

16 June 2019

Ngasha and Faraja were very playful throughout the night and wouldn’t stop bothering one another. This appeared to annoy the other orphans and Ziwa pushed the gate as if to try and stop them, but it was all in vein as the two paid no attention to him. The two continued on with their strength testing game until Ngasha eventually lay down and Faraja climbed on his back as if he was celebrating a victory. 

17 June 2019

Murera and Sonje appeared to get annoyed with Jasiri after he accidentally upset Alamaya by touching his missing tail when they were greeting each other. Alamaya trumpeted so loudly that Murera and Sonje both came sprinting over. The Keepers had a look out of concern, but when they saw the older girls comforting him, they knew everything was okay. After comforting him, Murera and Sonje did chase Jasiri away, making sure he stayed far away. Shukuru enjoyed a lovely mud bath in the afternoon.

18 June 2019

It was another foggy and cold day and all the orphans, and their Keepers were huddled together to keep warm. Sonje and Murera seemed to struggle a bit with their old injuries but as their muscles warmed up, they started to walk faster. None of the orphans were interested in their morning Lucerne pellets as they walked straight out towards the forest. As they walked, Alamaya and Mwashoti were sure to stay close to the older orphans, keeping warm. 

Ziwa and Faraja started a strength testing match in the field that carried on for such a long time that most the older girls tried to intervene. At first Zongoloni tried to stop them, then Lima Lima tried, and finally Murera and Sonje came over to separate them. As the young boys saw Murera and Sonje approaching they seemed to realise that they would be in trouble and quickly ran away. 

19 June 2019

When the orphans were down at the mud bath area enjoying their midday bottles of milk, they were joined by some wild elephants. Ngasha arrived at the waterhole with a wild elephant that appeared to hang around in the bushes whilst the orphans finished their bottles. This large bull with big tusks was not shy, and once the orphans were done drinking, he came over to join Ngasha and Ziwa. This seemed to make Murera and Quanza nervous as they quickly moved away and made their way back to the forest. The Keepers remained cautious of the bull and kept their distance. 

20 June 2019

Shukuru was in a very peaceful mood today. As the orphans were making their way out to the forest Shukuru stayed at the water trough drinking some water before slowly following the others out to the field. Sonje, who didn’t realise that Shukuru was far behind them, appeared panicked and went running back to get Shukuru, rumbling and trumpeting when she found her. 

After all the commotion Shukuru kept up the pace and was sure to remain with the orphan herd for the rest of the day.  

21 June 2019

Whilst the orphans were out in the forest, they heard the loud trumpets of a wild elephant calf. They all raised their ears trying to listen to where the noise was coming from. Lima Lima ran over to Alamaya as if to check if he was okay and wasn’t the one trumpeting, and Sonje appeared to be looking for Mwashoti who was happily browsing. Once they were confident all the orphans were okay, they appeared to calm down. A couple of minutes later, two wild females came out the bushes with a young calf. Lima Lima wanted to head over and greet the calf, but she was quickly turned away by the matriarch. None of the wild herds joined the orphans at their mud bath time. 

22 June 2019

Today the orphans were visited by a large bull that seemed to be very interested in Murera. As soon as he arrived, he was by her side smelling her with his trunk and trying to cuddle up next to her. Murera, however was not impressed by the bull and kept moving away from him and eventually she began running away. The Keepers were worried about her as she was running over the lava rocks, but she appeared to be holding her own. 

After quite some time, the bull eventually gave up and moved away. Once he was gone, Murera appeared to gather all the orphans and tried to keep them closer to the Keepers. She seemed to be worried that they bull would come back. Mwashoti was not allowed to move even a step away from her but the older boys such as Faraja and Ziwa were not bothered by her and followed the bull to the bushes. 

23 June 2019

Some of the orphans’ wild friends came to visit this morning at the stockades. Faraja and Ngasha seemed interested in greeting their visitors. Faraja trumpeted and rumbled as the wild friends approached, but the girls seemed uninterested in greeting them. As Mwashoti came out his stable, he went straight over to Zongoloni, Murera and Sonje who were all huddled together staying far away from their visitors. Some of the bulls tried to sneak their way into the girl’s circles, and they seemed particularly interested in Sonje. None of the girls were interested in the bulls and Sonje quickly moved over to the Keepers so that the bulls would leave her alone. 

