Keepers' Diaries, October 2020

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

The Umani orphans have been very much preoccupied with finding vegetation during the dry season, and while Kibwezi forest is more favourable than many places this year it did become very dry, and because of that our orphans had to concentrate more on feeding.  Thankfully by months end a shower passed through the area and almost overnight it sprung into life with fresh shoots appearing everywhere. The Kibwezi Forest still provides a safe haven of food and water for a multitude of wildlife who have gravitated towards the forest especially due to the many fires that have ravaged the Chyulu Hills National Park this season.  There have been many wild elephants about, but also the buffalo and antelope numbers have increased dramatically.  

01 October 2020

The orphans walked towards the Kenze Hills this morning and found many buffaloes grazing in the same area. The Keepers wanted to keep the orphans safe, especially Luggard who was with Murera, and guided these two away from the buffalo herd.

Luckily Shukuru had left a little earlier than the rest of the orphans, so she managed to cross over into the Hills before the buffaloes got there. Just as the Keepers managed to usher all the orphans away from the buffaloes, they saw Alamaya emerge from the bushes and walk right past the buffalo herd. The Keepers were surprised to see how comfortable Alamaya was walking past the buffaloes without any fear. Alamaya definitely showcased his adventurous streak today and then walked right up to his friend Mwashoti to say hello.

The orphans continued to browse away from the buffalo herd and as soon as the Keepers noticed the herd had moved on in the opposite direction from where the elephant orphans were, they decided it was okay for the orphans to crossover to the foot of Kenze Hill. In fact, with all the loud trumpeting, the buffalo herd retreated further into the forest anyway.

02 October 2020

The orphans were busy feeding on their Lucerne this morning when the independent group known as the night-clubbers joined them at the stockades.

Alamaya was one of the first to arrive. He walked up to Sonje who was very happy to see him and moved onto where Mwashoti was enjoying his Lucerne, but the young boy was too engrossed in his Lucerne to even look up. Alamaya then walked up to Lima Lima who was with the Keepers. With a big trumpet Alamaya grabbed one of the Lucerne bales and ran off with it; the Keepers thought of chasing after him but changed their minds when they saw that Alamaya was running towards his friends, looking to share the Lucerne with them. Whilst Ziwa, Jasiri and Alamaya enjoyed the Lucerne, Ngasha decided to visit the water trough first. He stayed there for quite a while, filling himself up on the cool fresh water.  

As the orphans ventured out to the browsing fields, Enkesha made sure she ran up to where her friend Zongoloni was. Zongoloni was equally glad to see her little friend and gave her a low welcoming rumble. This made Enkesha very happy, as we are sure she has missed the older girls’ company. Faraja made his way back to the Chyulu Hills in search for green forage. We also spotted the SWT helicopter doing its daily aerial surveillance patrol.

03 October 2020

This morning, the night-clubbers arrived with a new friend, a wild bull. Ziwa, Jasiri, Faraja and Ngasha walked in with their friend to join the stockade orphans at the Lucerne feeding area.

As soon as the older girls sighted the big bull, they decided to make a head start with Luggard out to the forest, wanting to avoid any unwanted trouble from the newcomer. Shukuru, Sonje and Murera walked ahead, leaving Mwashoti to interact with the wild bull. Mwashoti was curious about the visitor so as soon as the rest of the orphans were ready to move out to the forest, Mwashoti made sure he stayed close the wild bull.  

Out in the forest, the orphans browsed close to the Keepers, unsure of the new comers’ temperament. The wild bull remained with the Umani herd for most of the day, browsing at a distance, seeming unsure of what to make of the humans who were with the elephants. At one point, he did move a little closer to the Keepers but it seems the human scent felt unfamiliar so he decided to make his way back to the forest, much to Murera, Shukuru and Luggard’s relief. The orphans seemed a bit more relaxed after this and spread out further to forage.

04 October 2020

As soon as the orphans finished their Lucerne this morning, everyone made their way to the water springs area. A little while later, the Keepers heard some very loud trumpeting. It was Alamaya and Faraja, making their way through the forest to find their friends who were browsing peacefully.

