Keepers' Diaries, November 2018

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Sonje was extremely playful this month which was lovely to see. On quite a few occasions she came out of her room in the morning and walked over to the loading wall to play on the ground there. She played in such style, pulling all sorts of extravagant poses, so much so that the Keepers remarked it was hard to tell she had a bad leg at all. 

01 November 2018

Sonje was very entertaining this morning as she playfully ran around the stockades, scratched against the loading walls, and even allowed Alamaya and some of the other boys to climb on her back as she was rolling around. 

After their morning antics, the orphans ran straight into the bush to browse. They were being directed by Murera and Sonje who lead them all the way to the top of the hills. Whilst in the forest, along the Umani Hills circuit, the orphans almost ran into a herd of buffalo. Thankfully, Mwashoti caught wind of the buffalo and alerted the others, including the Keepers, who eventually shouted at the buffalo causing them to move away.  

02 November 2018

After their evening feed, the orphans calmly walked back to their stockades. Whilst some just began picking at the branches, Alamaya and Mwashoti stood in the shade of their stables waiting for the rain to pass. Although Shukuru was calmly eating her share within her stable, Alamaya seemed to become a little restless and pushed the wall as Shukuru moved around her stable. Shukuru touched Alamaya’s small tail causing him to become more restless moving his tail away from her. 

03 November 2018

Greedy Lima Lima tried to sneak over to where Shukuru’s eats her Lucerne pellets but the Keepers shouted at her to leave Shukuru’s pellets alone. Before she ran away Lima Lima managed to grab a trunkful of pellets however and run off with them. The Keepers could not help but laugh at her greedy and crafty ways. Mwashoti had watched Lima Lima and decided to try his luck as well, but he is not as quick as Lima Lima and he was turned away by the Keepers at the gate.

When the orphans were walking out in the forest later on, four wild bulls appeared and were watching the babies browse. The Keepers thought that one of them might be Osama, Sonje’s friend, but the orphans paid them no attention and the Keepers saw that none of them were Osama.

04 November 2018

Murera was delayed coming out of her stockade today which meant all the orphans stayed back to wait for her as well. None of them would walk out to the forest before Murera joined them. Mwashoti made his way back to go and plead with Murera, who was still scratching her bottom on a post, so that they could all go out to browse and begin their new day. Murera accepted the request from Mwashoti and brought Mwashoti to join all the orphans, so everyone walked to the bushes to enjoy their morning breakfast selection of sweet branches. 

The orphans browsed until it was time for the midday bottle feeding and wallowing time. Shukuru stopped at the dust bath area first, throwing dust on her body to stop the insects biting her. Ziwa and Faraja started play fighting beside the water hole as Ziwa tried to stop Faraja from drinking. Faraja was not happy with that and decided to try and fight Ziwa to access the water. Eventually all the boys were fighting one another and Sonje and Quanza came over to separate all of them to go their separate ways.

05 November 2018

Alamaya and his friends Lima Lima and Zongoloni took the lead today in the morning as they walked the others towards Umani Hills. The other boys in the herd decided to go in a different direction, and leave the girls and babies to go their own way. Ziwa with Ngasha led the bulls in a different direction. 

Some baboons and bushbucks blocked the way for Mwashoti to move towards Sonje. Mwashoti blew his trunk producing a very big trumpet that scared all the baboons and bushbucks to give him way. All the others came running to come and see why he had blown such a big trumpet and found Mwashoti surrounded by baboons and charging around. Eventually he made his way through to Sonje! 

06 November 2018

The elephants were very playful this morning with Sonje showing off lots of playing positions to entertain to others. Mwashoti climbed on her back and played around her, as he loves to be close to the matriarch Sonje. Murera did not leave the compound with the others before Sonje was ready and had finished with her games. 

Zongoloni heard Alamaya yelling and went see why he was screaming out for help, but when she arrived she just found Alamaya and Ziwa browsing and she was not sure why he shouted for help.

Jasiri and Faraja started play-fighting when they disagreed over which path to take to go and browse. They each wanted to go a different way and were adamant that theirs was the right one. In the end their play-fight began to escalate and Lima Lima and the other females walked over to stop them. 

