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.
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.
Lima Lima took over today to lead the others over to the Lucerne pellet feeding area. She then walked away before Shukuru came over to have her pellets. Shukuru is fed them separately to the others as they sometimes pick on her and try to push her away to have more pellets for themselves. Shukuru is very docile and will always back down! So Lima Lima was trying to hide in order to be able to sneak up on Shukuru when she was given her own pile of pellets, but the Keepers spotted her and shouted loudly at her. Lima Lima looked embarrassed and walked over to her favourite Keeper to be pardoned.
When all orphans walked out to the forest and were walking towards Umani Hills, Sonje and Quanza led the group from the front. At that stage it was the older girls leading everyone including the boys, but the bulls later changed direction as Jasiri and Ziwa did not want the head girls to lead them out, and they did not want to go the way they were going.
Murera found some sweet branches to feed from and Mwashoti was collecting up some acacia pods that had dropped because of the monkeys playing and eating them in the trees above.
Later every one walked to the waterhole to have their midday milk bottle and wallow in the water as well.
The elephants had their bottle feeding early as usual at six am, but then they all became very restless. They were eager to come out of their rooms to begin their day by picking up Lucerne pellets before heading out to the forest. Alamaya managed to snatch some of Shukuru’s pellets but then a Keeper shouted at him to stop bad manners. When Alamaya left, Quanza then walked over again to try and steal some of Shukuru’s pellets. She, likes the others, knows that Shukuru is a slow eater so they all try their luck in pinching some of her leftovers. All the Keepers made it clear to those disturbing her to leave her alone. As soon as they saw any of the Keepers walking towards them to tell them off, they ran away fast!
In the forest as all of the orphans were trying to select what nice vegetation to eat, Lima Lima and Ziwa walked across a line of army ants without realizing. Some of the ants started to bite their feet and trunks, making Ziwa and Lima Lima run for safety through the bushes trying to knock the ants off. Lima Lima was trumpeting vigorously trying to get them out of her trunk, and in the end they both managed and settled down to browse again.
Faraja and Ziwa walked far off into some bushes today, to a place which was too hard for some orphans like Murera, Mwashoti and Sonje to follow them, due to their bad legs. The area had steep hills and was very rocky, which is not ideal for those poor three orphans. Murera ended up just turning back to get her friend Mwashoti and lead him away from that rocky and hilly area. They walked down the hill to walk along beside the Umani Hills which had paths that were easier to walk along, without any rocks!
Later on some wild elephant friends came to interact with the orphans. Soon the trouble makers Ziwa and Jasiri tried to start a pushing game so that they would leave Sonje and Murera alone, but things got a bit rough when one of the big wild bulls came over and looked very ready for a fight. Lima Lima rumbled for Shukuru to join her as she did not want her to get knocked by the big bull. In the end the Keepers called all the orphans to come away and they walked off into the forest.
Another young bull showed up at the stockades today showing interest in our young females but Zongoloni and Quanza avoided his greetings. Lima Lima came over to move them away towards the Keepers and when the bull realised the Keepers were around he walked off into the forest.
All the orphans converged at the waterhole for a mud bath after their midday bottle feeding. Shukuru then sneaked away to have a dust bath on her own, avoiding her pushy friends. She remembered the time they were all enjoying swimming in a waterhole and then the boys came over and Ziwa and Ngasha all climbed on her back while she was inside the water. That time she shouted out and was rescued by the Keepers.
The young boys can be very naughty and those like Ziwa and Ngasha sometimes think they are big boys now and don’t have to listen to the older girls like Murera or Lima Lima. The older girls always have everyone’s best interests at heart though, caring for the other orphans and the Keepers too.
At the waterhole today it was all fun and games as the orphans wallowed and then went to the soil piles where they blew big clouds of dust on their backs to help protect them from sun. The sun has been shining very hard the past few days, and we are wondering if it is building up to rain. The albino boys Jasiri and Faraja have to be extra careful and make sure to dust themselves well. It was Jasiri today who led everyone to the waterhole to cool down in their mud bath swimming pool. Shukuru then led everyone to the dust bath where Mwashoti and Lima Lima became the dusting stars.
