Keepers' Diaries, March 2016
Umani Springs Reintegration Unit
We are building a few more stockades at Umani Springs anticipating new arrivals in the fullness of time. These new stockades have become a great point of interest for the Umani orphans, who inspect them almost daily, with Sonje particularly interested, sensing there may be more babies coming her way! No plans have been made as to who will be coming and when, although our Nursery baby Mwashoti, with his compromised leg, will definitely be a candidate in time, coming, of course with some of his favorite friends.
Lima Lima is the ears and eyes for the Keepers in Kibwezi Forest, mindful of their safety at all times. She is quick to sense any potential danger from wild elephants and buffalos, giving her human family timely warning. This month there have been many encounters with wild elephants - big bulls and some females herds as well. The Kibwezi Forest wild elephants are definitely becoming more used to the presence of the Keepers, more comfortable exposing themselves frequently during the daytime now, and becoming bolder in their presence. One bull, bolder than the rest, even joins the orphans sometimes for their midday mudbath. Given that this unit is still very new at just two years old, it is remarkable to see this transformation. It is not just the elephants that are becoming tamer and more trusting, but all the wild animals of Kibwezi Forest now that It is fenced on three sides, with the fourth large boundary open to the Chyulu Hills National Park. The buffalo population is also taming down, as are the bushbucks, who have increased enormously now that bushmeat poaching in the area has been eliminated for well over six years. However, bushbucks have taken a hammering this month from the resident leopards , our keepers witnessing two recent leopard kills and two Leopard cubs having also been sighted by the Keepers. On the 14th of this month, a leopard was in one of the tall acacia trees that fringe our Umani stockades and was extremely vociferous all night. His rasping call kept both elephants and Keepers awake, agitating the entire compound and inhibiting sleep. Later in the night a bushbuck fell prey when the leopard pounced on it in the early hours of the morning and sequestered her kill in the forked branches of a high tree. At night wild elephant herds become bolder than usual and love to drink the fresh spring water from the Orphans trough situated close to the stockade entrance. This month some female herds with tiny babies spent time close to the stockade perimeter fence communicating with our orphans for hours, while the Keepers observed the exchange from the safety of their night duty tent perched on a platform.
01 March 2016
Sonje walked out of her stockade very slowly, together with her room mate Murera. Once out Sonje went to fetch her special boy Ziwa after which she knelt on the ground to allow him to play with her and mount on her back, always a favourite pastime for Ziwa. It was not long before Murera followed Sonje’s lead giving them both time to play with Ziwa. Jasiri was busy looking for a rock to scratch against so as to remove some of the tiny ticks that she had on her tail and cheeks.
After spending the morning browsing within the forest, Lima Lima looked for a waterhole from which they could get a drink but the area they were in was dry. The herd made their way early to the milk feeding glade, where there are many varied waterholes with fresh clear spring water, and a number of mudbaths. The orphans milled around in this area, feeding on sweet fresh grass, taking their fill of water, and then later their milk bottles and finally enjoying a well deserved mudbath. Ziwa was the swimming star at the mudbath together with his friends Sonje and Zongoloni.
02 March 2016
It was very busy early morning with all the babies, looking good and happy as they began their day. After their morning milk bottle the babies all began to look for somewhere to scratch their backs and necks, this is the daily routine, as they rub against the huge lava rubbing boulder perched close to their waterhole, or enjoying the rough lava stone wall built for the loading bay. Fallen yellow fever acacia trees prove popular too, as the elephants straddle the trunk and scratch their bellies. Jasiri seemed to want to do his own thing this morning and made his way further afield, eventually stopping for a rub on a fallen tree. Sonje tried to get Ziwa to follow her out to the bush but he was reluctant to do so as he had found some tubers which he was busy kicking with his feet, dislodging the roots, and then he would break them up into small pieces that he could chew to a pulp and swallow. Sonje resorted to remaining behind close to him until such time as he had his fill.
