Keepers' Diaries, October 2014

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

October has been a very dry month in the Kibwezi Forest yet rains threaten with pregnant skies and extreme heat. The orphans have settled in and appear extremely happy. They spend hours playing with each other, trumpeting and charging around bush bashing, and they also spend time rotting up the resident monkeys and bushbuck who are beginning to become regulars around their stockade compound. The nighttimes have been full of activity too with many wild elephants visiting them in the night. Their wild friends are weary of the Keepers still so do not stick around too long once day breaks, but this will change in time as we have experienced with our Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit.

October has been a very dry month in the Kibwezi Forest yet rains threaten with pregnant skies and extreme heat. The orphans have settled in and appear extremely happy. They spend hours playing with each other, trumpeting and charging around bush bashing, and they also spend time rotting up the resident monkeys and bushbuck who are beginning to become regulars around their stockade compound. The nighttimes have been full of activity too with many wild elephants visiting them in the night. Their wild friends are weary of the Keepers still so do not stick around too long once day breaks, but this will change in time as we have experienced with our Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit.

There have been a couple of extremely exciting encounters for the orphans, one of them was when they stumbled across a crocodile resting up in the sun.
The surprised croc leapt into the springs making an almighty splash and both combined freaked all the orphans out who sped off in the opposite direction.
Then some close encounters with buffalo have livened things up for both the elephant orphans and their Keepers neither too sure who should be looking after who in these scenarios.

The favoured acacia pods are now finished having been feasted on for most of the dry season by all the wildlife within the Kibwezi Forest. Our orphans are forever hopeful that they might just unearth a much sought after pile and have not given up on searching.

The midday mudbath is a very special time of the day for the orphans, as not only do they get their midday bottle of milk at this time, but they also have the opportunity of having a wonderful muddy wallow. This can take hours on hot days while the Keepers take their lunch under the shade of a Newtonia tree. Lima Lima continues to be the boisterous baby in the midst; at times her bubbly nature is curbed by Murera when she feels enough is enough. Quanza still pulls her trick of holding on to her bottle and depositing it further afield once she feels ready inconveniencing the Keepers who have to keep an eagle eye on proceedings. Zongoloni and Quanza are even leading the orphans out to the browsing fields on some days, a job usually reserved for Lima Lima, Murera and sometimes Sonje. They are all firm friends, but none more so than Sonje and Murera, both of whom have grown physically stronger despite their disabilities.

October 2014 day to day

01 Oct

After a long chilly night the morning began with Murera leading the way to show the babies where to go to for the start of their day. On the way to the browsing fields Quanza had to stop and have a scratch on a fallen tree trunk before she could walk any further, as the ticks were obviously worrying her. Zongoloni on seeing Quanza scratching, began selecting the soft branches for browsing. When the juniors finally reached the fields, they came close to a number of bushbucks that were lying down relaxing near a big troop of baboons. When Lima Lima saw them, she gestured to Sonje then whispered something and they all started chasing the baboons far away from the browsing area. The bushbucks then disappeared with the baboons. At the waterhole, all the babies felt the hot sunny weather and went wallowing vigorously with Quanza rubbing her bottom deep in the mud. After wallowing, the elephants left for the shade of the trees making a straight line as if they were to be counted.

Murera leading the way

Quanza stopping for a scratch

Zongoloni selecting soft greens

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