Keepers' Diaries, April 2001

Voi Reintegration Unit

Daphne Sheldrick and Jill Woodley spent five days down in Tsavo with the orphaned elephants towards the end of April. On their way into the Park, they saw Uaso and Lewa in amongst a wild herd of all sizes, looking perfectly relaxed and busy stuffing their mouths with lush vegetation brought on by the rains.

01 April 2001

The orphans left the Night Stockades as usual at 6 a.m. with Dika in tow. Salama was out of sorts today, refusing to play with any of the others, and kicking whoever approached him! Emily and her group spent the morning away from the babies, but joined them for the mudbath, when a wild group also joined them. After the tractor had delivered the milk, Emily and Imenti had fun chasing after it.

02 April 2001

All the orphans left the Stockades together accompanied again by Dika, who was with them all morning and accompanied them to the mudbath. There they were joined by Ndume and a wild group. At 2 p.m. Lissa's group turned up when Nyiro, Salama and Laikipia had a wonderful romp with "Lara", Lissa's wild born baby who is now three years old. Emily's group parted from the others at 3 p.m. but joined them again at the Stockades in the evening, when Imenti played with Aitong.

03 April 2001

Imenti led the cavalcade from the Stockades, with Salama and Laikipia running and pushing each other in play all the way to the feeding grounds. En route they were scared by a herd of impala. Edie charged the impala, chasing them for 15 minutes, running around with her head held high and ears and tail outstretched. At the mudbath Lewa and Uaso turned up, and spent the rest of the day with the others. Emily kept Tsavo very close (probably scared that Uaso and Lewa would entice him away when they left) whilst Aitong remained close to Mweiga. Loisaba and Imenti fed together apart from the rest. Back at the Stockades, Lissa and her calf plus Dika and Ndume appeared.

04 April 2001

Lewa and Uaso were with our orphans when they left for the feeding pastures today. Ilingwezi and Edie fought for 2 minutes after which Salama tried to jump on Edie. Nyiro tried the same on Yatta. Yatta, Kinna, Mukwajo and Nyiro had their noon milk ahead of the others and when the rest were taking their milk, these four ran towards them, hoping for more. Imenti tried hard to mount Aitong. At 4 p.m. Ndume turned up to a happy reunion from the others. Shortly afterwards a group of wild elephants spent 2 hours with our orphans, and Aitong was reluctant to leave them.

05 April 2001

The orphans spent the morning together, Edie and Nyiro were thrilled when Aitong charged a swarm of birds, prompting Edie to follow suit. Salama pushed Mweiga who collapsed and bellowed, bringing Aitong to the rescue. Then Salama tussled with Laikipia. Emily and Aitong kept a close watch on Tsavo to prevent him from pushing Mweiga. In the evening Dika, Ndume and a wild bull turned up at the Night Stockades.

06 April 2001

Ndume and Lewa accompanied our orphans this morning when they left the Stockades. Nyiro tried to mount Mukwaju and then pushed Kinna, causing her to lose balance. A wild group joined the orphans at the wallow, but Natumi's group was afraid of them. Emily mingled with them briefly but then returned to be close to Tsavo.

07 April 2001

Ndume, Lewa and Uaso were with the others when they left in the morning. At 10 a.m. they met up with a wild group (Naomi's herd) with whom they spent two hours feeding. After the mudbath Ndume left, and the others spent a quiet afternoon, returning to the Stockades in the evening.

08 April 2001

Dika and Edo were with our orphans when they left the Stockades today. They then met up with some wild females, whom Dika tried to mount. Our orphans had a wonderful mudbath with Nyiro challenging Mweiga, joined also by a group of wild elephants. Emily's group walked with this wild group back into the bush afterwards, whilst Natumi's group remained with their Keepers.

09 April 2001

All left together as usual, but Nyiro fell behind, screaming loudly. This brought Aitong and Mweiga back in a rush to escort him to join the others. They all had an exciting mudbath, and then took a long rest in the shade, Aitong standing close to Nyiro.

10 April 2001

Having left in the morning, Natumi was scared by the appearance of a Monitor Lizard so she ran to Emily's group for protection. Salama had the usual tussle with Laikipia, which he won whilst Nyiro and Edie had a running and charging game. After passing the Spring Gate, Edo joined Emily's group, and he and Imenti began to play. At 9 a.m. Emily's group met up with a wild group and Emily played with a wild bull of her size, whilst another wild elephant chased Imenti off.

11 April 2001

Edo joined our orphans out in the bush at 9 a.m. He and Imenti enjoyed a game, watched by all the others. Nyiro meanwhile was struggling hard to mount some of the others. A wild group turned up at 10 a.m. and fed alongside our orphans until mudbath hour. Imenti lay in the sand after mudbath so that Nyiro and Ilingwezi could climb on him, whilst Emily showered love and care first to Tsavo and Mweiga and then to the rest of the group. In the afternoon Imenti and Edo played together, moving away from the others.

12 April 2001

Today, Lewa, Uaso, Dika and Ndume accompanied the orphans when they left in the morning. Emily's group and Natumi's group fed separately with Aitong making sorties between the two all morning. In the afternoon the orphans interacted with a wild group and were with them until it was time to return. Natumi's group kept a little apart.

