Keepers' Diaries, October 2016

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Lima Lima continues to entertain her Keepers with her greedy behaviour, so they have decided to feed her last in order not to disrupt the feeding of the others whilst they are taking their milk. In this respect she is being treated as though she were still a Nursery baby when in fact she is just a very greedy girl! Sometimes, in the mornings, she pushes against her Stockade Gate, impatiently demanding her milk, and in the process making such a racket that the Keepers have to relent and feed her first so that everyone can get on with their morning duties!

Lima Lima continues to entertain her Keepers with her greedy behaviour, so they have decided to feed her last in order not to disrupt the feeding of the others whilst they are taking their milk. In this respect she is being treated as though she were still a Nursery baby when in fact she is just a very greedy girl! Sometimes, in the mornings, she pushes against her Stockade Gate, impatiently demanding her milk, and in the process making such a racket that the Keepers have to relent and feed her first so that everyone can get on with their morning duties!

Due to the prolonged drought this season, we are desperately waiting for the onset of the November rains and in the meantime the orphans have been enjoying lengthy mud baths, covering every inch of their bodies with a protective layer of mud against the harsh sun. One day the Keepers were amused to see Jasiri flapping his big ears as he bounced around in the waterhole in a poor attempt to mimic Lima Lima and Sonje!

The orphans have been going on long walks towards the Chyulu Hills foraging for fresh vegetation further afield, although the fresh water of the Umani Springs is an ongoing attraction that makes the Kibwezi forest such an appealing oasis compared to arid Tsavo in these dry months. For that reason there have been numerous wild elephant herds converging on the Umani Springs for the fresh water and shade of the forest trees. As usual, Orphan Matriarchs Murera and Sonje are apprehensive about close interaction with the wild herds, anxious to keep their little herd intact. Lima Lima and Zongoloni tend to approach the wild herds the most, even grown wild bulls, but especially when there is a baby in the mix! Quanza is adept at finding fresh water to drink, often leading the orphans to leaks in the water pipeline. Alamaya is still very close to his friend Lima Lima and one day, when he got left behind in the compound, sounded the alarm as the Keepers were busy doing a head count! Instantly all the orphans ran to meet and console him. At times Faraja resorts to behaving like a young baby again, only walking with his Keepers in front of him out in the bush.

Sometimes feuds ensue over the tastiest morsels of vegetation out in the bush, acacia bark being much sort after. Zongoloni is very apt at sourcing this and often finds herself having to protect her prize! Recently, during the height of the dry season, we have been feeding the orphans nutritious lucerne pellets which are greatly relished. Ziwa usually tries to be first out of his Stockade in the morning in order to get more than his fair share and chases away any bushbucks who have sneaked in ahead of the orphans! One day some Guinea fowls came to the area where the elephants enjoy their supplements and although they could have fed peacefully together, Ziwa had other ideas, trumpeting loudly so that the birds took to the trees.

One day a fight broke out between Sonje and Ziwa when she tried to discipline him for pushing little Mwashoti over whom she is very protective. Mwashoti is often allowed the privilege of being able to lead the orphans on their daily walks despite his compromised foot, Murera and Sonje being slower due to their compromised legs. One day when the older girls were distracted, jealous Ngasha misbehaved by trying to remove some grass from Alamaya’s mouth, there being not much that little Alamaya could do about it, as Ngasha is bigger him. Ngasha and Faraja, who are evenly matched in size, frequently engage one another in strength testing tussles, an all important practice for young bulls.

October 2016 day to day

01 Oct

Sonje began her day by looking after the babies. She invited them to play with her as she lay on the ground scratching her bottom. Both Alamaya and Mwashoti were very happy to join her and had a lovely time playing with them. Murera in the meantime stood on the sidelines waiting to see if the two little boys would follow her. However all her waiting was in vain as Sonje had their undivided attention. A little while later Lima Lima came up to Alamaya, who went up to her and put his trunk to her mouth whispering something to his friend. After the two communicated for a while the babies were suddenly scared by some buffaloes that crossed their path. As the orphans were running out of the way, Alamaya was separated from the group and no one knew where he was. The keepers called him and heard him trumpeting some distance away. Lima Lima and Zongoloni took the initiative to go and get him and reunite him with the rest of the group. When he returned he was greeting with lots of trumpeting and rumbling by the rest of the group.

Playful orphans rubbing their bottoms

Alamaya kissing Limalima's ears

Orphans walking away from the waterhole

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