Keepers' Diaries, April 2002
Voi Reintegration Unit
Nursery Elephants:- Thankfully, it has been an uneventful and satisfying month for us all in the Nairobi Nursery, with no sudden scares, other than Sweet Sally developing what we now know as an "Elephant Wart". Fortunately, this was on her trunk and not on the eyelid as was the case with Mweya. These protuberances don't seem to cause the elephant any distress, other than possibly a little itching, but are very unsightly, sometimes the size of a cork. We have learnt that they are easily cured homeopathically using tincture of Thuya topically as well as administering the pillules. Sweet Sally is a very vocal little elephant who makes her needs known in no mean way. In preparation for the transfer of her and Mweya to Tsavo in May, we have been encouraging both to accept less milk and more cereal, something Sally has objected to. Loud bellows during the night alert everyone to the fact that she wants milk and not barley, and the protest continues until she gets her way!
01 April 2002
When Ndara and Maungu were taking their noon feed, Mulika, Nasalot and Kinna tried to squeeze in between, but Ndara and Maungu hurriedly closed the gap, fearing that the three intruders might take their milk. Imenti was in a bad mood today, and pushed Natumi and Ilingwezi away hard as they approached him. He even threatened the Keepers who went to the rescue of the youngsters.
02 April 2002
Icholta found a tasty patch of food out in the bush today and did not want to share it with Kinna, pushing her away when she approached. Edie led the orphans to the mudbath today, followed by Laikipia, who was clowning by rolling his trunk round and round. Meanwhile Emily enjoyed chasing a flock of weavers who were drinking at the pool when the orphans arrived, a game that attracted Tsavo and Mweiga, who followed suit.
03 April 2002
A tug of war broke out between Mulika and Mvita just prior to the mudbath. This was won by Mvita when Mulika fell and rolled down the bank like an empty drum! Natumi happened upon two old buffaloes which she tried to dislodge from a patch of bush, but they refused to budge and looked aggressive. Emily and Aitong then joined forces and despatched the two buffalo for Natumi.
04 April 2002
Imenti was again in a bad mood and charged the Keepers when he was approaching Emily's group after an absence of 4 hours. Yatta and the small orphans mingled in amongst a herd of buffalo today, quite peacefully, all feeding together, and even going together to the mudbath. After taking water, the buffaloes left and the small orphans carried on with their mudbath.
05 April 2002
The baby group separated into two today, Mulika going off with Ndara and Maungu whilst Nasalot and Kinna decided to join Natumi's group. The two groups re-united at the mudbath. Within Emily's group, Loisaba pushed Mvita away when Mvita tried to join Emily, something that brought Aitong to the rescue of Mvita.
06 April 2002
The baby group found itself scattered as they fed today, but a running antelope soon sent them back together and to their Keepers. Ndara was particularly scared, and spent the rest of the day in close proximity to the Keepers. Imenti was absent today, but turned up to join Emily's group on their way back to the Stockade. Back at the Stockades Edie pushed Ilingwezi down in a scramble to be first at the Coconut cakes.
07 April 2002
It was very hot today, so the babies were content to rest under shade, during which time Yatta laid her trunk across Nasalot's back in a gesture of love. Icholta returned to keep Mweiga company, as she was lagging behind. Icholta then spent the whole day with Emily's group. Imenti made a brief visit to the Stockades at 3 a.m. having been absent the day before.
08 April 2002
Imenti turned up to lead the group from the Stockades today, but Emily remained with Mweiga, who is much slower, and kept her company. Nyiro decided to test his strength against Icholta today, but Icholta won. Nasalot and Mulika did not want to go into the mudbath today. At noon Ilingwezi and Edie surrounded Ndara and Maungu whilst they were taking their milk, which made the babies restless, fearing that the bigger orphans might take their milk.
09 April 2002
The day was cool. Maungu lagged behind the other youngsters. After the mudbath Aitong kicked over all the water drums as a game, but when the Keepers approached, she felt ashamed and ran away.
10 April 2002
Laikipia and Salama indulged in their usual test of strength during the morning, which started in a friendly fashion, putting their trunks in each other's mouth, and rolling them around. They then pulled each other by intertwining trunks. Salama proved stronger. There was a disagreement at the mudbath between Kinna and Icholta. Emily's group felt threatened by two buffaloes today, who came charging towards them, sending them running back to the Keepers. Loisaba led the group back and poor Mweiga came last.
11 April 2002
During the morning, Nyiro got his own back on Icholta, pushing her to the ground and then mounting on her head. At 2 p.m. Aitong joined a wild herd and was away with them for 4 hours before joining up with the other orphans at the Stockades in the evening.
12 April 2002
Yatta's group was threatened by a running antelope and Maungu was the first to reach the Keepers for protection. Imenti was in another bad mood today. He pushed Ilingwezi to the ground. Emily loved the mudbath today, spending time with her head submerged and just her trunk visible. This ended when Tsavo climbed on her head!
13 April 2002
It was a dull day today, without much activity. Nyiro used Mukwaju's back to reach some high leaves. During mudbath Maungu got stuck. Emily got her out by using her trunk and front leg to lift her up.
14 April 2002
Mukwaju tried to mount Kinna at the mudwall today, but Kinna retaliated by biting his tail. Edie initiated a fun game by running here and there, soon joined by Ilingwezi and Laikipia. Aitong was very affectionate to Tsavo today, resting her trunk across his back, and feeding close to him all day.