07 November 2018

Osama’s wild bull friends showed up to visit the orphans along the Chyulu Hills where all the babies were busy browsing and playfully enjoying the greens there. Only Murera tried looking around to see who the wild bulls were, while Sonje didn’t seem interested at all and just continued to browse on the branches of some acacia. 

At the waterhole during their bottle feeding time, some crane birds were sported by Mwashoti and Zongoloni waiting at the side of the waterhole. When she was finished with her milk bottles, Lima Lima walked towards them, raising her big ears and trying scaring them away. The birds flew away when they saw Lima Lima and Zongoloni charging towards them.

08 November 2018

The elephants were in very good mood this morning as they came out of their stockades after a good night’s rest. Zongoni and Quanza came out running fast as they ran towards the Lucerne pellet feeding area. Shukuru stood to the side so as to avoid a collision as the boys came rushing out of their rooms too towards the pellet feeding area. Ziwa climbed on top of the offloading wall and Sonje joined him. She began her usual playful games and showing off all styles of poses. It was almost impossible to tell that she had a bad knee as she got down on the ground and played around, and the young boys came over and enjoyed climbing on her back. Jasiri turned his back on Ngasha who wanted to play-fight. 

After a short while all babies took off towards the forest to go and browse. They walked towards the water springs where they found crocodiles enjoying the sunshine. Lima Lima, who was in the lead, stopped to wait for all the crocodiles to jump into the water and clear the pathway, before they continued walking to climb the hills.

09 November 2018

This morning Murera and Sonje seemed to be keeping Mwashoti separate from some of the other boys such as Ziwa and Ngasha. Ziwa and Ngasha can sometimes barrel down the path pushing some of the orphans aside, especially those younger than them. 

After the orphans wallowed in the mud bath they stopped under the shade of some trees, seemingly waiting for the Keepers who were having their lunch. Meanwhile Alamaya and Zongoloni were having a dust bath, trying to dust their whole bodies to keep the flies away. 

10 November 2018

Shukuru shot out her stockade and went to her own spot where she receives her pellets separately from the others. After a bit, she returned to the stockades to inspect each stable for any leftover branches. Murera also made her way back up to the stockades, almost as if to check up on Shukuru, and then they made their way back to the others. Once the orphans were all together, Lima Lima and Sonje led all the orphans out to the forest despite them not having finished their pellets.

Whilst in the forest the orphans where joined by a herd of wild elephants in the Chyulu Hills. The orphans and the wild herd were happily interacting, this made the Keepers very happy to see the orphans getting to know wild elephants and vice versa, as this is all helpful towards their reintegration back into the wild. 

11 November 2018

Today Ziwa and Faraja were in a very playful mood and moved towards the herd pushing each other around. Murera made sure to stay well out of their way, whilst Quanza and Zongoloni seemed to try and separate the young boys, but were unsuccessful. The boys continued to play fight right up until Sonje joined the group, which is when they stopped and eventually moved away from the herd and continued to play fight further away. 

12 November 2018

This morning the orphans made their way down to the springs, where a herd of wild elephants had been trumpeting throughout the night. The orphans, especially Ziwa and Jasiri, seemed quite apprehensive to meet such large bulls with such large tusks. Sonje and Quanza walked very slowly passed the bulls, whilst Murera and Mwashoti kept their distance.

During their mud bath time, the orphans came rushing down to get their midday bottles of milk; Mwashoti and Shukuru were among the first. The orphans who walked slightly slower stayed back and came down in their own time. Lima Lima had to wait her turn in order not to interfere with the other orphans; one of the Keepers had to keep an eye on her while they waited for Murera to finish her bottle. 

13 November 2018

Quanza and Lima Lima got into a bit of a tussle this morning whilst trying to get to the Lucerne pellets. Quanza ended up accidentally getting in Lima Lima’s way, who unintentionally pushed her against the wall. As Quanza was walking out the stockades she had a bit of a limp, which thankfully disappeared after walking and running through the forest.

