Keepers' Diaries, March 2015

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The month began with a lovely visit from a wild herd with a number of small babies. They were very interested in the orphans, but the presence of the Keepers was troubling for them, but they were bolder than usual and there was rumbling and interaction between the two before the orphans left their stockades. The wild elephants are definitely getting use to this strange situation of elephants with humans and growing tamer each month. The orphans sometimes choose to follow the wild herds and then at other times appear to avoid them. The Keepers let the orphans determine what they want to do.

The month began with a lovely visit from a wild herd with a number of small babies. They were very interested in the orphans, but the presence of the Keepers was troubling for them, but they were bolder than usual and there was rumbling and interaction between the two before the orphans left their stockades. The wild elephants are definitely getting use to this strange situation of elephants with humans and growing tamer each month. The orphans sometimes choose to follow the wild herds and then at other times appear to avoid them. The Keepers let the orphans determine what they want to do.

Jasiri has learnt Zongoloni’s trick of how to lift his bottle from the ground and feed himself milk. One day he was determined to show the Keepers and became very agitated when they attempted to give him his milk bottle until they understood what it was all about. He is also becoming the dominant bull; sometimes more dominant than what is welcome with mounting games when around the ladies. At times they accommodate his antics, but Murera is quick to intervene if necessary.

Ngasha is a timid little fellow, and has had a number of frights this month, a barking bushbuck sent him charging off into the undergrowth, a crocodile fleeing the mud bath did the same, and so did a falling tree with the echo it made around the forest. The others are quick to comfort him in these situations.

March was a very hot month so the mudbaths were the focal point. One of their favourite mud bathing spots has a resident baby crocodile who on a number of occasions this month has had to take extreme action and exit his water hole due to rampaging elephants! The crocodile saga creates endless entertainment for the Keepers and the Umani dependent babies.

Murera has still not entirely recovered from her jealous streak since the baby bulls arrived. There are days when she is quite lovely but I think she does feel they have disrupted things rather as the attentions of Lima Lima and Quanza have been diverted. Lima Lima remains an exceptional character so full of life that it influences the whole unit. Her favourite Keeper went on off duty, but when Amos returned this month she would not leave his side and he found himself with an elephant shadow.

Sonje is lovely to them all, but Zongoloni is her special calf. However she is quick to impart love and comfort to them all at any time. Faraja and Jasiri have been escorted into the shade of the forest on the very hot days, with both the orphans and their Keepers mindful that their albino lighter skin is vulnerable. However with the enthusiastic mud baths they normally have a caked muddy layer protecting them at all times. More details can be found in the Keepers Diaries.

March 2015 day to day

01 Mar

It was very good day as we started the new month of March 2015, the wild herds with their young ones came looking for the orphans at the stockades before the orphans headed out for the day. Jasiri was very brave boy as his name suggest, he took on the brave eye going towards the wild elephants thinking that he was a big boy. He was not worried about the wild group of elephants that were hiding around the bushes. They were obviously dying to come closer but were worried about the Keepers. It was time for the midday feeding and the bottles were already spread and waiting for the babies, Zongoloni came on running, taking her usual corner where her two bottles are being placed for her to pick, keepers did not know that even Jasiri had been taught by Zongoloni how to feed grab his bottle on his own and drink his milk without and help from the Keepers. When Jasiri arrived he did not want a keeper helping him hold the bottle, he was rumbling and shaking his head causing moisture to seep from his gland on his temple, which indicated to the keepers that he was not happy with the keeper trying to help him. We stepped aside after noticing that and saw Jasiri holding the bottle with his trunk and taking the bottle nicely up from the floor just like Zongoloni. Amazingly Zongoloni is teaching the others and for the first time we have elephants not only holding their bottles on their own which we have seen before, but lifting them up from the ground totally unaided and helping themselves to their milk feeds. From there after all the babies went straight for wallowing into the mud, with Lima Lima kicking the water to mix the mud well, and while in the process of mixing the muddy water ,the baby crocodile was disturbed from all the kicking water and came out running away and ran over Quanza’s back as she was lying in the water. When Quanza felt something walking on her back, the mudbath show ended prematurely as the orphans took off out of the water in all directions. The Keepers had to call them continuously to calm them all down.

Jasiri holding his own bottle like Zongoloni

Lima Lima rolling around in the mud

Quanza rushing to the bushes

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