Keepers' Diaries, September 2022

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Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Zongoloni is constantly trying to recruit younger orphans to join the semi-independent orphans, the ‘nightclubbers,’ and it seems that Maktao is her latest recruit. The month began with her trying to wheedle him away from the dependent herd. Lima Lima was not happy about this; Zongoloni stole Kiasa from her, and now she was trying to steal Maktao’s attention. Enkesha, who is Maktao’s best friend, also joined Lima Lima’s campaign to thwart Zongoloni. In the end, Maktao realised he is not ready to be a nightclubber and decided to remain with Enkesha.

Kiasa is such a smart young elephant. After their morning bottles, the orphans were ready for the new day. The gate had been partially opened, but they were reluctant to walk through, because they know that the fence is electrified at night. Everyone huddled around, waiting for the Keepers to push the gate open completely, until Kiasa took charge of the situation. She held onto the gate, careful not to touch the wires, and managed to push open the gate herself, letting her friends pass through. The Keepers were very impressed with her. 

One morning, the Keepers were putting lucerne out for the nightclubbers when they got a surprise: A wild herd with tiny babies had arrived, looking for food. Unfortunately, they were not eager to share and blocked Ngasha, Zongoloni, Alamaya, and Jasiri from getting any lucerne. Lima Lima and Zongoloni went straight for the tiny babies, which made wild elephant mothers even more angry. Six females blocked Lima Lima and Zongoloni, ensuring their wild babies were able to eat the lucerne pellets in peace. After they left, the Keepers made sure that the nightclubbers also had their fill.

Enkesha and Kiasa are definitely matriarchs-in-the-making. One morning, they took over the leadership roles and decided where the orphans would browse. The Keepers tried to pick a different direction, but they would not listen. Sonje tried to follow the Keepers’ lead, but Enkesha and Kiasa were in control and made sure she stayed with the rest of the herd as they all moved to the Kenzili area. They showed good judgement, because they found lots of food there.

Of course, Sonje is still the real leader of the Umani herd. All it takes is a short, quiet rumble for the orphans to immediately assemble around her. All the orphans trust Sonje and believe she makes the best decisions. Murera is Sonje’s partner and commands equal respect, although she is happy for Sonje to make most group decisions.

They may be the oldest boys of the Umani herd, but the nightclubber bulls can be big babies. One day, One day, Jasiri and Ngasha separated from the herd and went in their own direction. Before they could walk deeper into the forest, Lima Lima persuaded Jasiri to follow her back to the rest of the herd, but Ngasha refused to join. Before long, however, Ngasha became frightened by some Sykes’ monkeys that were shouting loudly from the tree tops. He quickly decided he did not want to be alone and hastily rejoined his friends.

14th September was a big day for everyone at Umani. In the afternoon, the Keepers received a call that a new rescue, named Kapei, was being brought to the stockades. This was a first, as Umani is not usually a home for newly rescued orphans. However, Kapei was on the older side and was rescued fairly nearby, so given the late hour too it was the only viable destination for him.

Almost as if on cue, Lima Lima, who had been spending lots of time away, suddenly materialised. She made a beeline for Kapei’s stockade and insisted that the Keepers let her inside. She spent more than three hours with the newcomer, giving him hugs and patting his head.

When the orphans all came back to the stockades in the evening, Quanza walked right over to Kapei’s stockade and spent a few minutes chatting with him. Maktao, who is in the room next door, was very gentle with his new friend. The orphans and Keepers are all very happy to have such a small addition to the herd.

Unsurprisingly, some of the orphans are jealous of the new arrival. One morning, Alamaya tried to chase Kapei away from the feeding area by sneakily kicking him with his hind legs. The Keepers and big girls reacted quickly to defend Kapei. Murera ran behind Alamaya to discipline him, ably supported by her beloved Mwashoti. Alamaya prudently ran away to avoid being punished.

Later in the month, Ziwa appeared with his wild herd. It makes the Keepers so happy to see him thriving in the wild, right at home among his new family. He is looking big and strong these days, despite the challenging drought conditions.

The month ended with a bit of drama. Wild elephants converged at the Umani Springs, seeking shelter from the wildfires and smoke on the hills. When Quanza tried to hug one of the wild babies, the mother thought she wanted to abduct her baby and aggressively confronted her. In response, clever Quanza rushed back to get Kapei. She introduced him to the wild elephants, making it clear that she had her own baby and was no threat to theirs. Peace was restored!

September 2022 day to day

01 Sep

Zongoloni was clearly trying to recruit Maktao to be her newest ‘nightclubber,’ leaving the dependent herd and joining her out in the forest. Lima Lima, following behind them, obviously understood Zongoloni’s plans to take Maktao away. Lima Lima was not happy about this, because she didn’t want to lose her little friend. Zongoloni had tried to steal Kiasa from her and now she was trying to steal Maktao’s attention as well. Lima Lima decided to fight to keep Maktao. Enkesha then joined in, not wanting to lose her best friend. Enkesha tried to separate Maktao from Zongoloni, but she was not strong enough. She chose to walk away and leave Maktao to make his own decision. Realising that he is not ready to be a nightclubber after all, Maktao decided to stay with Enkesha. He knows that he still wants and needs the security of the stockades at night and his milk bottles. 

Jasiri and Ziwa arrived outside the stockades, where the Keepers have been putting out lucerne. Ziwa brought along his friends and family to enjoy the supplementary food. Ziwa and Jasiri seem aware of how important the lucerne was at such a dry time of year. The wild elephants enjoyed eating lucerne together with them.

Kiasa and Maktao

Sonje, on the left, with Lima Lima