The rains broke in Umani ahead of Tsavo and even Nairobi, returning the forest to a veritable Garden of Eden once more; the Umani Spring producing underground water freely, with abundant fish and crocodiles in residence who call that oasis home. This meant that the wild elephants, as well as our orphans’ wild friend, the adult Bull we have named “Ndugu” were spotted less frequently than during the drier months, the Chyulu Hills now with ample water, so they did not have to rely on that of the Kibwezi forest, although the orphans did still encounter wild friends and interacted with them on occasions. The matriarchs of our orphaned herd, namely Murera and Sonje, are invariably wary of these wild encounters, fearful of losing their charges to the wild elephants, although there was a day when Sonje did approach some of the wild bulls that came to greet the orphans.
The rains also brought out copious beautiful butterflies once more, much to the delight of Alamaya and Lima Lima who love to chase them, despite the butterflies being much more adept at taking evasive action on the damp forest floor! Soft and slippery ground conditions also meant that Mwashoti found it more difficult to negotiate and keep up with the rest of the herd due to his compromised leg from the old snare wound. However, adopted mothers Murera and Sonje always closed ranks around him, propping him up to prevent him from falling. The relationship between these older girls and Mwashoti is particularly touching considering that they too have compromised legs from healed breakages. We were surprised this month when Murera allowed Mwashoti to clamber over her as she lay on the ground, inviting him to play, something that she has never allowed any of the other orphans to do this in the past! However, this can lead to tension between him and Alamaya who is possessive and there was a day when Zongoloni had to come over and reprimand Alamaya for being a bully.
Ziwa, who used to be very jealous of the young bulls, Alamaya and Mwashoti, (being the youngest and as such a firm favourite of the mini matriarchs), has started to be a lot friendlier towards them both, especially Alamaya. One day he took Alamaya and Mwashoti along with him as partners in crime to steal some lucerne from the hay store, but when the keepers shouted a reprimand, the younger bulls dropped their prize and retreated understanding what they were up to was not allowed, but Ziwa was less obedient and needed further prompting!
Ngasha is reluctant to get wet in a rainstorm, seeking out a Keeper to share an umbrella with him! He and the other older boys, Jasiri and Faraja, have been play-wrestling almost non-stop this month, which the other orphans and girls find quite tiresome! Lima Lima, Zongoloni and sometimes Ziwa communicate with them obviously wanting them to desist! One day during one of the wrestling bouts Ngasha ended up on the ground, and because it was so muddy, was unable to get up unaided! Even the older females could not help him up when they rushed to his aid, and it took the input of all the Keepers to get him on his feet again! However, the orphans enjoy the wet conditions it immensely, with natural mud baths at every turn!
Lima Lima and Mwashoti still love their milk the most, whilst Quanza and Murera are becoming less hooked on their bottles, being older. One day we were most excited to see Mwashoti, eager for his milk, running into the stockades behind Alamaya and Zongoloni, trying to compete with them, despite his compromised leg, not wanting to lose the race! He is a lovely quiet boy with a great spirit and he really has healed remarkably well given how horrendous his wounds were. He has come such a long way, and in no small part thanks to the tender loving care of the other orphans both at the Nursery and Umani.