Keepers' Diaries, October 2018

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

This was one of those months where our Umani Stockades really came into its own and we were greatly appreciative for having built it four years ago in 2014. We often comment on how suitable Umani is for Murera, Sonje and Mwashoti with their compromised legs, reducing their browsing distances due to the abundance of vegetation. For Jasiri and Faraja, our two albino boys, the generous shade canopy certainly helps them during the scorching hot conditions, and this month has seen the temperature rise just before the rains break. 

On the very hot days this month the orphans relished the cooling mud baths as well, and there are plenty of those at Umani. One day Shukuru got so hot she took herself off to the mud bath before the midday feeding time, and submerged herself fully in the water, so the Keepers could only see her trunk sticking out like a snorkel. 

Umani has done wonders for our little Shukuru, who for so long was plagued by illness. She is at last starting to put on condition and beginning to resemble a nine year old elephant. She remains cautious with herself, and has developed a new habit of arriving first for her milk bottle, and then going for a mud bath before any of the others arrive, that way avoiding their boisterous mud bath antics. Just as the crazy crowd arrive, she finishes off there and goes to the dust bath to dry herself down and dowse herself with a coating of protective soil, and completes the process before any of the rowdy boys can come along and wreak havoc upon her peaceful baths. She knows she is not strong enough yet to contend with their exuberant play and have them climbing all over her, so she makes sure to complete her time before Jasiri, Faraja, Ngasha and Ziwa even arrive.

Shukuru also has a special feeding place in the stockades for her morning Lucerne pellets. She is such a docile and polite girl that if any try to take Lucerne pellets from her she will most likely give in; additionally she is also a much slower eater than the others. For this reason the Keepers feed her separately, so greedy ones like Lima Lima cannot disturb her. This does not stop Lima Lima from trying, and she is often caught before the act and shouted at by the Keepers before she can steal any of Shukuru’s, much to her embarrassment! Despite her greedy habits, Lima Lima and Sonje as well are particularly close friends of Shukuru’s, and look after her at all times around the others.

Alamaya continues to try and test the boundaries with the older boys. One day Zonogloni went to investigate why he had been pushed over by Faraja, but found that it had been Alamaya who was misbehaving and trying to push the older bull around, until he was taught a lesson and given some discipline. Zongoloni and Quanza are very forgiving of the little calf and playfully accept his pushing games, but he is not quite so lucky with the older bulls. Mwashoti is still a polite young bull and Murera’s favourite, although sometimes he can get carried away at feeding times, and once this month accidentally knocked one of his Keepers with his trunk. He was very apologetic, cautiously approaching the Keeper after as if to say sorry. He is still a good little bull and generally not a trouble maker at all. 

The females have their work cut out for them where the older bulls are concerned and often either Sonje, Zongoloni and Quanza, or even all three, would have to separate them by standing in between them to stop their bickering. This is very much normal for bulls their age, and is one of the reasons it is important to have older matriarchs in the herd that they will listen to - most of the time!

October 2018 day to day

01 Oct

A very jovial Shukuru stepped out of her stockade this morning in a very playful mood. She went to have some Lucerne pellets, grabbing some to feed on, before going to scratch her body on a nearby tree. She then walked back to look for Alamaya to join her in the forest, leaving the other orphans behind just watching as she made her way out with Alamaya. 

Faraja and Mwashoti later followed Shukuru to the forest, but Mwashoti did not behave well when he arrived close to Shukuru and grabbed some branches that Shukuru was picking to eat. This was bad behaviour that we did not expect of Mwashoti, as he is usually a good boy and not a trouble maker. He seemed to be a bit spoilt by the older girls and is rarely disciplined because he is Murera’s favourite little boy.

Mwashoti browsing near the mudbath

Shukuru dustbathing

Alamaya after a mudbath