After taking very good dust bath, Faraja took everyone back into the shade, under some nice big trees where they could rest and browse. The young boys Alamaya with Mwashoti even fell asleep under Sonje and Murera’s bellies. Alamaya woke up with a start as he thought that everyone had moved away, but found himself under Sonje’s belly and he could not stand up. He soon settled down when he realized that all the herd will still around.
Around the Chyulu Hills some wild elephants and their babies visited the orphans where they were browsing in the bushes. They were curious and wanted to walk around with the orphans. The little babies played with Zongoloni and then walked back to join their mothers who were not willing to come to close as they were afraid of the Keepers and their human smell.
Sonje came out of her stockade early in the morning. The first thing she did was to confirm that Mwashoti had had a good night by putting her trunk over Mwashoti’s shoulder; the two elephants responded to each other with big rumbles which attracted Murera and the other boys to come and see why Sonje and Mwashoti were rumbling so much.
Faraja didn’t walk all the way up to them and just stopped by the gate entrance, then walked back to climb on the scratching wall. From there he began looking over the other orphans from the top of the wall, feeling pleased with how big he was compared to the other orphans who were now eating the Lucerne pellets. A small fight broke out amongst the babies over the pellets and Alamaya even turned on Mwashoti thinking he was taking them all and leaving him with none.
When the orphans started to walk out of the forest, Murera blocked Lima Lima from going first so that she could lead the group and set the pace at a slower one for her bad leg, rather than the others just charging ahead and leaving her at the back.
All the orphans had a very good long night’s rest. Shukuru was the leader today but she just walked so fast and did not wait for her friends because she was being followed by the naughty boys. Ziwa, Jasiri and their friend Ngasha were in a very playful mood and they all felt like play-fighting. Eventually the female elephants Zongoloni and Quanza came over and stood in the middle of them, trying to separate them so they would not fight any more.
At the waterhole the tractor came and put some more water in the trough for the orphans but also all their wild friends in the Kibwezi Forest. It is so hot at the moment and we want to make sure everyone has enough water and somewhere to wallow. Lima Lima could not wait for her mud bath time. As soon as she saw the tractor coming loaded with fresh water bowser to refill the waterholes, she went and stood right next to it. She even put her trunk right in to get fresh water and then got down on the ground to get all nice and muddy too
Our happy elephants came out very fast this morning, ready to browse out in the forest. Murera, Sonje and Lima Lima were all rumbling between each other, deciding which way the herd should go. Sonje rumbled to Murera for the whole group to stop and wait, but only Ngasha and Ziwa did not wait and they did not even stop, they just proceeded on with their patrol ahead of the girls towards the Umani Hills.
Later some buffalos invaded the bushes close to where Sonje was hiding in the shade from the hot sun. Faraja forced them to leave and walk on but none were happy about leaving the nice shade. They had to walk on to give way to the buffalos and move to a different area that was safer for all, including the Keepers. The Keepers walked along in the open glade where it was easy to see further. It was close to the water hole so Alamaya and Lima Lima decided to sneak over to have a mud bath to cool down, and soon Mwashoti and their other friends joined them.
The weather turned very hot in the afternoon around the Umani Hills, making all the babies hide their heads in the shade to keep out of the sun. Jasiri and Faraja again had to be especially careful and they can feel the heat on their bodies most of all. We moved all the orphans towards the waterhole earlier than usual to have a mud bath before their usual milk feeding time. We could see that every orphan was so happy when they reached the muddy pool, and none of them wanted to come out!
Quanza escorted Shukuru back slowly to the herd where Murera and Sonje had already taken the young boys back out towards the forest. Alamaya and Mwashoti decided to have a rest for awhile before we embarked on the long day of walking for the rest of the day. When they had finished their nap the orphans were all set and Mwashoti started the walk, leading the others along a path. He was then overtaken by Zongoloni and Faraja, who were walking along and having a playful pushing game.
As all orphans lined up to come back home, Alamaya spotted some antelopes near the roadside. He went charging up to them to keep them off the road as they all passed through to make their way home. The big boys walked along shaking their heads and apparently very happy to be returning home, knowing that it was their bottle feeding time as well.
