Keepers' Diaries, November 2019

Select your unit:

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Ziwa has become the ring-leader of the club of orphans who like to spend their nights out in the forest. This includes Faraja and Ngasha and, from the middle of the month, it also included Zongoloni. Perhaps she did not want to stay in her stockade at night without her roommate Faraja, and from then on she chose to stay out in the forest with the older bulls too. Who knew that Ziwa, who only a few years ago was treated as the baby of the herd and was doted upon by Murera and Sonje, would grow so much in confidence to become the ring-leader of a herd of orphans who like to spend their nights out in the forest fraternising with the wild elephants. 

This merry band always like to return early in the morning for their milk bottles, and are often found eagerly at the gate ready and waiting, but sometimes they miss-judge the time and end up being too late for their bottles, which have already been swiped by another orphan like Lima Lima or Mwashoti who have their beady eyes on them ready to claim them. Their nights out in the forest are having a wonderful effect on Ziwa and the others, who always have full bellies and are looking beautifully healthy.

Jasiri still likes to stay within the fold close to the matriarchs Murera and Sonje and the others, perhaps taking his role as their protector quite seriously. He still likes to return to the stockades in the evenings with the others. Quanza and Lima Lima have no interest in following Zongoloni and the boys out at night either, and seem happy to stay with Jasiri, Murera and Sonje, and the babies Mwashoti and Alamaya.

As Ziwa and the others have been choosing to stay outside of the compound at night, the Keepers have also found that it is Shukuru who is the best at locating them. In the morning, just as the Keepers were wondering where the other orphans could have gone to, Shukuru walks off into the bushes, only to come back leading one of their missing members behind her. We have been used to Lima Lima being the expert at locating the others, but actually it seems as if Shukuru has grown into this role as well, and understands her Keepers very well. She has been surprising the Keepers in other ways as well this month, often choosing to lead the herd in the direction she wants to go, and successfully climbing steep hills when the Keepers thought she might struggle. There is no doubt the Umani forest has worked wonders on this little girl, still so small in stature but growing in confidence. She still does not like to be around the boisterous games and chooses not to socialise closely with wild herds in case they turn un-friendly, but she has improved immensely. 

The whole country is green given the huge rains we have been experiencing since October, which have made the Kibwezi forest even more verdant than usual with succulent vegetation growing everywhere and quite literally hundreds of waterholes full to the brim. The swamp is full too and towards the end of the month the orphans were choosing to swim in the larger waterhole favoured by their wild friends. After their milk bottles they would make their way there, where a swimming competition would ensue and the orphans could spend up to an hour or more splashing and rolling around in the water, climbing on one another and playfully smacking the water with their trunks, just like children in a swimming pool.

On the 20th Sonje seemed to be concerned about Alamaya and stayed close to his side. Just as the orphans were leaving the compound, Alamaya sat down on the ground and it was when Murera and Zongoloni helped him stand up that the Keepers noticed his bad leg. The Keepers looked and noticed that he may have strained a muscle walking along some of the rocky terrain and this was giving him a slight limp. Over the next few days his leg improved and thankfully he is okay now; it was fascinating to note it was the other orphans who first drew attention to Alamaya’s issue, way before the Keepers noticed there was a problem too.  

November 2019 day to day

01 Nov

Ziwa, being the ring leader of the big boys club now, likes to take his new cool role very seriously and leads all the big boys out of sight of the Keepers. Today it is two days since all the boys have returned at night, not only including Faraja and Ngasha but also Jasiri too, who normally likes to return to the stockades with the big girls. 

When the Keepers woke up this morning they walked around the bushes outside the compound trying to locate the boys, but they could not find them. Later they heard them but Ziwa just ran away not wanting to follow the Keepers or the others, and all of the boys followed him to the hills leaving Murera and the rest of the herd behind. 

At the mud bath time around midday all the four boys returned. Ngasha followed Faraja very closely and they looked very thirsty and keen for their bottles, but unfortunately they arrived late and found the bottles had been taken by the others like Lima Lima who just grabbed one bottle after another and had them to herself!

Ziwa having a drink of water

Nagasha in the bushes

Lima Lima and Alamaya with flared ears