13 April 2001

at l0 a.m., out in the bush, Dika suddenly appeared to a very joyful welcome by all the others. He and Imenti played together for 15 minutes. Nyiro tried to mount the three youngsters (Mukwaju, Yatta and Kinna) whilst Salama and Laikipia tussled together as usual.

14 April 2001

Lewa, Uaso, Dika and Ndume accompanied the orphans when they left in the morning. There was no wallowing today, because the weather was cold, but Salama, Laikipia and Edie played a lot in the afternoon. Uaso tried hard to mount Lewa, pursuing him for 25 minutes. Dika and Ndume left the others in the evening before returning and Emily had a quiet day keeping Mweiga and Tsavo close to her.

15 April 2001

The orphans were all together during the morning, playing a game of running and kicking bushes. They met up with a wild group, but the smaller orphans kept slightly apart from this wild herd. They enjoyed playing in a puddle before mudbath.

16 April 2001

Loisaba and Tsavo played a lot this morning, whilst Nyiro spent time challenging the others, pushing them, before pestering the Keepers to suck their fingers. They were joined by Ndume at the mudbath. Aitong was kept busy lifting all the babies up whenever they lay down. Afterwards Emily and Ndume played together, before Ndume departed, heading off alone.

17 April 2001

The day was spent as usual, with Laikipia showing off in the mudwallow, running round and round. For the first time Tsavo tried to mount Icholta. This game continued for sometime.

18 April 2001

During the morning Edie and Natumi chased butterflies whilst Emily took her group off to feed elsewhere, joining the others at the mudbath. In the mudbath Yatta played with Kinna and Nyiro, lying down in the mud so that they could climb over her. Loisaba played with Tsavo.

19 April 2001

the morning was spent as usual playing together and feeding. At milk time, there was a scramble for the bottles, when Lolokwe tried to hijack Salama's share, which resulted in a tough fight that had to be ended by the Keepers! Loisaba lay down in the mudbath first, and then the others followed suit. In the afternoon Imenti chased off a buffalo.

20 April 2001

The orphans spent a cool morning feeding and playing, but were frightened by a flock of birds. After the noon milk feed Lolokwe played with Salama amicably, and Imenti and Emily had the usual game of chasing after the Milk Tractor.

21 April 2001

Emily took her group away from the others during the morning and joined a wild group, when Loisaba and Imenti fed away from all the others, Imenti having been challenged and then chased off by a wild calf of his size. The babies were again scared by a flock of birds, this time Natumi leading the retreat back to the Keepers.

22 April 2001

The orphans spent a busy morning playing and feeding, but were terrified by a low flying aircraft, which caused them to run to the Keepers for protection. Edie was the worst affected. She spent the next 10 minutes charging and trumpeting. In the afternoon Mweiga fell over a log which caused her to bellow, bringing Aitong to the rescue to lift her up again.

23 April 2001

All the orphans spent the morning together and enjoyed an exciting mudbath, but Imenti refused to go in. Tsavo tried to mount Icholta whilst Nyiro and Salama were doing the same.

24 April 2001

The morning was spent together feeding as usual. During mudbath Nyiro deliberately downed two drums, spilling all the water.. At the noon milk feed Lolokwe finished his ration of three bottles and then started crying for more whilst Tsavo kept pushing Mweiga, forcing her to shift Keepers.

25 April 2001

During the morning Tsavo and Mweiga decided to join Natumi's group when Tsavo tried to mount Edie. However, since she is taller than he, he fell down and soon abandoned this prank. Back at the Stockades Imenti tried to mount Aitong.

26 April 2001

During the morning Nyiro wanted to suck the Keepers' fingers all the time. They all wallowed "immensely", after which Nyiro, Laikipia and Salama climbed over Imenti in the sandbath. In the afternoon Tsavo and Mukwaju had a battle, Tsavo pushing Mukwaju very hard, causing him to cry for help and run away.

27 April 2001

The orphans enjoyed a quiet and friendly morning, with Salama and Laikipia being unusually gentle with one another. Imenti allowed Mweiga to shove him, making her seem as though she had easily won. Later he sent two buffaloes on their way.

28 April 2001

All left together, Edie and Nyiro playfully charging the bushes on the way out. All took the mudbath together, but Icholta had a hard time from Tsavo who kept trying to mount her. She tried to hide from him, but he kept following her. Imenti had the usual game with Emily.

29 April 2001

All left together, but Emily and her group parted shortly afterwards. Nyiro and Yatta indulged in a battle that ended in an equal draw whilst Nyiro tried to take on Ilingwezi. However, Laikipia intervened, coming between them to end the contest. At 2.30 p.m. a lone buffalo charged the Keepers, but Imenti came to the rescue, intercepting the buffalo, turning it and then chasing it off. Aitong, who is very fond of Mweiga, rested in the shade with her trunk over Mweiga.

30 April 2001

The morning was spent as usual. No mudwallow today due to the cool weather. Nyiro, Yatta, Kinna and Mukwaju took their noon milk first, followed by the others, with Emily and Aitong escorting Tsavo and Mweiga. A running impala scared the smaller orphans, who ran towards their Keepers, Kinna leading the race, followed by Natumi and Ilingwezi.