Shukuru is slowly developing a new habit at mud bath time and that is to get there before all the others. Again this stems from the fact that the boys like Jasiri and Ziwa like to climb on her while she is trying to swim. Because she is such a docile and polite girl they know they can get away with this, but they would never try this with Quanza, Sonje or Murera! Now Shukuru makes sure she is first to the milk feeding area so she can have her milk bottle and go straight to the mud wallow to swim there before any of the bulls arrive. She then makes her way to the dust bath and leaves there again before the naughty boys can come. This way she mostly manages to avoid them every time at mud bath time.
We can see that Sonje and Lima Lima remain to be her favourites, and out in the forest she stays close to them. She stays close to them most of the time, and it is only during mud bath time that she goes ahead to avoid the naughty boys from climbing on her back.
Sonje walked out today showing a little more of an exaggerated limp in her leg. She tried to walk out but the joint remained stiff. Sonje is normally very playful in the morning and loves scratching on the wall in the compound, but today she was not very happy because of her stiff joint. She managed to walk through the forest in the morning, and her leg must have warmed up because when it came to mud bath time she came running in with a big smile on her face and was very playful again. She seemed to be much better and the bad leg just needed some time to loosen up. Sometimes the same thing can happen to Murera, and it is just because of their bad leg injuries from when they were rescued that they can sometimes seize up.
Jasiri came later for the bottle with Ziwa but when Ziwa arrived he really made big scream and loud rumbling as he was reaching to his bottles may he missed it very much and was thankful to get his shares. After finishing his bottle immediately Faraja picked him with Ngasha for the normal fighting play before even going for wallowing they both did not wallow on mud any more today but just went to dust bath with Shukuru later coming to join them but she arrived and waited for the boys to leave the dust bath then she could take her own time separate from the pushing boys.
At the midday bottle feeding time, all the elephants came running just like Lima Lima always does for her bottle, no matter the time of day. Today Shukuru won the race to the bottles and as her usual habit now, she rushed on her own to the mud bath before the others could get there too.
After the milk dependent orphans had finished their milk bottles, some buffalos arrived who looked very thirsty and they wanted to go to the waterhole to cool their hot bodies. Alamaya and Zongoloni tried to scare them away as they were trying to walk along the same pathway, and Zongoloni was waiting for Faraja and Lima Lima. The buffalos tried to follow them along the pathway and Alamaya got scared of them but Zongoloni escorted him and soon they were all passed the buffalos.
The orphans later walked to the water pipelines and found some water spilling out which Shukuru and Mwashoti enjoyed drinking from.
The morning was lovely with the babies ready to go out and browse. Shukuru remained indoors within the gate entrance waiting to be given some pellets separately from the greedy Lima Lima who might try to grab some of her share as she is a slow eater. Shukuru eventually walked out with the others and they all headed towards the Kenze Hills to find some nice green branches and acacia pods that can still be found in that area.
Murera walked along next to Sonje who had Mwashoti who stayed beside her, enjoying the company of the big girls. He watched Ziwa from afar, not wanting to get him to get close otherwise Ziwa might bully him.
Some female elephants with young babies approached the waterhole when the orphans were there. Quanza and Zongoloni spotted the little babies with their mothers drinking. Quanza tried to get close to one of the babies who then started blowing little trumpets as it was afraid to be too far from its mother with Quanza and Zongoloni. Quanza and Zonogloni then moved away and after a while the wild herd left.
So many wild animals visited the orphans at the stockades last night, starting with some loud whooping hyenas which disturbed the Keepers in their sleep and also Mwashoti and Alamaya. When the Keepers came out of their night tents with torches in their hands all the orphans were very happy to see them as they knew their lights would scare the hyenas away and they would be able to get some sleep.
The next morning Zongoloni and Quanza were ready to get to the water springs for a new day but they found some strange wild animal smells all around, some of which were the hyenas from last night. They raised their trunks in the air and we could see them smelling all around, so they waited for the big girls to come and join them. Mwashoti did not even follow directly behind Murera either but stayed to wait for the Keepers who he feels very safe with.