The big boys came crashing through the bushes, eager to meet up with Murera and Sonje who were looking after Luggard. Shukuru was nearby, browsing alongside Quanza and Enkesha. At the water springs two crocodiles were basking in the sun, but when the heard the heavy footsteps of the two big boys running towards the springs, they jumped back into the water and disappeared. Mwashoti was browsing a little further away and had no idea that the herd had been joined by Alamaya and Faraja, so when he heard all the running and trumpeting, he got scared and ran towards the Keepers for safety.

As the day wore on it got a lot hotter. It was a relief for the orphans to get a chance to cool off in the mud bath. Murera handed over the duty of looking after Luggard to Sonje, who immediately ushered Luggard to the side of the mud bath so as to avoid the more boisterous orphans. Everyone took turns wallowing and once done, made their way slowly to the soil mounds where they stayed to enjoy a dust bath for quite a while. Today Shukuru and Enkesha teamed up to lead the orphans to their afternoon browsing area, and the other orphans were happy to comply and stayed there until evening when it was time to return to the stockades.

05 October 2020

Ever since Alamaya joined the night-clubbers, we have noticed that he has made many wild friends, and if not every day, then every few days Alamaya will visit the Umani herd with at least one new wild friend.

With very little rain around the Chyulu area still and the recent wild fires, a lot of the wildlife is flocking to the Umani area that has become a mini haven where animals know they will find fresh water to drink and plenty of browse. Today the Keepers and Umani herd spotted a few wild bulls with Alamaya. Not wanting Murera, Shukuru and Luggard to panic, a few of the Keepers decided to break away from the main herd and move away with the three orphans so that they could browse peacefully at a safer distance from the wild bulls.  

They big wild bulls presented no problem at all. They just watched the Keepers from a distance, very calm and staying close to the springs. Alamaya moved back and forth between the herd and his wild friends. Later on at the soil mounds Shukuru displayed some rather fun moves that had the Keepers smiling and once done the orphans retreated to the forest where it was cooler.

06 October 2020

At midday it was Sonje’s turn to show off some of her mud bathing moves. She waded right to the middle of the mud bath where it is deeper and the mud is stickier and splashed and wallowed for quite a while. The Keepers admired her skills especially when she was completely submerged in the mud and still managed to get out without any assistance.

In the afternoon, once everyone was done with their dust bath, Mwashoti and Sonje moved around the bushes in search of water, hoping to find a waterhole that might have been dug up by wild elephants; instead Mwashoti found a broken water pipe, where he and Sonje had a long drink of cool refreshing water.

With the dry season in full swing browse has been sparse in the Kibwezi and Chyulu areas, but when the orphans were making their way home this evening, as they walked through the forest they came across some fresh green foliage. Eager to have their fill, the herd stopped for a while. Lima Lima and Murera also wanted to show their younger wards Enkesha and Luggard where to find the best greens.

07 October 2020

The Keepers found Alamaya in the Chyulu Hills on his own today, searching for fresh browse. Enkesha thought that since Alamaya spent a lot of time out in the wild, following him might lead her to discovering new browsing areas, but instead she just ended up walking long distances with him, with not much luck in finding new browse.  

When the orphans went to the soil mounds today, after a lengthy dusting session Ngasha lay down to take a nap. It seemed he too was tired from all the walking in search of fresh browse. Sonje decided to join Ngasha on the soil pile but not with the intention of taking a nap, but rather to cover herself in the soil. Sonje blew big dust clouds in the air and threw soil on her back and all over her body so as to protect herself from flies and other insects.

Shukuru and Faraja walked away from the dust bath to join the Keepers and then stop at the waterhole to drink water before making their way slowly to the stockades. Lima Lima and Luggard also joined Shukuru.  

08 October 2020

The night-clubbers, as we call the partially-independent orphans, had not been to visit the Umani herd for the past two days, except for Alamaya, so when five of them arrived today everyone was happy to see them, but they did not stay long.