The orphan herd continued with their browsing activities led by friendly Lima Lima. Lima Lima picked up the scent of some wild elephants and buffaloes, and signaled the keepers, always mindful of their safety. The first to be seen by the keepers were the buffaloes which were quickly followed by a big bull elephant who paused for a while before running off frightened by the Keeper. When the Keepers travel with the orphans Lima Lima is very good at signalling the presence wild elephants or anything else in the bushes for that matter so she is in effect the Keepers ears and eyes.
03 March 2016
Murera spent most of the morning enjoying a scratching session against the stone wall sign post where she was joined by Lima Lima who also wanted to relieve an itch. Sonje and Ziwa led the babies towards the dustbath at noon so that they could have their milk bottles as it was already time for the noon feed, with the morning passing quickly. Murera realised that she was not with her friends and had become separated from them but knew that there was no reason to panic as there were keepers around her who were ready to escort her to the rest of the group.
While on her way to rejoin the group she came across the naughty boys, Faraja and Ngasha who were expending energy playing pushing games. The bulls love these sparring matches and endless hours are spent being physical. At the mudbath Ngasha found Sonje lying on the ground and tried to mount her but was unsuccessful in doing so. Ngasha then made his way to Zongoloni to try and mount her but Zongoloni was having none of it and was quick to turn and chase him away.
04 March 2016
As soon as the orphans exited their night quarters they all had their milk bottles and then dispersed browsing on vegetation to fill their empty stomachs. Murera was also busy looking for some soft dust so that she could have a dustbath. In her search she found Ngasha bottom scratching, sat on his bottom in a baboon like posture.
As the mudbath time was getting closer Sonje and Murera put Ziwa between then and escorted him to the dusting soil where the orphans were playing happily. After the dustbath the orphans headed into the forest, remaining close enough to hear and see the keepers who were having their lunch. Once lunch was over the herd moved deeper into the forest feeding as they moved, with the keepers perching on a rocky outcrop to get an elevated view of their charges below.
In the evening, when it was time for the babies to head home to their stockades, Lima Lima and Zongoloni took the lead from Sonje and Murera, and had the orphans back at the stockade compound in time for their evening milk feed. The Umani Springs stockades have been extended to accommodate new arrivals in the fullness of time.
05 March 2016
This morning as the elephants exited their stockades they all went straight to the water trough for a drink before heading to the dustbath for a soil dusting session after which they made their way to the browsing grounds.
Sonje followed Ziwa who had already left with Murera. It was not long before Murera raised her trunk and sniffed the air in all directions as she sensed that there were wild elephants nearby. Upon catching their scent she began to lead the group in the opposite direction as she did not want to meet up with the wild herd who would try to grab some of the babies in the group.
As the morning progressed the weather got hotter and the orphans stopped feeding to head to the waterhole where they all enjoyed the cooling waters of the mudbath. The babies rolled and swam in the mudbath, submerging themselves completely becoming packed with mud. These midday mudbaths in the hot months are lengthy affairs and enjoyed by all of the babies. Zongoloni and Quanza were the last to leave today, and they finished off the session with a liberal toss of fresh red earth over their bodies.
In the afternoon the temperatures dropped and the orphans led by Quanza, Faraja and Ngasha resumed their browsing activities until it was time to return to the stockades for the night. In the dryer months there is less time for play and more time spent in search of food.
06 March 2016
Last night the orphans had very wonderful night as a group of wild elephants visited the babies. They began by going to the waterhole next to the gate for a drink before walking around the stockades. Among the wild group were some tiny babies who kept walking under their mother’s belly. The wild herd consisted of six elephants one of whom was a big bull. It was lovely to see them fraternizing and communicating with our orphans, and the keepers watched from their tent.
Ngasha and Faraja were the first babies to realise that the wild elephants were around them. They then signaled Murera, Sonje and Lima Lima who were at the other side of the stockade. The orphans started to make a big noise pushing on the walls of their stockade in an effort to try and get out with Quanza and Jasiri being the loudest of them all. Murera started screaming very loudly calling to the keepers to come and help prevent the babies from being taken by their wild friends. As soon as the wild herd smelled the keepers they ran off into the forest.
