The Kibwezi Forest is kept lush year round due to the perennial existence of the Umani Springs and it is for this reason we chose to locate our newest Rehabilitation unit, Umani, there and introduce our disadvantaged orphans there; those that would certainly not be able to cope with the harsh drought-like conditions that are ravaging the rest of Tsavo. Sonje, Murera and Mwashoti all have compromised legs and walk with a limp; to walk the long distances that elephants normally have to forage, especially during the dry season, would put them at a serious disadvantage. Even within the forest eco system, the orphans do still have to walk quite far looking for fresh vegetation and return quite tired in the afternoon. These orphans are fortunate to have the added treat of the seeding acacia trees however. These pods are a delicious snack for the orphans and one they relish every time this season comes about. Sometimes they can eat so many of them their throats are dry and parched and they have to look for fresh clean water to quench their thirst! They wait patiently beneath the trees, along with bush bucks, as the baboons jump around and drop the pods from the branches, or collect them in the morning having been blown down during the night by the wind. The presence of these bush bucks around the compound however also tends to draw their predator, the leopard, which upsets the orphans and they will shout and bang their gates during the night if they spot them in the trees, especially little Alamaya.
Quanza is a funny little girl as she will choose not to follow the crowd like the others. One day as the others were enjoying their morning lucerne pellet supplements, she chose instead to find and collect up all the acacia pods on the ground so that when the others came to enjoy them, she had eaten them all. Another day she decided to eat the lucerne pellets whist the others devoured as many pods as they could find and they missed out on the other supplements! She is a clever little girl, but Murera was very annoyed with her and pushed her away. This month the Umani orphans were also given the new bigger milk bottles, so that the contents from the two they used to receive before now fits into one, plus a bit extra! The orphans were left very confused on the day of the transition however, feeling satisfied from the amount of milk they had but having been used to two bottles instead of one, they wondered if they were being cheated of some milk! Eventually they left the feeding area satisfied that they were actually content.
We are enjoying watching the babies Alamaya and Mwashoti grow in size and character, although as bulls this does mean they are becoming slightly more boisterous and mounting on some of the females and play fighting. One day Alamaya intentionally walked up to Mwashoti and pushed him over, which was quite harsh considering Mwashoti’s compromised foot and he was reprimanded by the Keepers and Murera as well. Both boys sometimes team up with Ziwa in the morning as well to raid the lucerne store, behaviour previously more becoming of greedy Lima Lima than the two youngsters! They remain the babies of the group though and are molly-coddled by all the females, especially Murera, Sonje and Lima Lima. They especially do not always enjoy the wild elephants in the forest, of which there have been plenty this month considering the dry conditions in the rest of the area, approaching the two young boys. Each interaction with these wild herds is different and sometimes our orphans are feeling more sociable than others. Generally the males Ziwa, Faraja, Ziwa and Jasiri and sometimes Quanza and Zongoloni too are more interested in interacting with them. Lima Lima loves the wild babies but needs to work on her manners somewhat as she can be a bit over zealous and end up pulling their tails which always brings an end to that meeting!