Jasiri browsed with the orphans but seemed in a hurry to join his wild friends for more adventures. He kept rumbling and looking towards the forest. After a while, he broke away from the Umani herd and started to walk towards where we believe he could hear his wild friends. Shukuru accompanied him half way but then turned back and walked towards Enkesha. As soon as she got to Enkesha, Shukuru gave the little girl an affectionate trunk hug. This tender moment was soon interrupted by a bushbuck jumping out of the bushes, startling both the girls. Enkesha quickly walked to the Keepers where they were having their lunch, under a tree.

This evening, it was Shukuru who lead the orphans back to the stockades. Murera, Lima Lima and Luggard had already made a head start and as soon as Lima Lima got close to the gates, she made a dash for her bottle. The Keepers had to ask her to wait until all her friends got there so that all the orphans could enjoy their bottles at the same time.

09 October 2020

It turned to be another hot day today and Alamaya, who was visiting again, went straight to the waterhole to cool off, he enjoyed a long drink of water and then splashed his body with the water. He then proceeded to walk along the waterhole, cooling his feet.  

On the other side of the waterhole both Mwashoti and Enkesha were busy foraging. Enkesha usually prefers the company of the older girls, but today perhaps she thought she might make friends with the rather boisterous Mwashoti. Their browsing did not last very long as Mwashoti started his pushing games with Alamaya. Enkesha made a quick exit and joined Murera.   

Later in the afternoon Shukuru was busy pulling down acacia branches and stripping bark off the acacia trees, when a bushbuck jumped out of the bushes, startling her. Shukuru trumpeted loudly and spread her ears to appear larger and to scare off the bushbuck. The bushbuck, just as startled, ran off as fast as it could.

10 October 2020

A beautiful crowned eagle was seen circling the Chyulus this morning.  

As the orphans settled under a tree to take refuge from heat, the crowned eagle we had spotted earlier landed on top of the tree. This caused a little bit of panic amongst the orphans as they heard the movement in the tree above them but couldn’t see what it was. The orphans quickly dispersed from this “unseen” danger.  

Enkesha moved around the bushes in search of green grass; it has been so dry for the past few months, finding fresh foliage can be difficult, but Enkesha has learnt well and always manages to find greens. She came upon an acacia tree and spent the afternoon enjoying the green leaves and taking shelter from the heat too, under the tree.

Luggard and Murera also moved through the bushes in search of their favourite greens. Murera found fresh vegetation for her boy Luggard, and made sure to keep Luggard close to her.

11 October 2020

Today the mud bath was a spectacular sight with all the orphans in the mud bath splashing and wallowing. Enkesha waded so deep in the mud that only the top of her head was visible. Murera was nearby to keep an eye on her, whilst Luggard also partook in some wallowing under the watchful eye of his surrogate guardian Lima Lima.  

The orphans emerged from the mud bath all covered in mud and proceeded to the mounds of soil where they all rolled and blew dust clouds in the air. It was a lovely sight for the Keepers, to see all their babies having so much fun. By mid-afternoon Shukuru in particular started to feel the intensity of the heat and so decided to rest under the shade of some trees. After a while Quanza joined and convinced Shukuru to accompany her to browse on the Umani Hills.  

When it was time to go home, Zongoloni, Ziwa and Faraja joined them at the stockades. As night fell, they didn’t leave, and instead slept just outside the stockades. The next morning Zongoloni and Faraja were waiting for the dependent Umani herd to exit their quarters and joined them during their Lucerne feed.

12 October 2020

Faraja was up early and ready when the Keepers opened the gates to the stockade compound this morning, he waited in the compound for his friends to exit their quarters. He was particularly excited to see Mwashoti and wanted to play with him but when Mwashoti saw Faraja approaching him, he was a bit hesitant. He remembered how once during some harmless playfulness, Faraja almost poked him in the eye with one of his tusks by mistake. 