07 March 2016
Lima Lima came running out of her stockade, shaking her head from side to side and trumpeting loudly. She was in a very jovial mood as the group headed to the browsing fields. As usual Ziwa was being escorted by his two adopted mothers, Murera and Sonje, who were busy trying to avoid the pushy boys who were screaming and trumpeting as they made their way towards Ziwa who is the youngest boy in the group and does not like the pushing games that the older boys like to play. Ziwa has found himself two very dedicated Mums, and is a very cossetted and lucky baby.
The day turned hot with everyone feeling the heat including the keepers who wished they could join the orphans in the waterhole for a swim. As soon as the babies finished taking their milk bottles, it was time for wallowing in the muddy mudbath so that the babies could cool down. Before going into the waterhole to wallow, Zongoloni and Quanza started kicking the mud using their feet loosening it up. Lima Lima, Zongoloni and Sonje were the first to enter the water to begin swimming, kicking and splashing to ensure that any baby crocodiles that may have been around were dislodged and vacated.
08 March 2016
It was an extremely hot day today and the orphans could not wait to get to the mudbath so that they could have a wallow in the waterhole. They stood flapping their ears as they browsed in an effort to cool down.
Jasiri and Zongoloni, who could no longer take the heat, ran off headed in the direction of the waterhole. Once there they found the tractor adding water to the mudbath. The noisy tractor did not distract them from their objective as they jumped into the water and started wallowing. It was not long before the rest of the orphan herd joined them and they engaged in swimming competitions. Murera was the only orphan not to enter the water choosing instead to stand on the banks of the mudbath and splash herself. The cool of the afternoon was spent deeper in the forest in search of food.
09 March 2016
The Orphans exited the stockades in the morning and began walking towards the bushes , Sonje however had a different idea and led the babies to go and look at the new rooms being built. After a thorough room inspection Sonje led the babies to the forest.
While heading out a tiny dik dik crossed between Faraja’s legs scaring him and he took off running. Upon seeing this and not knowing what had upset Faraja the rest of the orphan herd also ran off scattering in different directions. The keepers were able to round the orphans up and calm them down. The Keepers decided to relocate the group to a different area, and led them to the Kithasyo airstrip which they had never been to.
At the noon mudbath the orphans found a baby bush buck drinking water. They got scared and started to panic and trumpet loudly thinking it was the same animal that had passed through Faraja’s legs earlier in the morning. Lima Lima did not enter the mudbath choosing instead to keep an eye out for the bushbuck and any other wildlife so that she could alert the other elephants and their keepers early enough so that they would not panic.
10 March 2016
At six am the orphans were already in a happy mood and were joyfully playing at the dust bath celebrating the dawn together with the birds who were busy singing in the trees. They got wind of the fact that their wild friends had been to the dust bath the previous night and some of the babies started to pick up their scent and follow their trails into the forest.
Lima Lima finished rubbing her bottom on the ground before getting up and following the footprints that had been left behind to see if she would meet up with any of the wild elephant. Sadly none of the orphans were successful in locating their wild friends.
Murera and Sonje took the orphans to the waterhole to drink and cool their hot bodies in the muddy water. Before wallowing the orphans were sure to test the water to confirm that it was nice and cool after which Ziwa entered the water followed by the Sonje. The two began to swim around and it was not long before the rest of the orphans joined them, submerging themselves to the point that all one could see was their trunks.
Our albino boys Jasiri and Faraja instinctively know to shelter from the harsh midday sun and spend protracted lengths of time seeking the shade and resting throughout the hot hours.
11 March 2016
Murera and her friend Sonje put their lovely baby, Ziwa between them today so that he would not be exposed to the bullying boys who were just waiting for an opportunity to push Ziwa. Sonje lavished him with attention spreading some dust on his head as the other babies watched. Jasiri and Ngasha were engaged in pushing games which became quite heated as Ngasha grabbed Jasiri’s tail which did not go down well with Jasiri who retaliated and the two came to logger heads until some buffaloes appeared unexpectedly, scaring them and forcing them to separate from one another bringing an end to their feud.