After the orphans finished in the watering hole, most of the orphans came rushing down for the midday bottles of milk. Murera and Sonje, however, came down very slowly and found their bottles waiting for them. Mwashoti and Alamaya moved off to have a dust bath, whilst Lima Lima and Zongoloni moved to the other side in order to continue swimming, and were later joined by all the boys. Ziwa later on moved off back in to the bushes. 

14 November 2018

During their morning browse, the orphans were approached by two wild bulls. The bulls were slowly approaching the orphans when they were detected by Zongoloni and Lima Lima. As they got closer, Lima Lima trumpeted loudly as if to warn the Keepers and the rest of the orphans. Alamaya and Mwashoti came over to see what was happening. The Keepers later on also came to check on what was happening, and found the bulls amongst the orphans near Sonje and Murera. Murera didn’t seem to be bothered with the bulls and was quite happily walking with them.

This afternoon, the Keepers took some time to get the orphans to make their way back to the stockades. There was so much greenery around and so many acacia trees for the orphans to feed on that they didn’t want to leave the Chyulu Hills. As the orphans started to make their way back the Keepers could not see Shukuru and Murera, so they began to look and call for them. They spent a couple of minutes looking for them before hearing trumpeting. As they followed the trumpeting they found Shukuru and Murera at the front leading the orphans back home.

15 November 2018

The orphans’ morning routines were disrupted by the rain as they all had to remain within their stables, waiting for the rain to pass. The Keepers were also disrupted as they had to go and get their raincoats in order to keep dry. Alamaya had to stop Mwashoti from sticking his trunk through their partition, as he was trying to grab branches, or anything he could from Alamaya’s room.

Ziwa, Ngasha and Faraja kept play fighting until they made their way outside the stockades, forcing the Keepers and the other orphans to make their way out to the bush. Shukuru came running out to join Lima Lima at the front.  

16 November 2018

Whilst the orphans were eating their pellets this morning, Alamaya seemed to be quite disturbed by all the orphans walking past him and near his tail. Zongoloni walked passed him and touched his tail, the Keepers believe that this upset him and as a result he turned around and pushed Zongoloni away. He eventually moved closer to Ziwa and away from all the orphans that were touching his tail.

After the orphans finished their midday feeding, Jasiri, Ngasha and Faraja all ran off play fighting. Faraja accidentally pushed Ngasha too hard as he fell over, down towards the watering hole. Sonje moved over as if to help Ngasha, and they later moved into the water with Lima Lima to cool down under the hot sun.

17 November 2018

The orphans were not very interactive at the mud bath area today as none of them seemed to have any interest in swimming after they had finished their bottles of milk. Instead they all followed Shukuru and went straight to water trough, to drink some clean water. Shukuru, whilst drinking, seemed to remain cautious of all the playful boys and was sure to keep her distance.

At the Chyulu Hills the orphans were joined by some buffalos and a herd of wild elephants. The bulls only came across Lima Lima and Zongoloni and seemed to lose interest, moving away shortly after arriving. 

18 November 2018

Two of Osama’s friends came around the stockades through the evening, almost as if to check in on Sonje and Murera. The bulls found Sonje and Murera sleeping, but as they were sniffing around the stockades and stables they managed to wake them both up. Sonje and Murera walked to the fence to see what was happening before making their way back to bed. The bulls stayed around the stockades and eventually moved off.

Later that day the orphans were led back to the Chyulu Hills by Zongoloni and Shukuru for more browsing. Murera and Mwashoti, who struggled to walk on the hills, stayed behind. 

19 November 2018

This morning the orphans, apart from Mwashoti and Lima Lima, were uninterested in eating their pellets and made their way straight to the bush. The orphans came across a herd of wild female elephants with young calves. Zongoloni and Lima Lima picked up the smell of the females and tried to move the orphans towards the wild herd. Zongoloni and Quanza, however, made it very difficult for the orphans to stay with the wild herd as they tried to play with one of the calves and Lima Lima eventually also tried to play with the calf. The adult females noticed this and did not like it, and chased the orphans away to remain with their calves under the trees. The orphans proceeded to move away and join Murera and Sonje who were further away. 