Lima Lima, our greedy orphan who is always thinking of her stomach, was the first one at the Lucerne feeding corner. She grabbed as much Lucerne as she could before the others arrived. The orphans then made their way towards the Umani Hills where they continued to browse until noon when it was time for their bottle feed. Just as the orphans were settling into their mud bath, they saw Faraja approaching them with a very big wild bull. This surprised the orphans and made them feel a bit uneasy as they had never seen a bull this big. Shukuru made her way to the soil piles to get away from the big bull, but the big bull was very curious of Shukuru and followed her. Faraja joined the orphans in the mud bath and when the wild bull saw Shukuru was uncomfortable, he too joined the others at the mud bath, splashing water and mud on his back.  

Lima Lima approached the big bull in an effort to make friends, but the big bull let out a low rumble and Lima Lima took this as a sign that perhaps he did not want to make friends. She quickly moved away and joined the Keepers who were standing close to where Murera and Luggard were browsing. Murera decided it would be safer to keep Luggard away from the mud bath and the big bull. The rest of the day was quite uneventful.

13 October 2020

Today Alamaya joined the Umani herd and brought some friends along with him too. He tried to approach Shukuru with his friends but Shukuru went out of her way to avoid them. Alamaya was being persistent, so when Sonje noticed this, she walked over to put an end to Alamaya’s advances and directed him away from Shukuru and took him to browse in a different area. 

After awhile Zongoloni appeared from the bushes, she looked around and saw Enkesha and walked up to her little friend to greet her. Both were quite happy to see each other and moved away to browse on their own. At the water hole, Murera gave temporary custody of Luggard to Lima Lima whilst she took a long drink of water. Soon it was time to move and the Keepers called all the orphans together to carry on with their day of browsing as they were scattered all around; Murera and Sonje took the lead and they all spent the rest of the afternoon browsing near the foothills of Umani.

14 October 2020

Enkesha didn’t wait for the rest of the herd to get to the water trough. The little girl was so thirsty that she made her own way there. After the rest of the herd caught up with her they all moved to browse along the Chyulu Hills. The orphans were happy to find a few nice shrubs and roots which they feasted on. Mwashoti was moving very slowly and Quanza was a little impatient, so she left him browsing by himself. Quanza caught up with Enkesha instead who had discovered a little green patch close to a stream. Mwashoti decided to pick up the pace a bit and he too caught up with Enkesha and Quanza, as did the rest of the herd and they continued to browse in the hills for the rest of the afternoon.

Zongoloni and Ziwa were already on the hills and welcomed their old friends to browse together. When it was time to go home, the Umani orphans came across a herd of female elephants with their babies who were in their path. Lima Lima pleaded with them to pass and eventually the matriarch of the wild herd allowed the stockade babies to pass with the Keepers without incident.  

15 October 2020

It was a wonderful start to the day with all the orphans finishing their milk bottles.  

As always Murera was the first at Luggard’s door to check on him. After confirming that he had a good night, Murera rumbled to Sonje and they all proceeded towards the loading ramp to have a good scratch, where Enkesha was already scratching her bottom. After a few minutes Sonje moved to the Lucerne feeding area, taking Luggard with her, where they found the night-clubbers had already stolen a few bales of Lucerne and carried them off. The Keepers were busy putting out new Lucerne bales for the stockade-dependent orphans.

Enkesha, who likes to lead the orphans out to new browsing areas, lead Quanza towards the Umani Springs. The older girl was hesitant as was Lima Lima, and as they approached the water they caught a scent and backed off. On closer inspection they saw two crocodiles basking in the sun. Lima Lima was quick to walk back to warn her beloved Keepers not to move forward but in all the commotion, the crocodiles got spooked and jumped back into the water anyway. When the Keepers finally got close to the Springs they could see the tops of the crocodiles’ heads. Once again, Lima Lima has proved to be the Keepers “keeper”.  

16 October 2020

By midday the temperature was rising and a lot of the orphans were seeking shade under the trees, but greedy orphans like Lima Lima did not let that stop her from eating! She moved from bush to shrub, browsing to her stomach’s content.

Energetic little Enkesha saw Zongoloni emerging from the far end of the forest. It had been a day since the little girl had seen her friend. Overjoyed and excited, Enkesha ran towards Zongoloni and the older girl was just as pleased to see her little friend and greeted her with a trumpet. Alamaya had accompanied Zongoloni and he too joined the rest of the herd whilst they browsed that afternoon.  