The keepers led the orphan herd to the waterhole for their bottle feed. As they were taking their bottles of milk Murera got the smell of a wild elephant in the forest which got stronger as the wild elephant got closer. When it came out of the forest Zongoloni and Quanza went to interact with him as soon as they realized that he their usual friend who is becoming increasingly bolder and is now seen interacting with them at mudbath. The wild bull was not very fearful today and it seems that he is beginning to trust our babies together with their keepers. The two little girls Quanza and Zongoloni were very enamoured with him, and he with them, gentle and comforting. He is a beautiful big bull, regal and confident.
12 March 2016
As soon as the babies exited the stockades Murera joyfully rolled on the ground trying to entice some of the younger babies to come and play with her. Ziwa and Zongoloni were quick to join her for a while after which Ziwa was taken away by Sonje as it was nearing time to head to the browsing fields.
Ngasha took off with Lima Lima, Quanza and Zongoloni for the mudbath ahead of time after which all the babies ran towards the dust bath for soft dust which they used to dry themselves off. While Ziwa was sitting on his bottom Ngasha stepped on his tail. Ziwa screamed very loudly which brought Sonje running to see what was wrong. Sonje then got angry with Ngasha and pushed him towards the forest so as to ensure that Ziwa as safe and away from the rough and rowdy boys. Despite Sonje’s stiff knee joint, caused by an old bullet injury, she is able to dish out the discipline, and keeps the exuberant boys in order.
13 March 2016
Murera teamed up with the entire herd and decided to put the youngest orphans in between them so that they could get comfort from the matriarchs and this way ensure that the youngest babies were enjoying maximum security.
Some nearby Bushbucks sensed the presence of a leopard in a tree near to them and ran past the elephants barking their alarm call. Faraja and Quanza were caught unaware and got separated from their friends who were all running in different directions. In the chaos Murera and Sonje were struggling to see where Ziwa was and were relieved to see him with the keepers. The keepers then followed the orphans bringing them back together, restoring calm, before leading them to the waterhole for some serious distraction.
After the mudbath the orphan group headed back to the bushes. The albino’s Jasiri and Faraja are the most affected by the hot weather and took refuge in the shade to stay cool. The orphans visited the mudbath again in the afternoon just before returning to the stockades for the night.
14 March 2016
The leopard that was around during the day yesterday came back last night to visit the stockades. It called much of the night with its low rasping sound which kept the orphans very alert. The leopard was happily sitting in the tree waiting to see if any animals who would come to the water springs area. Near Murera and Sonje’s stockade there was a lot of activity in the bushes as the wildlife had seen that the leopard was about and were trying to protect themselves. A Bushbuck sadly passed by the leopard who was quick to pounce and killed him instantly.
The elephants who were worried despite being in the stockades, so together with their keepers everyone was vigilant for the entire night so as to be sure that the leopard would not bother them. This with the electric fence would be highly unlikely, but nevertheless his close presence was unsettling for the babies.
Zongoloni and Ngasha made several attempts to get out and chase away the uninvited guest but were prevented from doing so. During the day all the elephants were still quite shaken and were very wary and easy to spook. While at the waterhole a big buffalo came demanding the wallow and the orphans soon vacated the waterhole leaving it to him to wallow in.
15 March 2016
When Sonje came out from her stockade she looked for Ziwa who she did not see but able to sniff him out. Ziwa was busy hiding against the stockade wall so that Sonje could not see him. She then trumpeted loudly calling to him and he was quick to come out of hiding to join her. When Sonje saw Ziwa running she quickly lay down so that Ziwa could mount her back an action that was copied from the other side by Zongoloni and it was not long before the three were joined by Faraja who also wanted to play. Sonje was long suffering and let all the babies clamber all over her.
The playful babies headed to the waterhole with loud trumpeting to announce their arrival and chase away all the animals and birds that were at the waterhole so that the rowdy elephants could wallow on their own uninterrupted. The swimming started as the other orphans were still waiting for Murera to come near them, so that they wallow together.