20 November 2018

Murera and Sonje picked up the scent of wild elephants as they were walking towards the Chyulu Hills. Mwashoti found some dung from the wild herd and started to pick it up and eat it as it is very nutritious for their tummies, and also to know what the wild elephants are eating. Some baboons appeared in the tops of the trees making very loud noises as they jumped around overhead. This annoyed the orphans so much it forced them to change direction and walk along a different path.

Ziwa and Ngasha wanted to lead all the orphans towards the springs to get some clean water to drink, before moving off in a different direction towards the Umani Hills. The orphans liked to go and browse there as there are so many acacia trees with tasty leaves and seed pods.

The browsing continued until bottle feeding time when all babies trooped back for their bottles. Shukuru led them upfront, running to be the number one ahead of Alamaya, Mwashoti and Zongoloni who are always the first to arrive for bottle feeding. Today it was different with Shukuru leading all orphans for their bottles, then she went to the waterhole to splash some water on her chest, before going to the dusting area for a dust bath.

21 November 2018

We are noticing subtle changes in Mwashoti recently as he gets older and grows too. He has always been a gentle and innocent little chap but his character is changing slightly. For the first time today we saw him pushing Quanza very strongly to keep her away from the Lucerne pellets that he had already collected up ready to eat. When he saw Quanza getting too close, he jumped over trying to reach her above the shoulder but he could not reach her as he is so much smaller than her. Instead he pushed her with his tusks in her belly, making Quanza just walk away and leave him alone. This character is not normal for Mwashoti as he is usually a good boy but perhaps as he gets older he will become more bullish like the others. Alamaya has been slightly more bullish for a while, picking up habits from the older bulls and pushing some of the others around.

Today at the bottle feeding area, Lima Lima and Quanza arrived last as their friends had come earlier for the bottles. Some Hadada Ibis’s who had come to the water hole to find insects were making so much noise the elephants decided to leave and not even wallow.

22 November 2018

A rainy morning interrupted the elephant’s daily programme. As the Keepers gave out their bottles it began to rain, forcing the elephants not to come out from the stockades yet fearing the cold and being rained on. Only Murera and Sonje walked towards the gates. Mwashoti rumbled to them and Sonje came over to get him to convince him to walk out with them, but Mwashoti refused, along with Alamaya; none of them wanted to walk out into the rain until it stopped.

When the rain stopped and the orphans eventually chose to walk out to the forest, Lima Lima went with Ziwa and Zongoloni to collect the young boys to move walk with them towards the Umani Hills. As they browsed, they came across some bush bucks and buffalos were also grazing. Ziwa and Ngasha charged at them to move out of their way and eventually they moved, which made Sonje and Murera more relaxed as well.

23 November 2018

Shukuru looked very active and strong today. She did not want any of the orphans, including the young bulls, to underrate her, and she walked about fast, strong and with purpose for the whole day, browsing and filling up her empty stomach. Alamaya thought he would test Shukuru. When he saw her coming out of her stockade he tried to face her but she just ignored him. Then Alamaya tried to hold her tail but he missed and Shukuru just continued walking to the bushes to forage.

A short while later two monkeys jumped on top of the tree where Shukuru was busy eating and she turned back very quickly, running to where Lima Lima was with some Keepers. Shukuru changed her direction to the Umani water springs to have some water. Some of the crocodiles who were basking along the banks of the springs, enjoying the morning sunshine, got scared of Shukuru and jumped into the water. The splashing gave Shukuru a fright and she ran back to where the others were browsing, trumpeting. Her trumpeting broke the silence of the others browsing quietly and they all started running around looking for Shukuru and why she was shouting. When they all linked up Shukuru settled down again and they all walked off in a different direction to browse.

24 November 2018

After all the elephants finished their bottles at the midday feeding, some of the orphans decided to wander off in a different direction, giving Murera and Sonje a hard time to collect and bring them all together for the rest of the days browsing session. The boys, led by Ziwa, chose to walk towards the water trough near the Umani Springs lodge. Murera controlled the small group of the young boys but Alamaya then also left to walk with Lima Lima, leaving Sonje and Murera with just Mwashoti.