A herd of buffaloes were browsing in the forest when they encountered Sonje and Ziwa. Realizing there must be more, the buffaloes decided to change direction so as to avoid the orphans, but before they could, Mwashoti spotted them and let out a loud trumpet that made the buffaloes move even faster. The Keepers stayed back with Murera and Luggard and were quite relieved once the buffaloes were out of sight.

17 October 2020

The heat from the sun was getting quite unbearable, forcing the orphans to look for a waterhole to cool off in. Luckily Shukuru led them all to an old waterhole that she knew had been dug up by wild elephants. When they got there they found two buffaloes already submerged in the waterhole. As soon as the buffaloes saw Sonje and Murera they were quick to exit the waterhole, leaving the orphans to cool off and have a refreshing drink of water before they carried on with their browsing activities. Shukuru in particular enjoyed wallowing, covering herself in the cool mud which also acts as a sun block, protecting her skin from sun burn.

Lima Lima was up to her usual tricks where she lies on the ground and then pretends she is unable to get up. She was doing this next to Quanza, but when she realized Quanza was paying her no attention, she got up to go and join the Keepers where they were sitting. After a while, Lima Lima let out some low rumbles, trying to convey something to the Keepers, and they soon realized what it was. Lima Lima had spotted another buffalo in the distance who was trying to hide from orphans by keeping his head low so that the Keepers would not be able to see his horns. Since he had been spotted, Lima Lima decided it was a good time for the orphans to move on. 

Ever since Faraja has made friends with wild elephants, we are noticing more and more his interest in Lima Lima. Every time he visits the Umani herd he will try get Lima Lima’s attention and even try and mount her. Lima Lima continues to be disinterested in Faraja’s advances.

18 October 2020

Alamaya arrived at the stockades in the early morning with the rest of the night-clubbers. They made a beeline for the Lucerne corner knowing that any minute a Keeper would be wheeling out a wheelbarrow full of Lucerne bales. On the way to the Lucerne corner Alamaya stopped at a rock to scratch his belly.  

Faraja continues to pursue Lima Lima, and Lima Lima continues to reject Faraja’s advances. Both orphans are quite young but this does not stop Faraja from trying and from practicing his moves on Lima Lima. Luggard often watches them but his interest does not last very long. Sonje often has to step in and stop Faraja from annoying Lima Lima. Sonje is another older girl who has no interest in such advances from the bulls.

The morning was rather long for Lima Lima, with not just Faraja but now Jasiri chasing her too. Eventually the boys gave up and moved away to join up with the rest of their wild friends.

19 October 2020

Zongoloni decided to visit the stockades this morning and as soon as Enkesha exited her night quarters the first thing she did was to go up to her friend Zongoloni and greet her. She then moved to a big acacia tree, which we thought she would use as a scratching post, but instead she rested her head and trunk against and investigated a hole in the tree. When it was time to start their morning browsing activities, one of the Keepers went to fetch Enkesha but she was too engrossed and joined the herd shortly after.

Everyone made their way to the waterhole and today Luggard in particular found the water very cool and refreshing; he took long sips of the sweet water. Murera and Sonje kept a keen eye on Luggard as Mwashoti on the other side was busy chasing crane birds who had also come to drink from the waterhole; as Mwashoti chased them, they flew into the nearby trees for safety. The older girls wanted to make sure that Mwashoti in all his excitement did not run into Luggard.

As evening fell, the Keepers were rounding up the orphans to start making their journey back home when they encountered a small herd of wild elephants with six tiny babies. Sonje was most intrigued and quickly went up to the herd to make friends. As it was getting late the Keepers with Mwashoti’s help tried to convince Sonje to return but in vain. The Keepers thought it was perhaps better to leave Sonje to try her luck with the joining a wild herd, so they left her with the wild elephants, but by midnight, Sonje was back at the stockades trumpeting loudly at the gate to be let back in.