16 March 2016
Being the dry season the wild elephants have taken to walking from the Chyulu Hills national park, to the Umani Hills to get water to drink, as the Umani water springs is the surface water in the area now. Whenever the orphans came across wild elephants they feel very comfortable and are happy wanting to make new friends and as such the wild elephants are now getting closer and closer to the orphans becoming more trusting of them and the keepers who accompany them. It is Murera who is weary of losing her babies so does sometimes take evasive action!
Today Zongoloni and Quanza caught the scent of wild elephants and wanted to go and meet up with them. Murera, however, was not in a friendly mood and rumbled loudly calling the orphan herd to her preventing them from joining the wild herd as she did not want to be left alone.
More often than not the wild elephants that the orphans fraternize with closely during the day are lone bulls who come and join the babies at the waterhole so that they can wallow together. Today, Lima Lima went to a wild group of bulls who did not chase her away. She went up to them and started to touch them but got a fright and ran when one of the bulls sneezed loudly. She rejoined the orphans at the waterhole where she found them swimming. The orphans enjoyed wallowing in the mudbath for over two hours today.
17 March 2016
Faraja grabbed a big bundle of lucerne this morning and ran away with it trying to avoid the other babies who were following him very closely in an effort to get the hay from him. Murera and a couple of the younger babies were busy scratching their necks on the tree that they that had fallen across the path that the orphans take when going to the forest to browse.
During the day the orphans foraged nicely along the Umani hill circuits where a very big wild bull came wanting to join them. Murera and Sonje were very scared of the big bull elephant that as approaching them while Lima Lima and Zongoloni were very brave and went right up to the wild boy who was calm and seemed to not be afraid of the humans accompanying the orphans. The Keepers tried to get more of the babies to join him but the only ones to spend time with him were Lima Lima, Zongoloni, Faraja and Jasiri.
18 March 2016
Today two monkeys happened to pass close to where the orphans were picking branches to forage on. As soon as the orphans saw the two monkeys they trumpeted loudly with Ngasha forgetting all about the branches he was feeding on charged the monkeys and chased them away. Ziwa rumbled very heavily for Sonje to join him in the bushes as he had seen a solitary buffalo heading towards him and did not want to be by himself. Of course Sonje obliged and was by his side in no time.
As it was a hot day the babies spent a lot of time in the shade. This was especially true of the two albinos Faraja and Jasiri, who due to their light skin, feel the heat and the sun more than the other babies.
When the orphan herd arrived at the waterhole they found some crane birds having fun in the water. As the babies joined them for a wallow, Lima Lima and some of the other orphans trumpeted in an effort to chase the birds away. The birds were happy to oblige as they did not want to get caught up in the orphans wallowing games.
19 March 2016
Lima Lima together with Zongoloni led the orphan herd all the way into the Chyulu hills where they would get some nice soft branches to browse on.
Murera , Sonje and Ziwa formed their own group, and chose not to follow the rest of the orphans who were foraging further afield. As noon and the bottle feeding time approached, Ngasha started to lead some of his friends to the waterhole where the orphan’s first had their milk feed before entering the water. Lima Lima came running up not wanting to miss out and as soon as the milk bottles were finished the wallowing began. It was quite a distance to the waterhole and it took Murera and Sonje much longer than the rest of the group to get there and by the time they arrived the babies were already having fun in the water. Ngasha was the swimming star of the day.
20 March 2016
There was a lot of commotion in the bushes this morning as there were two leopards with their cubs in the area targeting the bushbucks that were running around trying to evade them while crying out in warning. The orphans were initially caught unaware until some bushbucks came running out of the bushes close to where they were browsing scaring the orphans who ran off just as one of the bushbucks was caught and killed by the leopards.