In the afternoon all the orphans made their way back to the waterhole to enjoy a midday mud bath with Shukuru leading the entire herd. Shukuru sneaked out of the thickest bushes when she felt too hot and could not wait any longer for anyone to lead her. When she got there she got in the water and submerged her whole body, with only her trunk raised out of the water. Shukuru did her usual thing and had a bath before anyone else could arrive, and left before the boys could come and disturb her.
As soon as she left, Quanza and Jasiri came running in to cool down in the water too. They began by splashing their chest and feet and soon all the orphans had disappeared beneath the surface of the water and the Keepers could only see waves of water. They were delighted to see the orphans so happy and clapped their hands to cheer them on. Lima Lima and Sonje remained the most steadfast swimmers of all the babies. Shukuru remained the only lonely swimmer who doesn’t have any friends in the mud bath as she wants to avoid all the boisterous behavior.
The orphans were surprised today by the morning rain showers in the early morning immediately after bottle feeding. Lima Lima and Sonje came out first, followed by Alamaya who just walked instead of running like they usually do. Shukuru ate alone away from the others whilst Sonje and Quanza rubbed their trunks in morning greeting. Murera scratched her bottom on the wall and Mwashoti enjoying standing next to her, safe in the knowledge that no one would bully him whilst he was next to one of the matriarchs.
The weather was not still good for swimming later as it was very cold and cloudy. Only Shukuru later walked to the dust bath and then went to the waterhole to drink some water. The orphans then went to the forest to browse quietly in the shade and waited for the Keepers to finish their lunch before they continued their daily walk.
The elephants came out this morning to the small dust bath around the stockades. They had a lot of fun blowing dust and some of the boys were in a very playful mood. They were pushing and climbing on their friends, thankfully leaving Shukuru alone. All four bulls however were on top of Sonje who was on the ground and enjoying their games. Murera, Mwashoti and Shukuru both stayed away from the boys who were in a very playful mood.
Lima Lima went to see Alamaya who had been pushed over by Faraja. Zongoloni went to see what happened to their friend too, but it was actually Alamaya who was the one that had been misbehaving with the older boys. Sometimes he does not show enough respect to the older boys because he is used to Zongoloni and Quanza, and now and then he forgets to respect the older boys. In the end Faraja taught him a lesson and pushed him over.
Alamaya and Mwashoti walked out for a new day after all the other orphans had already left because they were the last babies to finish feeding. Shukuru had taken up position next to her own pile of pellets behind the gate entrance. At the main feeding area, Murera chased the others away who were getting too over excited and boisterous. They were all eating so fast! Lima Lima the first victim to be chased by Murera, and then Quanza, making all the other babies quite fearful and slow down. This was how Alamaya and Mwashoti ended up being the last in the stockades as all the others had decided to leave for the forest and find branches to browse on. Murera realized she was left alone with the young boys and when they were done she led them both out to the hills to browse as well.
It was very surprising to see Sonje’s old boyfriend Osama show up again at the dust bath area today. He was very humble and friendly and was not aggressive to the Keepers at all. He slowly walked along the bushes trying to follow the Sonje’s trail. When he reached her he rumbled so loudly it made everyone stop and look around. Murera was close to Sonje but she walked away as she did not want to be around Osama.
When all the orphans made their way back to the stockades in the evening for the night, many wild elephants came along behind the fence looking at the orphans from the outside. As most of them were bulls and Osama was there too raising his trunk, we thought they were there to find Sonje.
The cloudy morning again disrupted the playful day for the orphans despite coming out in a very jovial mood.
At the mud bath all the milk dependent babies came for their bottles with Lima Lima running in so fast; no one could keep up with the speed she was running at! Alamaya was behind her followed by Zongoloni but all the others were left just walking slowly behind. After she had finished her bottle she tried to have another but all the Keepers were very alert and knew she had had her share, so they denied her having another.
It was very cloudy again today so the orphans were not as energetic or playful as they usually are in the morning. We had some light rain showers and all the orphans found it a bit cold. Murera and Mwashoti seemed the most affected babies as they walked out and had very stiff legs because of the cold weather. Murera came out of her room slowly Mwashoti followed slowly behind her to walk into the forest for the morning browsing.