24 June 2019

It was another very cold day and the orphans again did not want to have a mud bath. They each had their milk and then some of them drank some water from the water trough before heading back into the bushes.

Whilst in the field the orphans and Keepers could hear some wild herds trumpeting along the Chyulu hills. Lima Lima seemed to be frightened by the noise and came running over to the Keepers as if to warn them of the noise. A few minutes later a young bull appeared from the bushes, he appeared wary of the Keepers and stood around for some time before heading off back to the forest. 

25 June 2019

The orphans had a very restless night. It all started when Zongoloni and Quanza became agitated in their stables and started to rumble and push at their gates and walls. This seemed to encourage some of the other orphans, especially the young bull Ziwa to do the same. Hearing all the commotion, the Keepers came out to see what was happening and calm the orphans down. As soon as Ziwa saw the Keepers he stopped pushing at his gate and pretended to be doing something else, as if he was completely innocent. Faraja and Ngasha were not bothered by all the noise and were quite happy relaxing in their stables. The Keepers eventually managed to calm all the orphans down. 

26 June 2019

Faraja and Ngasha have been known to play whilst in their stables, and the two can sometimes be seen with scratch marks on their bodies in the morning. This morning, they both looked very tired as they came out their stockades and the Keepers could tell that they had been up late playing. 

Many of the orphans were in a playful mood this morning as they headed off into the field. Some of the younger bulls began to play fight, such as Alamaya and Mwashoti. Both young bulls were proving their strength as neither of them gave in. However, as soon as Alamaya saw Murera in the corner of his eye he quickly moved away, he appeared to know that he may get into trouble if he hurts Mwashoti whist Murera is close by. 

27 June 2019

Whilst in the field, Faraja seemed to be very interested in what Ziwa was chewing so he put his trunk straight into Ziwa’s mouth and grabbed hold of the branch he was chewing. This left Ziwa looking a bit confused as he now had to look for more branches away from Faraja. 

The orphans were joined by a wild herd at the waterhole. Again, the wild bulls seemed very interested in Sonje. Today, Sonje was quite happy to greet the bulls and they spent some time all smelling each other with their trunks. Zongoloni and Murera weren’t very interested in the wild bulls but appeared to be watching how Sonje and they were interacting. After some minutes, Murera rumbled and moved further away from the visiting herd.

28 June 2019

This morning, Alamaya and Mwashoti were enjoying another strength testing match. Alamaya tried a naughty sneaky move to show his dominance and he grabbed hold of Mwashoti’s tail trying to bite it. Mwashoti, fortunately, quickly realised what he was doing and turned to protect his tail. 

As the orphans were making their way to the field, there seemed to be a bit of a disagreement as to whether they should follow Zongoloni or Lima Lima. As they couldn’t decide, Ziwa, Faraja and Ngasha all intervened, and the orphans continued on their way. 

29 June 2019

The orphans settled along the Chyulu Hills today. Along the Kithasyo area they could see many wild herds eating from the acacia trees. Alamaya and Mwashoti were again having a strength testing match, seeing who could get the most seed pods that had been dropped on the ground by some baboons. Alamaya could be seen quickly picking up the pods and putting them in his mouth before Mwashoti could realise. The Keepers eventually had to separate the two so that they could focus on their food.

30 June 2019

The forest is teaming with life as antelopes, baboons and elephants are seen all over enjoying the vegetation and constant water from the springs. As the orphans were going out into the forest, Zongoloni saw some antelopes and she decided to charge them trumpeting loudly as she ran towards them, and the antelopes went running off. It was another cold day so none of the orphans enjoyed a mud bath at their midday feeding time, but rather finished their milk and then walked off to browse again.

Murera seemed to be in a very grumpy mood this afternoon as she kept picking on Ziwa and Jasiri. As soon as they would walk past her, she would rumble and push them away from her. The only two orphans that could stay near her side were Sonje and Mwashoti, but the rest had to stay far away.