Once the keepers were able to quiet the orphan herd Zongoloni and Jasiri held their trunks in the air trying to catch the scent of where the bushbucks and leopards were so as to be sure to avoid them. Murera, Ziwa and Sonje were not with the rest of the group which caused some worry. However, it was not long before the three were found waiting for the rest of the group and the keepers. The entire group then headed to the waterhole for their milk feed. On the way Sonje and Ziwa began trumpeting loudly in an effort to scare away anything that might frighten them on the way to the waterhole.
At the mud bathing time all the babies were still agitated and looking very worried about what had happened earlier. Lima Lima continued trumpeting loudly while running around scaring away even the small antelopes who were coming to the waterhole for a drink.
21 March 2016
Faraja started the day by walking around looking for soft green vegetation suitable. He was not in a sharing mood and was busy pushing the other orphans away so that they would not follow him. Jasiri and Zongoloni were not deterred and followed him. He turned round looking at them before he started rumbling and complaining showing them that he was not happy to have them following him.
A disagreement broke out between the two albinos today which was broken up by Lima Lima who went and stood in between them. Jasiri and Faraja both listened to Lima Lima who is the mini matriarch of the group after Murera and Sonje. The babies took their time together making their way to the mudbath after which they seemed to consult one another as to where they would send the afternoon browsing.
While browsing in some thick bushes, Ngasha and Quanza came across the water pipeline and as they were Ngasha started to break the pipe to get the clean water that they were after.
22 March 2016
The Keepers led the orphans to the water springs area this morning so that they could make their way towards the Kenze hills circuits, following the paths formed by the wild elephants. As the babies were following the trails of, Ziwa got the opportunity to smell the wild dungs dropped on the paths, and started to feed on it, like babies do in the wild, this way getting to know which vegetation is suitable for them to feed on.
The elephants did not come to the waterhole for their milk feed choosing instead to stay on Kenze Hill. Murera and Sonje who have difficulty walking long distances due to their injuries were brought their milk bottles. In the afternoon the keepers led the group down Kenze hill and to the mudbath which they enjoyed in the evening before returning to the stockades for the night.
23 March 2016
Today it was extremely hot and the elephants were really suffering. The orphans took to the shade of the trees until it was time for the midday bottle feed. Zongoloni then led the group to the water toughs where they could quench their thirst with some clean water. As the babies Lima Lima and Faraja raised their trunks to try and catch the smell of some wild friends who were nearby waiting for the orphans to finish before they came for drink. It was however so hot that they decided not to wait and came to the waterhole and joined the orphans.
24 March 2016
Faraja headed off on his own early in the morning in search of some nice vegetation to fill his belly. As he was busy foraging on the rocky side of the Chyulu hills, he came across a big tortoise who was struggling to walk crossing the lava rocks. Unfortunately Faraja did not know it was a tortoise, and thinking it was a rock stood on it which sadly killed it. The keepers found Faraja with the dead tortoise and moved it away.
Today Ngasha, who is usually reluctant to enter the mudbath, was the first one in which surprised the keepers. He then proceeded to have a wonderful wallowing session as he rolled around in the water covering himself with mud.
25 March 2016
Murera and Sonje were slowly making their way to the babies who had left them behind as they hurriedly made their way to the browsing fields. While struggling to join the rest of the orphans, Murera looked worried, raising her ears indicating that something may be wrong. Murera and Sonje with their keepers came across two wild elephants that were resting under a huge tree. It looked as if they were sleeping as their eyes were closed. A keeper who was following the two could not believe his eyes and was amazed by the size of the big bulls and how close he was to them. He was very quick to back away and call Murera and Sonje to follow him. The rest of the morning was uneventful as the orphans were busy browsing.
26 March 2016
The babies were in a jovial mood this morning as they exited their stockades and followed Murera and Sonje, who had stopped to get Ziwa from his stockade, to the dust soil near the newly built stockades. They had a dustbath in the pile of soil before making their way to the bushes. As the orphans were exiting the compound gate, Zongoloni and Jasiri blocked Ziwa’s exit preventing him from getting past them. Sonje was not happy with their antics and together with Murera they disciplined the two naughty boys for bothering little Ziwa.