20 October 2020

Today the babies couldn’t wait to get to the waterhole. It had been such a hot day. Shukuru was the first one there. She found a lone bushbuck getting ready to drink water but because she wanted the waterhole to herself, she trumpeted loudly scaring the bushbuck and chasing it away. Shukuru was then joined by the other orphans and Enkesha did her usual wallowing and then moved to her scratching post just behind the soil pile.

The Keepers were busy taking photos of the orphans when they spotted Jasiri walking towards them, with his ears wide spread. They did not think much of it as Lima Lima was nearby and they thought Jasiri was trying to impress her, but then they saw Lima Lima raise her trunk and smell the air. It turned out that a wild elephant was very close by because in the next few minutes, a very large wild bull emerged from the bushes covered in mud. Lima Lima as always made sure her Keepers were safe and very swiftly the Keepers made sure to get Murera and Luggard away from the big wild bull. Quanza and Mwashoti were also very intimated by the big bull’s size so they also moved away.

21 October 2020

Faraja arrived at the stockades from his nightly adventures and went straight to Lima Lima. He is a very young bull and not quite ready to impress his female friends. We can only assume he has seen his wild bull friends during his nightly adventures mating with older females and so tries to mimic the same when he visits the Umani herd, in an attempt to come across as though he is a adult elephant.

Today Murera tried to engage Luggard in some playful games, by encouraging the little boy to climb on her back as the other babies do with Sonje, but Luggard was happy to stand back and watch his surrogate mother blow dust clouds in the air and dust her back. He even tried to do the same but with little success as his trunk is still quite small and unable to grab big dust amounts to thrown on his back; a skill that Luggard will learn over time.

The temperature continues to rise in the afternoon, sending the orphans in search of shade under whatever trees they can find. Not all of them could fit so Sonje and Murera made Enkesha, Luggard and Shukuru a priority and got them under the shade first. Shukuru made sure not to waste this opportunity and grabbed a few acacia branches and shared them with Enkesha and Luggard.  

22 October 2020

Enkesha was in search of minerals today so she dug deep into the soil to find the necessary goodness and once she was satisfied she moved on with her browsing activities.  

At the waterhole Sonje was the first one in, completely submerging herself in the water and enjoying how cool and refreshing it felt. The Keepers observed Murera watching Sonje, wanting to join in the fun. They saw Murera handover Luggard to Lima Lima and she waded into the waterhole to join Sonje. Luggard as always, was happy to stand at the edge and watch the matriarchs bathe and enjoy their time together.

Quanza was also nearby and watched as Shukuru exited the waterhole and made her way to a tree to use it as a scratching post. A vulture soon after landed on the tree scaring Shukuru a little. Unable to see what it was, but able to hear commotion in the tree above, scared Shukuru even further that she started to trumpet and shake her head, thereby scaring off the vulture. Spooked by the incident, Shukuru moved away from the tree and returned to the forest where she knew she could browse in peace. Here Shukuru found a waterhole with a lot of water, and she had her fill before joining the orphans when she saw them moving back towards the stockade as evening fell. 

23 October 2020

As soon as Lima Lima was done with her Lucerne she lay on the soil pile near the stockade area urging Luggard to join her. Whilst Luggard was happy to watch Lima Lima he didn’t seem to keen on joining Lima Lima and instead decided to join Sonje where she was still enjoying her Lucerne.

These days with the lack of rains, fresh browse is sparse and so Mwashoti decided he would fare better if he were to separate from the Umani herd and browse on his own. He made his way to the hills, where he knew even though the grass was quite dry he would still find some, and that some was better than none.  

Two Marabou storks landed at the water hole where Shukuru was drinking water and startled her. The Marabou storks walked around as though they were looking for something to eat but by then they had disturbed Shukuru’s peace and so she decided to move away. The Keepers figured the storks were there because they might have sighted a kill nearby. The afternoon turned out to be another scorcher; all the orphans took refuge under the shade of some trees until it was time to make their way back home.

24 October 2020

Alamaya arrived at the stockades this morning after what we are assuming was a night full of adventures. He arrived quietly and slowly, wanting to join the orphans at the Lucerne corner, unnoticed, but he stopped to scratch himself against a tree and the noise alerted the Keepers to his presence.

