Keepers' Diaries, September 2018

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

This month Shukuru had to be locked in the stockade compound in the mornings whilst she was fed ON her Lucerne supplement pellets. This was of course due to our greedy little Lima Lima who would try to steal Shukuru’s supplements whenever the opportunity arose, despite having been given a healthy helping herself. Shukuru is a wonderfully gentle girl so she will naturally give way to the other orphans, rather than provoke a fight. The arrangement of feeding her in the stockade has prevented any rambunctious behavior at that time. Sometimes the Keepers move Zongoloni to feed close to Lima Lima, as they know she will never misbehave in her presence, given Zongoloni’s inability to tolerate any nonsense!

Even though he is years younger than her, even little Mwashoti tries to bully Shukuru, and even succeeded in pushing her over one day. This is because he has always been the cosseted baby of the group basking in Murera and Sonje’s attention along with the Keepers, and since Shukuru’s arrival she has been enjoying significant attention from both the older girls and the Keepers. Despite Mwashoti’s grumblings and Lima Lima’s greedy behavior, Shukuru has settled down so well into Umani since moving there in July, and already has put on condition which is comforting for us all. We are always so delighted to see her playing, charging around trumpeting, as there is no better health barometer than when elephants choose to play without a care in the world.

This month we have found our usually quiet and gentle little baby Mwashoti becoming a little boisterous and acting out. He has been pushing the older girls around including no nonsense Quanza and Zongoloni, but they have remained tolerant of his behaviour because he is afterall just a little fellow, l so they have chosen to overlook this and have given him some rein, but he has definitely been pushing his luck. Aside from trying to push Shukuru around he has been acting like the little tough guy, trying to lead the herd sometimes showing off that he is older than he actually is. One night the Keepers were surprised to find him wondering around the compound on his own, as he had managed to pull open the chain holding his stockade door shut! It was surprisingly the older boys, Jasiri, Faraja and Ngasha were more well-behaved this month than the little baby boys. They were very protective towards the other members of their family. One day there was a buffalo feeding close to their bottle-feeding point by the mud bath, and Faraja went to push the buffalo away so that Murera, who was limping more than usual that day and feeling slightly vulnerable we suspect, could access the area free of any risk. Again, when Zongoloni woke a sleeping buffalo which can always be fraught, it was Ziwa, Faraja and Ngasha who came to help her chase it away, ensuring that the buffalo didn’t charge. As much as the older boys like to fulfill their roles as protectors, it is clear they still rely on the older females in the herd, Quanza, Murera and Sonje, for guidance and security, and when they decided to go their own path one day and encountered some wild elephant bulls, they quickly ran back to join the rest of the herd and continued to walk with them for the rest of the day, not confident enough yet to tackle that encounter alone. There was only the one incident this month where it seems Faraja could not help himself and he grabbed Alamaya’s half tail, despite knowing how much this provokes him. He turned to fight Faraja and it took both Sonje and Lima Lima to come between them and prevent a big fight from breaking out. Poor little Alamaya is so self-conscious of his compromised rear end, and anyone touching his tail stump is a painful reminder of the trauma he went through leading up to his rescue from the Masai Mara.

September 2018 day to day

01 Sep

Having finished their morning Lucerne pellets, all the orphans began to playfully charge around the stockades. Shukuru wanted to join Lima Lima and Zongoloni, who were play fighting, but she was stopped by Sonje, who was concerned that she would be pushed over by the other two. Shukuru understood why Sonje stopped her, and moved away from Lima Lima and Zongololni, giving them time to finish playing. Ziwa, having finished his mud bath, majestically walked off into the bushes shaking his big head and ears. Faraja and Ngasha were still busy in the waterhole, whilst some of the other orphans decided to move on and have a dust bath.

Shukuru busy browsing

Zongoloni resting her trunck on Alamaya's back

Ziwa having a drink at the waterhole