Keepers' Diaries, September 2014

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Umani Overview

Umani Overview

Umani Springs in the Kibwezi forest is now three months old and in that time both the orphans and their Keepers have settled into the routine. In fact the keeper team at Umani Springs are begging never to be transferred to another Unit ever again so passionate are they about the place. The orphans seem to mirror their sentiment, and all appear extremely content. Despite the dry season they are as fat as butter and are enjoying the interaction with the wild herds especially at night. They remain a little reticent about having too much contact during the day, and that is something the Keepers are weary of too as very often amidst wild herds there are some baby snatchers, and with some of our babies at Umani still very much milk dependent that would not be helpful right now. Being a forested environment the keepers have to keep an eagle eye out for wild elephants and buffalos, but more often than not, before they are even aware of either, the orphans will have alerted them.

The midday mud bath and soil dusting has dominated the hot time of day this month, and the orphans love wallowing and playing to cool down in the mud at the many mud bathing sites to choose from in the forest. Then after that they rest in the shade of the beautiful Fig and Newtonia trees in the area. The vegetation is varied and they can enjoy days in the Palm forests, or in the Comiphera bush on the slopes of Umani hill, or feeding on the beds and beds of Tusset grass, or wandering deeper into the forest in search of browse. Ever present in the dry season seems to be the aggravating baboons who enjoy being close to the action, but times are tough for them too in the peak of the dry season.

Then there is the welcome comfort of their night stockades which the Umani herd simply love. Of course the added bonus of Lucerne and Dairy cubes makes coming home in the evening even more pleasurable for them. Quanza has developed a bottle snatching routine, leaving with her milk bottle and sometimes disposing of it in the mudbath or anywhere difficult for the Keepers to retrieve. This she has done several times this month and unfortunately for the keepers Quanza and Lima Lima are both feeding themselves milk and then leaving with the bottle.

Murera seems to be getting stronger, walking further with less of a limp, and has really settled and taken charge of the herd with Sonje, her best friend, never far from her side. She plays and wallows, rolls around in the dust and frolics daily more than we have ever seen in the past. It is lovely to watch. Zongoloni, Quanza and Lima Lima are extremely close and like to mess around together and are full of playful antics but generally this little unit of girls are extremely attached to each other. Theirs is a friendship that will span a lifetime.

September 2014 day to day

01 Sep

Sonje began her day in jovial manner, rolling around in the soil Murera decided to join in all the excitement of soil dusting. Suddenly the orphans all got up and raced to the keepers sensing a problem in the nearby bushes. The keepers were then alerted and quickly got up in search for what the elephants had sensed. After approximately 5 minutes the keepers spotted some buffaloes in the distance running away from where the orphans were. The orphans had obviously startled the buffaloes and caused the buffaloes to flee the area. At mud bath time all the babies felt the heat of the hot mid day sun, so they all decided to jump straight into the water hole (that had been made by wild elephants in search of water) in an attempt to cool themselves.

The orphans playing in the mud

The orphans enjoying the pleasures of the mud

The orphans browsing by the mud bath