There have been some short rain showers in Kibwezi Forest early this month and with it some humid temperatures which have taken their toll on the babies, necessitating afternoon siestas sometimes. The mudwallow has of course been a great attraction on those hot days, which has unsettled the resident terrapins enormously. Lima Lima has led the Terrapin teasing games, sometimes sensing their presence at the bottom of the pond and forcing them to surface by thrashing her trunk on the water. They are long suffering and desperately stay put, but turbulence sometimes forces them to leave. One day this month Murera intercepted a troop of baboons on the pathway and took great delight in scaring them with charges and trumpets so that they scattered screaming in all directions- some took to the trees, babies fell of their mothers’ back, young timid baboon youths bolted every which way, and since there was a general baboon retreat the other orphans were happy to partake in the chase.
The orphans have been more adventurous this month, one day going as far as Kenze Hill. Sessions up Umani hill have been frequent as have visits to the adjoining Chyulu National Park. With the onset of the rains some of the normally resident wild elephants have moved further afield, but that said some have remained and enjoyed the mud bath and salt licks during the hours of darkness. One day Zongoloni, while further venturing further afield from the rest, came across a female wild elephant and her tiny calf that was busy suckling, obviously a baby born in the forest.
Huge Newtonia trees within the forest provide ample shade for everyone to enjoy at noon. On one hot day all the orphans converged under on particular tree. Unbeknownst to them there was a leopard and her two cubs resting high up in the same tree, something that was first sensed by Lima Lima whose actions alerted the Keepers to the presence of something untoward up the tree. The Keepers moved the elephants away allowing space for the leopard to continue relaxing on her branch.
Ziwa continues to enjoy the position of being the cosseted calf of big girl Murera while Sonje on the other hand is generous with her time and attention, very much the favourite of naughty boys Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha; patient and tolerant of their exuberance. Lima Lima, undoubtedly a budding leader, often tries to take the group in a different direction which obviously gains the approval of the main matriarchs Murera and Sonje. Quanza, Lima Lima and Zongoloni are a female trio, tightly bonded to one another.
Sonje’s ear has provided concern and fascination this month as it bent over flopping in half. This we have seen before with elephants, but in her case her ear sometimes rights itself and sometimes flops. It doesn’t bother her at all but does give her a strange appearance at times.
The hottest day of the month saw the orphans resort to wallowing like hippos in the beautiful crystal Umani Springs, totally submerged with just their heads above water. The Keepers were tempted to join them, but the resident crocodiles were a slight deterrent!