Sonje later found Jasiri, rolling on some ant hills and scratching his neck. She also got down on the ground and rolled over Jasiri’s back, making it hard for him to get up and walk. He yelled out for the Keepers to come and help him, and the Keepers came running to help Sonje move away so Jasiri could get up. Meanwhile the rest of the orphans browsed peacefully and played in the small puddles that had formed in the forest from the rain, splashing mud on themselves and rolling so as to keep the insects from biting them. 

25 November 2018

Sonje started her day with some very nice games again, when she came out from her stockade and started scratching against the loading wall; first she scratched her bottom, then she walked to the top of the loading wall for more fun. The Keepers were laughing very much at the different poses she played in. She was very flexible, turning her bad leg around as if she did not have a bad leg at all! She enjoyed rolling around in the dust, and later got up and walked away to the forest with Mwashoti following behind. Murera followed at the back to keep Mwashoti in the middle, away from Ziwa who looked like he was in a pushing mood today.

When the elephants came for their midday bottle feeding today, Zongoloni and Alamaya were the last to arrive and we could hear them rumbling complaints. Some Keepers went to see what was keeping them and found some buffaloes blocking their path. The Keepers helped move the buffaloes by shouting at them and then Zongoloni and Alamaya were able to walk down to have their milk bottles.

26 November 2018

The orphans did not want to stay around the Lucerne pellets feeding area today. When Ziwa came out of his room, followed by Shukuru who was the last one, all of the orphans took off very fast towards the forest, like they were very hungry and were rushing to get to the nicest leaves and branches. Only Mwashoti turned back with Quanza to come back and clean up where all the Lucerne pellets were on the ground; they did not want any of the monkeys to come along and eat their nice Lucerne pellets.

A while later the Keepers heard one of the orphans yelling in the forest so they went to investigate. What they found was some of the bulls having a wrestling match. Ngasha was play-fighting with Faraja and Ngasha was the one screaming, trying to get space so he could fight back as Jasiri was backing him up against a tree.

27 November 2018

The orphans were very restless last night and making a lot of noise as their wild elephant friends were rumbling very loudly all around the stockades. They came right up to the fence line and rumbled so loudly. Sonje was very excited as she thought that her admirer Osama might be among the wild elephants outside. The elephants remained close to the water trough just outside the stockade and when they walked back to the fence again, Ziwa and Faraja started yelling, loud enough that the Keepers came out of their rooms to see why the orphans were making so much noise. 

In the morning when the orphans came out for their new day, none of them stopped for the Lucerne pellets again and they all walked straight to the water springs looking for their wild friends. They did not find them, until Lima Lima spotted a wild bull browsing on the hills and followed his path. Murera and her young friend Mwashoti together with Sonje decided to stay at the base of the hill and did not follow the others who walked up, because of their bad legs that do not like slopes. 

28 November 2018

Lima Lima and Quanza were very badly behaved in their stockades last night. Lima Lima was walking around and around in her room and Quanza was charging at their shared wall the moment Lima Lima got too close. Lima Lima was active right up until midnight when she pushed her name tag on the wall off with her tusks, then pulled it inside the room and started to play with it by her feet.

29 November 2018

As the orphans were busy browsing along the hills, it started to rain which threatened to interrupt their browsing activities. Shukuru and Sonje did not like the rain as it fell harder, and they looked for the Keepers to help them by sheltering under their umbrellas too. Shukuru found Mwashoti had already gone to the Keepers to help him, which forced Shukuru to turn back to avoid Mwashoti who was looking as if he wanted to push her away. He can be quite jealous and Shukuru is a very humble girl and not a trouble maker. She is very quiet which is why Sonje helps and sticks up for her when any of the others pick on her.

30 November 2018

In the morning it was raining heavily again which delayed the orphans from coming out to browse. The rain began in the middle of the night and the heavy downpour upset Lima Lima and her friend Zongoloni. They started to push against their stockade walls trying to get out, but the heavy rain forced them back under the covered part of their rooms.

In the morning after they had both taken their bottles of milk, Murera and Sonje tried to walk out of their rooms but the ground was very slippery. They walked very slowly and carefully which meant the boys took over the lead as they wanted to get out to the forest quickly to browse and the older girls were being very slow.