A little while later Zongoloni joined the rest of herd and the one person who is always happy to see her is Enkesha. The little girl greeted Zongoloni and they were seen with their heads together as though discussing something. As the Umani herd got ready to start their morning browsing activities, Zongoloni accompanied them part of the way and then went her separate way. Enkesha understood that Zongoloni was going to re-join the boys.  

Today Luggard enjoyed having the Keepers splash mud on him. Whilst Luggard manages well, he is unable to wallow as well as the other orphans and so every now and then the Keepers will splash mud on Luggard’s body to ensure his skin receives the same protection as the other orphans.

Lima Lima was caught unaware by Mwashoti today. She was lying in the dust pile enjoying a quick nap when Mwashoti thought it would be fun to climb on Lima Lima’s back to initiate a climbing game - this is something elephants do to let another elephant know they want to play. Unfortunately for Mwashoti Lima Lima was not in the mood and did not engage the young boy.  

25 October 2020

Since Alamaya joined the night-clubbers, his encounters with Shukuru have been very few. Every time the big boy visits the Umani herd, Shukuru tends to stay away as she knows how boisterous Alamaya can be. Today, something was different however. As soon as Alamaya arrived he sought out Shukuru and greeted her with his outstretched trunk, Shukuru too, in response, stretched her trunk to Alamaya. The two spent quite a bit of time greeting each other and standing close together as though they were catching up after a long time. After a while Alamaya left to rejoin his friends who were waiting for him in Hills.

Little Enkesha continues to show how clever she is. She can competently lead the orphans out for their browsing activities, and today before leading them into the forest she stopped at the path, looked left and right as though she was checking for traffic, and then carried on as though giving everyone the all clear that it was safe to cross the path.  

Murera enjoyed a relaxing mud bath today. Usually she would worry that the other rather rambunctious orphans would bother Luggard, but today she saw that Luggard was good to manage on his own. He was happy to stand at the edge of the mud bath, playing with the mud and watching Murera.  

The Umani herd encountered two buffaloes and two elephant bulls today. They chased the buffaloes away but the two elephant bulls remained. Sonje took a keen interest in them and went up to browse next to them, while Murera moved a little further away with Luggard to ensure his safety.

26 October 2020

Jasiri arrived at the stockades with Ziwa and Ngasha but we were not sure where Zongoloni, Faraja and Alamaya might be as they didn’t join the Umani heard today. As soon Jasiri got to the Lucerne corner, he scooped up as much Lucerne as he could fit in his trunk and Ziwa and Ngasha followed suit.

Luggard watched the big boys as he feasted on the Lucerne too and Murera stayed close by, always vigilant when these boisterous boys are in close proximity, and more so today as Murera’s assistant Lima Lima had pulled a muscle in her leg and so was resting in her quarters. Without Lima Lima, Murera had to up her vigilance.

With Lima Lima resting her leg, Sonje and Murera knew they would have to shower Luggard with more love and affection, so that the young boy would not feel the absence of his loving nanny. Luggard made his way to the waterhole and whilst he drank water, Sonje stayed close to him placed her trunk on Luggard’s back in a loving, re-assuring kind of way.  

27 October 2020

The night-clubbers met up with the Umani herd today and brought with them a wild bull. The night-clubbers, the wild bull and the orphans spent time browsing together. As the semi-independent orphans left the Umani herd no one noticed that the wild bull had stayed. Usually, our ever vigilant body guard Lima Lima would have alerted the orphans and the Keepers to his presence but today, she is still resting her leg. He wasn’t aggressive though and just followed the orphans and the Keepers.

Shukuru gave the Keepers quite a chuckle today. She waded deep into the mud bath and proceeded to show off her wonderful swimming skills, she moved around the mud-bath in a very graceful manner that also made the Keepers proud to see how well she was doing. All orphans exited the mud bath and made their way to the soil pile, including Shukuru. As the orphans were dusting themselves, the wild bull made his way back to the forest. We thought Sonje would follow him but it seems she is waiting for the day for her friend Osama to return.