It was very hot very early and Lima Lima found was found with her eyes closed, dozing in the forests under the shade of the trees. At the noon mudbath and dustbath the babies all had a marvellous time. Some of them were rolling their bottoms on their friends who were swimming peacefully and ended up being squashed in the muddy waterhole. After a lovely mudbath the orphans proceeded to have their milk bottles before heading for a dustbath.
27 March 2016
As soon as Sonje left her stockade she went to get Ziwa’s from his after which she led him to some soft earth so that the two could play and have a dustbath. Ziwa, however, did not seem to want to dustbath and it took some persuasion from Sonje before he would do so.
Ziwa and Sonje, Faraja and Ngasha started to play their pushing and strength testing games to see who was the strongest. Ngasha was knocked down by Faraja. After their games the orphans went to have their milk bottle before heading to the browsing grounds.
After visiting the water hole at noon the babies once again went in search of greens to eat. At the mudabath Sonje and Murera escorted Ziwa to the mudwallow where the two watched over him making sure that the rough boys, Faraja with Jasiri, left him alone and did not bully him.
28 March 2016
Jasiri and Zongoloni were in top form this morning as they happily walked to the water springs area for a drink. Following them from a short distance was Ngasha with his friend Faraja who were foraging as they went. Some of the orphans seemed to be having a lot of fun chasing butterflies as they trumpeted and rumbled their joy for all to hear.
After a morning spent browsing in the forest the orphans headed to the waterhole for a mudbath and to cool their bodies down from the heat and the morning’s activities. While on the way, Zongoloni who was in the lead, got whiff of something nasty which the keepers could also smell but were unable to find what the smell was from until Lima Lima came and showed them where the smell was coming from. The keepers found the carcass of a dead buffalo which was being scavenged by some vultures. The keepers also saw evidence that hyenas had been in the area at some point feasting on the dead buffalo.
29 March 2016
The day began extremely hot for the elephants who were all feeling the heat with liquid pouring down their cheeks. The orphans spent part of the morning playing at the elephant loading bay. Sonje was seen climbing on the other side of the wall crossing her bad leg so as not to hurt herself. Lima Lima was having a lot of fun kicking grass with her feet. After some fun and games the orphans headed to the browsing fields.
A bit before noon the orphans visited the waterhole, for a cooling mudbath. Murera got to the waterhole with very big rumbling touching the other baby’s tails while those touched responded with loud rumbles. Ziwa ran to get Murera’s attention while Sonje, Ziwa’s other adoptive mother, was busy splashing her chest with water.
30 March 2016
Sonje came out of her stockade in a very playful mood as she seemed to hug Ziwa close covering him with her big ears as she led him to the dustbath where she busied herself throwing dust over her body. Sonje then went to see the newly built stockades, inspecting them to see how many new orphans they could accommodate.
Zongoloni led some of the orphan herd out to the browsing field searching for new places to feed where there might be some soft greens. When it was time for the noon milk feed, the orphans heard the car that carried their bottles and ran to get to the milk feeding area. Lima Lima and Jasiri were in the lead and as the orphans ran they blocked the road which meant the keepers had to move them all out of the way so that the vehicle could pass and the babies could have their milk. As it was a hot day again all the orphans enjoyed a vigorous mudbath.
31 March 2016
Murera came out of her stockade looking very playful and energetic. When she saw Ziwa walking next to Sonje she grabbed Ziwa’s tail in an effort to get him to stop and play with her. Ziwa did not seem to want to go with her so she walked into the forest where she found a bending tree that she could scratch her itchy bottom against. She then followed the orphans, who were being led by Lima Lima and Ngahsa to the waterhole for a swim.
Jasiri and Ngasha in the company of Zongoloni left the waterhole in search of clean water to drink which they found at the water troughs together with a baby bush buck that was quenching its thirst. The little bush buck drank his fill while keeping an eye on the elephants and their keepers. As they got closer to him he ran away. Sonje chased the bushbuck for a spell while Faraja stood behind her watching and trumpeting loudly in support.