Keepers' Diaries, June 2020

Select your unit:

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

This was a joyful month at Umani given that the two new arrivals, Luggard and Enkesha, were delivered and settled into their new home. From the very first day it was clear how Murera and Sonje were going to fiercely guard and look after Luggard, and Murera in particular dotes on the little one from morning when they first come out of their night stockades, until when they return home at night. She can even be seen communicating to other females such as Quanza or Sonje to watch over him if she ever wants to do something herself. Similarly, we have often seen Luggard looking up at Murera as a calf would their mother, so comfortable in her presence that he can happily fall asleep leaning against her shoulder. A bond has been struck that is so beautiful to behold and we could never have hoped for a happier outcome for Luggard.

In turn, as the older females jostle for Luggard’s affection, this has created the space for Enkesha to thrive in her independent nature. She was the perfect companion to make this journey with Luggard in this regard. As the weeks went by since their arrival this month, Enkesha was able to socialise and interact more and more with the other members of the Umani herd. One surprising friendship has been observed between her and Ngasha, one of the more independent orphans, known as the ‘night-clubbers’ by the Keepers as they like to stay out all night and make a lot of noise in the forest while doing so! Ngasha is an older bull but also very gentle and humble and is often seen keeping the little girl company. This has worked very well for Enkesha, as usually all the females in the herd are busy trying to take turns looking after Luggard, but Sonje and Murera are always there to look out for her, and won’t let any of the other bulls be too rough with her either. Quanza is happy to be Enkesha’s ‘body guard’ and escort her wherever she would like to go, but Murera has had to put a stop to Ziwa and Alamaya’s naughty behaviour a few times this month. One day the boys thought perhaps little Enkesha and Luggard were ready to play but before they could make a move, Murera sensed their intentions and gently urged the boys to take their pushing games elsewhere. Since the two new babies arrived, Murera has encouraged Alamaya to connect with the independent group like Zongoloni, in an effort to encourage his independence. Alamaya has welcomed this new phase in his life and is seen spending more and more time with Zongoloni, but often comes back looking sleepy and tired after their excursions.  

It has been remarkable to watch Enkesha show off the new skills she has learnt in just a matter of weeks in her new home. She knows where to browse and what vegetation has medicinal purposes too; she is obviously been a keen student when Sonje and Murera have been imparting this wisdom on her. 

Luggard is flourishing under all this care and attention. We can see that Lima Lima is desperate to get close to him, as well as Zongoloni, but Lima Lima is often found idling nearby ready to take advantage of any opportunity, although Murera is quick to ensure her baby remains under her care, despite Lima Lima’s persistence. Murera and Sonje looking after Luggard seems to work because they can also keep the same pace as the little boy as well, which is a little slower than the rest.

One day towards the end of the month we were surprised to find that Jasiri was the last to return from spending the night out, as Zongoloni had already arrived earlier with Ngasha, Faraja and Ziwa. He has obviously been having a fun time socialising with wild friends, but we couldn’t help but recall that it wasn’t long ago that Jasiri was too anxious to spend nights out with his age-mates, but things have changed and now occasionally he is the last one to arrive back! This is a wonderful next step for Jasiri. Usually the night-clubbers tend to make their way to the stockade in the morning together and more often than not, Ngasha will always accompany Zongoloni if the others decide to stay away until later.  

While we celebrated the arrival of Luggard and Enkesha to Umani and marvel at how well they settled down into their new home, this month was also tainted by a sense of loss and great sadness with the death of our wild elephant friend Ndugu, due to fighting injuries. He was like a big brother to the Umani herd and with his gentle demeanour he was a true friend to all of us. Faraja in particular seemed upset by his loss and we found him socialising with another wild bull friend after Ndugu’s death, perhaps another elephant who had circled in sensing the loss of one of their own.  We are happy to report that Shukuru has begun to thrive more with the arrival of Enkesha and Luggard. Physically she is feeling better after being extensively medicated as we try to get on top of her underlying problem which does still remain rather a mystery, but she has brightened up enormously with the welcomed distraction of these too little babies arriving in the fold, and being in such a good head space has transcended into better body condition too, and she is definitely a perkier in recent weeks.

June 2020 day to day

01 Jun

It’s been a very happy beginning of the month for the orphans and Keepers alike. With the arrival of two new babies from the Nairobi Nursery, Enkesha and Luggard, the Umani herd has expanded and given Murera the joy of enhancing her nurturing skills.  

There was tangible excitement as the lorry drove up to Umani. Lima Lima was the first one on the ramp, with the rest of herd and Keepers looking on - she had already sensed the new arrivals. As the lorry doors opened to let out the weary travellers, Lima Lima was right there to welcome them and the Keepers ready with milk bottles for Enkesha and Luggard. Another surprise awaited the Umani family. Edwin, our beloved Nairobi Nursery Head Keeper had decided to visit us! He was overjoyed to see how Murera and Sonje were faring, as well as all the others of course, but the oldest Murera and Sonje had passed under Edwin’s care when they first arrived at the Nairobi Nursery too. It was a joyous and celebratory moment for all!

Once Enkesha and Luggard had their milk, they seemed a bit more relaxed. Murera and Sonje couldn’t wait to adopt one of the babies and the popular choice seemed to be Luggard, as they were immediately mindful of his compromised leg. Both girls jostled to get close to Luggard, as he enjoyed the undivided attention from the older girls. They were curious about his bad leg and reassuring as well, comforting him with gentle rumbles and touching of trunks. Enkesha, with her independent spirit seemed to settle into her new environment very quickly, embracing her new home. All in all, today was a great success and the new babies settled in for the night quite comfortably.

Luggard talking to Lima Lima

Enkesha on the dustpile

Enkesha Luggard and Murera bonding