Keepers' Diaries, October 2022

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Zongoloni seems to think she can have her cake and eat it too. She is enjoying a largely wild life, but she is constantly trying to recruit new members for her ex-orphan herd. Unfortunately for her, the older dependent females are wise to her kidnapping ways and are now on the offensive when she’s around.

One afternoon, Zongoloni, Faraja, and Jasiri joined the orphan herd. Zongoloni was singularly focused on little Kapei, escorting him to the waterhole in the hopes of giving him a mud bath. However, Sonje was not about to let this happen. She no longer trusts Zongoloni after her repeated attempts to kidnap Kiasa, so she body-blocked her from interacting with Kapei. Murera agreed with Sonje and loudly rumbled a warning to Zongoloni, who was forced to concede defeat.

Ziwa, on the other hand, was allowed unfettered access to Kapei, because the girls knew he would never spirit a baby away. After being gone for a spell, he appeared with some of his wild friends. Ziwa was very curious when he realised there was a new baby in the herd. Alamaya and Zongoloni spent quite a bit of time with him, filling him in on Kapei.

Poor Lima Lima is really struggling between the desire to lead a wild life and the ties back home. She has been very busy, patrolling the area and getting up to all sorts of adventures, although she still links up with the orphan herd every day. The Keepers have noticed that since Kapei arrived, she has been loyally coming back each morning to check on ‘her little angel,’ as if worried that Sonje and Quanza will become Kapei’s favourites in her absence!

In fact, Lima Lima can be wily in her pursuit of Kapei! Each morning, Sonje walks around all the stockades to check in on everyone. After doing her rounds, she stopped at Kapei’s door, waiting for him to be let out. As soon as he emerged from his bedroom, her rival Quanza arrived, so Sonje ushered Kapei in the opposite direction, shepherding him over to Lima Lima. Lima Lima enveloped the young boy in hugs and then blocked Sonje from accessing them. Sonje watched in disbelief, as she was the one who led Kapei to Lima Lima in the first place!

While Maktao shows nothing but kindness to Kapei, Kiombo’s feelings are more complicated. He is now big enough to be more independent, but he likes being Sonje’s favourite — and he knows that Kapei seems to be dethroning him of that title! Whenever Kapei moves closer to Sonje, Kiombo gets very jealous and chases him away.

Because of the drought, wildlife have been flocking to the Kibwezi Forest, where there is still some food to be found. Bushbucks, baboons, and buffalos now come to the stockades in large numbers, knowing they can help themselves to the supplemental lucerne which has been such a lifeline in the drought. 

Maktao and Kiombo do not take kindly to these visitors. One morning, the boys banded together and started trumpeting and chasing the bushbucks and baboons. The buffalos and baboons stood their ground, knowing the orphans didn’t present any real threat. To make matters worse, Maktao tripped over a log and fell on his knees. Looking quite embarrassed, he gave up the chase and sidled over to his friend Enkesha for some sympathy.

Sometimes, Kiombo and Kiasa think they are much more mature than they actually are. One afternoon, they took a wrong turn following some wild elephant trails and got turned around. When they realised that they were lost, they started trumpeting in panic. The Keepers heard them, but Lima Lima and Enkesha were already hot on the trail. They went rushing into the bushes and retrieved their little friends. 

The 14th was a very exciting day. Late afternoon, we welcomed a new rescue named Amali, who was found on her own in Rukinga Ranch. Amali has a cut trunk — possibly as a result of a snare or a predator bite — but the injury has healed. She is another victim of the devastating drought that has swept across Kenya.

Our Umani herd dynamics continue to evolve. Sonje has the most active leadership role and is universally beloved by all the orphans. Quanza remains her loyal deputy, while Lima Lima is the scout. Murera prefers to be a bit separate from the rest of the herd, accompanied only by her beloved Mwashoti. While she enjoys being away from the hustle and bustle, Murera is always quick to respond if any of the babies are in trouble. Unfortunately, most of this trouble comes from our pushy friend Ngasha, who seems to think he is the boss of the Umani herd.

The month ended with another addition to the orphan herd. Like Kapei and Amali, Olapa is a drought victim. She was found collapsed and arrived late in the night, after a long drive from Amboseli. Despite being in terribly gaunt condition, she rallied remarkably quickly once the life-saving drips worked their magic. Our Umani herd is growing! 

October 2022 day to day

01 Oct

Kapei has developed a strong bond with Sonje and Quanza, Lima Lima has also tried to adopt Kapei but she is at a disadvantage because she is a nightclubber and doesn’t get to spend as much time with Kapei. Kapei is a happy young boy, he loves being looked after by the older girls and is very happy to have more than one ‘mother’. 

When Faraja and Jasiri came to visit this morning, they went to greet the tiny new Kapei. Zongoloni left Kiasa, turning all her attention to Kapei. Zongoloni walked with Kapei to the waterhole, wanting to help give him a mud bath. Sonje no longer trusts Zongoloni after she tried to take Kiasa off with her into the bush, so Sonje blocked Zongoloni from interacting with Kapei. Murera agreed with Sonje and loudly rumbled a warning to Zongoloni. 

Kapei and Quanza

Sonje and Lima Lima