Alamaya and Ziwa started a play-fight in the bushes to warm up their cold bodies. Alamaya was defeated by Ziwa because of his strong tusks but Alamaya showed Ziwa that he was also very strong too and should not be underestimated.
At the waterhole none of the orphans were interested in wallowing since it was still very chilly and they only greedily downed their milk bottles before walking back into the forest and waiting for their Keepers.
Playful Sonje and Quanza took everyone by surprise when Quanza grabbed Sonje’s tail and Sonje in turn grabbed her tail and they were there connected as one walking round and round the loading wall. The others could not be bothered to wait for them to finish with their childish antics and they all walked out to the forest.
The older boys were in a fighting mood and they all joined forces to begin their pushing and wrestling games out in the forest. Ngasha fell down at one stage as he was backing away from his opponent Ziwa, and did not see the posts behind him so he tripped over, just as Ziwa pushed him while he was off balance. He got his revenge on Ziwa however when Jasiri came over to help him get up and then they ganged up against Ziwa together.
When it was time to return home, all the elephants made their way into their rooms and we watched as Zongoloni, Jasiri and Mwashoti picked up their bottles with ease; in two minutes they had finished their bottles and all the Keepers had to do was pick up their empty bottles.
It was very interesting morning as all the orphans were in a very playful mood. Shukuru and Lima Lima had a small pushing game as Lima Lima was trying to deny her entry to her pellets corner. When Shukuru went to her normal special place to start eating her pellets, Lima Lima was there and was trying to grab some before going to join her friends outside. The Keepers spotted her and shouted at her, and Lima Lima felt embarrassed and just walked away.
Murera led some babies to the scratching wall and Sonje just sat on her bottom and scratched and posed in very funny positions which made the Keepers laugh. Soon Mwashoti walked up to her as he wanted to go to Murera and walk out to the forest to browse.
At the midday bottle feeding time the weather was very cloudy and made it impossible to play in the mud bath. The orphans just had some water then went to the dust bath where Sonje again became a posing star. Mwashoti and Alamaya chose to take a nap round where Sonje was lying, so they would be protected from the older bully boys.
Many wild elephants friends showed up behind the stockade area and we thought that perhaps Osama had come to see Sonje again. The Keepers tried to peer through the bushes to see if they knew the wild elephants, and Lima Lima too was very helpful too and she tried to investigate to see who was there. Later Ziwa joined the wild friends and started to play-fight them, blocking them from coming close to the females in the herd.
As we continued walking along a pathway in the forest, leading to a water spring, a tortoise heard the orphans walking and stopped to hide its head in its shell. Zongoloni, who was walking in front, thought it was just normal rock, she stepped on the side of it which turned it upside down and that was the moment the Keepers saw it as well. They quickly righted the tortoise and set it on its way and it continued on with its journey into the bushes.
Along the Chyulu hills where Murera and Alamaya had stopped to browse alone behind their friends, some klipspringers jumped along the rocks to run away from the elephant orphans.
Today Mwashoti was very badly behaved which was such a surprise as we did not expect it from this little boy. Lima Lima was busy eating some Lucerne pellets and then she decided to walk away, passing next to where Mwashoti was eating. He thought Lima Lima was trying to get some of his pellets and he pushed her away and then got a fright from the Keeper who was behind him and also telling Lima Lima to keep moving, and he knocked him with his trunk. He did not do it intentionally but he felt very bad and ran straight away to Sonje because he was so sorry about what he had done. Then he slowly walked towards the Keepers as if to apologise for being so greedy as well.
Shukuru later took the lead and went out with Ziwa to the bushes, leaving Sonje at the stockade dust bath point with Faraja and Quanza still waiting to scratch on the post that was on the pathway.
The rain started again just slightly before the midday bottle feeding and the Keepers had to go for their rain coats and umbrellas. When Alamaya and Mwashoti saw Keepers with their umbrellas, they too tried to join the Keepers underneath to protect them from rain as well!