28 October 2020

Lima Lima is recovering well from her muscle pull and joined the orphans today. She accompanied them for their morning browsing activities but after a while the Keepers decided to escort her back to the stockades after they saw her struggling. She was reluctant to leave her beloved boy Luggard but knew she had to rest her leg a bit more.  

This left Murera looking after Luggard with the help of Sonje of course, but it seems today Murera declined Sonje’s help and did a great job of looking after Luggard on her own. Sonje set her sights on Enkesha instead and spent the rest of her day with the little girl and Shukuru.  Murera proved to be a great matriarch, looking after the Umani herd all day and bringing them back home. As soon as they approached they stockades, the orphans were greeted by low rumbles and loud trumpeting from Lima Lima who was overjoyed to see Luggard and all her friends. The compound was quite noisy whilst everyone greeted each other and once done, they all settled for the bottle feed.

Alamaya and the other night-clubbers also arrived a few minutes later, and went to enquire after Lima Lima whom they noticed was missing from the herd this morning. They all went up to Lima Lima and placed their trunks into her quarters, greeting her and enquiring after her. As the sun went down, the night-clubbers left the stockades for their night adventures.

29 October 2020

Enkesha found herself at a crossroad in the forest. As she wondered which way to go she spotted Jasiri, and she knew that if Jasiri was in the forest then Zongoloni would not be too far behind, that it would be just a matter of time that her friend Zongoloni would appear.

Enkesha spotted Mwashoti breaking branches off an acacia tree and decided to walk towards Mwashoti as she waited for her friend, and then all of a sudden the skies darkened and the heavens opened up and it started to rain! All the orphans were taken by surprise. After months of soaring temperatures, the rain was a welcome wonder. The orphans rejoiced the arrival of these long awaited rains, which meant plenty of forage for all the wildlife in the Kibwezi/Chyulu areas. The orphans rolled in the muddy pools made by the rain. It was great to see the color of the elephants change from brown to a muddy red.  

Quanza walked into the bushes in search of Shukuru, but, unable to find her, she raised her trunk in the air to catch Shukuru’s scent. Quanza did catch a scent but it was instead a small family of buffaloes. These are the times when the Keepers miss the expertise of Lima Lima’s investigative skills. Lima Lima continues to rest her leg.

30 October 2020

The orphans started their day well, with Murera ushering all the orphans, with Mwashoti’s help towards the Lucerne area.

Lima Lima was better today and on a mission to steal Luggard from Sonje. As they walked into the browsing fields, Lima Lima made several attempts to take Luggard but was blocked by Sonje every time. Sonje even let out a few warning rumbles but Lima Lima persisted and eventually Sonje relented. Lima Lima was happy to have Luggard back under her care and Sonje then focused on Enkesha.  

Later after their midday bottle feel, Lima Lima teamed up with Murera, keeping Luggard between them at all times. They moved together in browsing and then rested a while under the shades of some trees. Ever since Lima Lima pulled her leg muscle she feels she has missed out on her time with Luggard and now to make up for it stays as close to Luggard as she possibly can.

31 October 2020

Normally we would have seen a lot of wild elephants and the night-clubbers visiting the water trough at the stockades but with the recent rains they were visibly absent yesterday. Today naughty boys Faraja and Ziwa arrived at stockades however with a wild bull with a folded ear and a younger adolescent bull.  

Lima Lima raised her trunk, alerting the Keepers that there were newcomers nearby. The Keepers are very happy to have Lima Lima back with the orphans as they can always rely on her skills as a bodyguard. The Keepers then ensured that Luggard and Enkesha were kept at a safe distance from the two wild bulls.

Everyone left at the same time to start their browsing activities, including Faraja and Ziwa with their two new friends. After a while, the Keepers spotted Sonje running out from the bushes, followed closely by the wild bull with the folded ear. It seems the wild bull was interested in Sonje, but Sonje remains steadfast, waiting for the return of her bull friend Osama. Eventually the wild bull realized Sonje was not interested and left her alone. Ngasha also realizing this, decided to escort the wild bull away from the Umani herd.