15 April 2002
Nyiro did his best to mount Mukwaju during the mudbath, but kept on falling off because Mukwaju's back was so slippery. Mweiga and Salama contested the right to a root they both wanted and Mweiga won by pushing Salama to the ground.
16 April 2002
Salama mounted Laikipia and Laikipia took revenge by biting Salama hard on the ear, something that brought the Keepers to sort things out. Loisaba was terrified when a chameleon fell on her back as she was scratching herself against a tree. She ran yelling to the Keepers who removed the chameleon! In the evening Nyiro noticed that Mukwaju was in the babies' Stockade, so he went in and pushed him out until he went into the right place.
17 April 2002
When Lolokwe accidentally stepped on Yatta's trunk during the mudbath, an altercation ensued which ended by Yatta pushing Lolokwe off the mud wall. Meanwhile Tsavo tried to block Salama from going into the mudbath, but since Salama was on higher ground, he shoved Tsavo backwards, something that brought Emily running to the rescue. Salama, fearing Emily's wrath, ran out of the mudbath, but ventured back in after 10 minutes.
18 April 2002
Yatta encouraged Kinna, Mukwaju and Mulika to join her in chasing away a flock of guineafowl who were scratching around nearby. They jointly chased the guineafowl for about 400 metres, and then ran excitedly back, Kinna being the fastest runner. Natumi got a terrible scare with a millipede touched her leg! She tore back to the Keepers, her body trembling all over. Emily had a wonderful time in the mudbath, playing with a log that was floating in the water. Loisaba, Mweiga and Tsavo joined in.
19 April 2002
Yatta, Lolokwe, Ndara and Nasalot made friends with a group of waterbucks today, and grazed peacefully amongst them for two hours. Ndara was reluctant to leave the antelopes, but followed the others when they left for the mudbath. Emily's and Natumi's groups spent the day together, but Salama took himself off after Loisaba pushed him hard. He was lonely for about 20 minutes, but later rejoined the group.
20 April 2002
A combination of a running antelope and a low flying plane sent the orphans scurrying back to their Keepers. Imenti joined Emily's group at 10 a.m. chasing away any Keepers who were in the way. During mudbath Edie found herself left behind, the others having moved off. She went running in the wrong direction searching for them, which brought Natumi and Ilingwezi to the rescue. They followed Edie, found her and all three strolled "majestically" back together. Later, Emily, Aitong, Loisaba and Tsavo had fun preventing some baboons from descending a tree, breaking off small branches and trumpeting, which scared the baboons greatly! They blocked their descent for 2 hours!
21 April 2002
Icholta pushed Mulika away from some leaves she was feeding on. Mulika went to look for Nasalot for support, and having found her tried to pull her along by the trunk to come and help. Laikipia initiated a rolling game in the sand after the mudbath, joined by Natumi and Loisaba. Imenti joined the other orphans at the mudbath, having been away all night. Mweiga rumbled to acknowledge his arrival.
22 April 2002
At mudbath, Mukwaju pushed Nasalot who was standing on a slippery wall. Emily wanted to be loving to Ndara today, so she joined the baby group at 10 a.m. and gently placed her trunk across Ndara's back
23 April 2002
Yatta and Kinna escorted Maungu and Ndara to the tractor for their milk at noon. This time Yatta and Kinna just stood quietly beside the two little ones and then escorted them back to the other orphans.
24 April 2002
The day was too cold for a mudbath. Kinna, Mvita and Maungu enjoyed trying to chase off some ducks who were swimming in the pond, but when the ducks wouldn't fly off, they ventured in to send them on their way. Salama pushed Ilingwezi into the Spring Gate this morning and she got an electric shock. In the evening, she flatly refused to pass the Spring Gate, remembering the shock, and it took the Keepers a long time to coax her over. Emily did the rounds of all the Enclosures in the evening to check that the other orphans were O.K.
25 April 2002
The little orphans split up out in the bush today. Icholta went off with Nasalot and Mulika, Yatta with Kinna and Mukwaju, Mvita with Nyiro, Maungu and Ndara. They all joined back up together later at 4.50 p.m. Aitong charged a big male impala with long horns, who threatened to kick her. She rocked backwards and forwards, but the Impala refused to budge. Eventually she joined her group who were resting under a shady tree.
26 April 2002
Ndara spent the whole day underneath Emily, often trying to suckle Emily. Natumi initiated a novel game, taking the other orphans some 400 metres from the Keepers and then running back fast making all the others think something was wrong!
They all followed her in great fear. At 10.30 a.m. Emily's group joined a wild herd of 10 and spent the rest of the day with them, returning in the evening to the Stockades.
27 April 2002
During the morning, Tsavo went in search of his friend, Nyiro, and having found him, started their usual pushing game. Returning in the evening, Maungu set a slow pace for all the others, having been well fed during the day.
28 April 2002
Yatta pushed her trunk through the rails to reach Ndara in the next Stockade, but Ndara grabbed her trunk, and yanked it hard! Yatta retreated hurriedly. Natumi shoved Salama in a tussle for the Copra cakes, forcing Salama to look elsewhere for his share.
29 April 2002
Nasalot clung to Mulika all day, gently smelling Mulika's mouth with her trunk. Emily got a terrible fright when she came upon a hyena resting where she was feeding. She later charged it and chased it off whilst trumpeting and breaking down small branches.