The babies were very quiet and peaceful this morning when they came out of their rooms. Zongoloni and Quanza headed to the scratching wall where Mwashoti joined them too. Sonje just scratched her bottom a little bit then went to dust bath to roll on the soil, as Shukuru led the way out to thr bush to browse.
Murera led Mwashoti and Ziwa high up into the hills until she found it was too steep and she could not go any further.
Later some baboons came running out of the bushes towards the orphans which gave them a fright and Lima Lima followed behind Shukuru as they ran away.
All the elephants had very good night last night and very early in the morning, before the Keepers even had their bottles ready, they were awake and very restless and eager to come out of their rooms. When the Keepers passed by the Sonje and Murera’s stockades with the bottles, Zongoloni became so hyper and pushed on the posts of her wall because she could not wait and was so excited for her bottle.
At the dust bath which is just by the stockade gate, Sonje went and sat down on her bottom for a scratch with her tail in the air. She really enjoyed that scratching session and when she was done Lima Lima and then Faraja had a turn too.
Jasiri and Ngasha, as usual for these boisterous bulls, started a pushing game, but then it turned into a proper fight. It all started when they wanted to go in different directions. Ngasha wanted his own way and Jasiri wanted to go another. Ngasha pushed Jasiri and touched his tail and that was when the fighting began and it got very rough. In the end the big girls Sonje and Zongoloni and even Quanza came over to separate them by standing in between them to stop fighting.
The orphans made their way out of the stockades today to begin their new day. Jasiri was holding some hay with his trunk as he walked out, and Faraja and Ziwa were running behind to try and snatch it from him. Lima Lima joined the running boys and tried to get some of the hay too, but Jasiri saw them all coming and started running faster too, and ended up dropping most of the hay in his effort to escape. This made it hard for any of the elephants to pick it up from the ground, so in the end none of them had any.
At the bottle feeding place all the babies came and Sonje walked them over to one of the water pools where they drank clean water and then they walked over to the mud bath. Murera and Sonje, led them there, but when the orphans got there they just splashed parts of the bodies and bellies then all left again.
After the Keepers had their lunch they found the boys with the light skin, Faraja and Jasiri, already waiting inside the forest under the shades, because the sun was beginning to get hot forcing them to spend more time in the shade.
Lima Lima took over leading from Zongoloni and Quanza and led the orphans to the gate following the pellets being pushed by a Keeper in a wheelbarrow to where he was going to put them on the ground. Ziwa turned to push Ngasha away to give him more space to eat but Ngasha pushed back and a little pushing game started between the two boys, until Ziwa fell down on his bottom.
Later the Keepers were leading the orphans towards the Umani Hills and while on the way some wild elephants began trumpeting to let them know they were close by. When Sonje heard the rumblings and trumpets she turned around looking to locate where the noise was coming from so she could go and meet with them. It was not wild elephant bulls however, but some females with their young calves.
Close to the midday milk feeding time it was hard for Murera and Mwashoti to walk quickly down the hill to reach the feeding area as it was quite steep, so in the end the Keepers drove the bottles up the hill to them, where the orphans were enjoying browsing on the soft vegetation around them.
Sonje was being so funny in the morning as she showed off her yoga-playing styles in the dust bath area of the stockades. She was having so much fun that the others all joined her. First Mwashoti and then all other boys came over but she turned them away to accommodate Alamaya and Lima Lima with Zongoloni on top of the pile. Shukuru was also playing in the dust but when Ngasha turned his bottom against her as if to slide on her, Shukuru had to leave because she did not allow the big boys like Ngasha and Jasiri to climb on her back because they are heavy boys.
Mwashoti had to rumble to call the big girls to help him as Ziwa was following him in the bushes and touching his tail. Mwashoti was not happy about this this and he rumbled very loudly for Murera to come and help. Murera came but so did all the other females including Sonje, Zongoloni and Quanza. They all came to see why Mwashoti was rumbling for help. When they found Ziwa close to him they knew why he was calling for help and they pushed Ziwa away. Sonje and Murera left Lima Lima and Zongoloni in charge and walked with Mwashoti slowly back to the herd who were waiting by the water springs.