Keepers' Diaries, April 2005

Voi Reintegration Unit

Again Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally have kept in close touch with the other orphans, joining them at the Stockades, or soon after leaving, on the mornings of the 6th, 10th, 26th, and the 8th when they escorted the babies back to the Stockades, and Ndara remained outside with Emily’s group until they left. On the 7th, Emily’s group were feeding up Mazinga Hill, and upon leaving, the other orphans scented them, and joined them there. Again Ndara was tempted to follow Emily’s group when they separated, but later thought better of it and returned. Emily’s group paid a short visit to the Stockades on the 17th to take a drink of water and on the 23rd, when the other orphans were already in their Night Stockade. They met up with the orphans actually at the mudbath on the 24th, when Aitong sprayed cold water over the backs of the babies, and again on the 30th, after which Emily led the orphans to introduce them to a new feeding area with lusher vegetation below the Baobab waterhole. Thus Emily’s group has been with the still dependent orphans for 9 days out of the 30 days of April.

01 April 2005

After mudath, Mweya went to rub against an antihill. She then inserted her trunk into one of the openings, which was bitten by the ants. She screamed, and the Keepers rushed to pull off those sticking to her trunk.

02 April 2005

Mvita and Mukwaju had a disagreement today and were separated by Laikipia. Mvita was so frustrated at not being able to punish Mukwaju that she bit her own trunk, but later the two browsed peacefully together.

03 April 2005

A large Cobra was seen where the orphans were browsing at the foot of Mazinga Hill. We all hurriedly left, choosing another feeding place.

04 April 2005

Salama and Tsavo chased off a buffalo who was drinking at their waterhole at noon. It was cool so none of the orphans went into the mud, although Burra contemplated doing so, trying to entice the others to join him, with no luck.

05 April 2005

It was a warmer day today, so the orphans went early to the mudbath, and had a wonderful time, running in and out, and trumpeting with happiness. The game came to an end when Morani fell down, screaming when one of the others stepped on him.

06 April 2005

Emily, aitong and Sally came to the Stockade in the early morning to escort the babies. They were with them until 2 p.m. when they wandered off.

07 April 2005

The orphans scented Emily’s group who were up Mazinga Hill. They went to join her, and later she led them down again and went with them to their normal feeding grounds. Emily peeled off at 4.40 p.m. taking Ndara with her, but Ndara returned to join the other orphans half an hour later when they were on their way back to the Stockades.

08 April 2005

Emily’s unit met up with the babies on their way back to the Stockade in the evening. Ndara remained with Emily, Aitong and Sally outside the Stockade until Emily left, when Ndara came on in.

09 April 2005

Laikipia, Salama and Sosian remained up Mazinga Hill, where they were feeding in the morning, when the other orphans went for their noon mudbath. Ten minutes later the three boys came running to join the others, charging and breaking branches. Their arrival brought “sheer” happiness.

10 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the orphans at the Stockade in the morning. The two groups trumpeted and rumbled, stretching their trunks in greeting. They all went feeding together for the entire morning. Emily and her group wandered off after the noon mudbath.

11 April 2005

Lissa, Uaso and Lissa’s two wild-born babies, Lara and Lali, came from the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill to take water at the Stockades in the evening at 5 p.m. Lara went to wait at the back of the Spring Gate to greet the other orphans when they returned, escorting them back to the Night Quarters before leaving with her mother, sister and Uaso.

12 April 2005

On the way out in the morning, Salama went ahead and blocked the passage of all the others. Anyone that tried to go past got pushed, so the Keepers had to go and reprimand him so that everyone could proceed.

13 April 2005

Naomi’s group (the wild herd led by the wild Matriarch, Naomi) joined the orphans at 10 a.m. which created great excitement. The orphans were very happy, running here and there and playing pushing games with wild age-mates. They all enjoyed the noon mudbath together, where they wallowed wonderfully. Laikipia accompanied a wild friend, and never returned to the Stockade in the evening.

14 April 2005

Laikipia emerged from a wild herd of about 15, who were about 600 metres away from the orphans. He approached, lifting up his trunk to test for the scent of the babies, and was greeted enthusiastically, especially by Salama.

15 April 2005

The orphans browsed peacefully in amongst a large herd of impalas, without charing onto them. However, the impalas became alarmed when Mweya mischievously lay down and started crawling towards them on her stomach. As soon as the impalas began to run away, she stood up. Ilingwezi used her forhead and trunk to loosen soil in the waterhole at noon, spreading it onto her back whilst lying in the water. Because it was cool, none of the others joined her in the waterhole.

16 April 2005

Burra and Sosian competed in a pushing match at noon, which was interrupted by Solango. Burra tried to shove Solango away, using his tail and kicking with his back legs, but Solango bit Burra’s tail, making him yell! At mudbath, Laikipia and Salama chased off an old buffalo bull who came to the waterhole to drink. They returned 3 minutes later.

17 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sally came to the Stockades at 10 a.m. where they took a drink. A short while later they left towards the Eastern side of the hill.

18 April 2005

A buffalo, who was hiding in a thicket, charged and chased the Keepers at 8.47 a.m. The orphans were in a confused state, and followed the fleeing Keepers, later going to feed in another direction.

19 April 2005

Mweya and Seraa kept Mweiga company, who was lagging behind all the others in the morning. Mweiga was very happy to have their company, as she proceeded at her slow pace, swinging her trunk from side to side to show her pleasure.

20 April 2005

Nyiro tried to mount Mweiga at 9.10 a.m., causing Mweiga to fall down and scream. The Keepers ran to help her, but she managed to get up un-aided. Nyiro, who felt ashamed, ran away from the group, and remained away for quite a long time, joining them a lot later.

21 April 2005

The orphans were very scared by two bull buffaloes who were engaged in a tough fight over a female. Some of the orphans tried to chase the warring bulls away, but they looked aggressive, so we all left, leaving the fight to go on.

22 April 2005

In the evening, Natumi escorted Mpala, Seraa and Irima to their top Stockade, and waited to see them taking their bottles of milk before leaving to go to her Night Stockade further away.

23 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally came to drink water at the Stockades in the evening when the others were already inside. Ndara and Loisaba rumbled their greeting as they passed by on their way to feed towards the Western side of Mazinga Hill at 6.30 p.m.

24 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the babies at the noon mudbath when none of them wanted to go in, because it was too cold. Aitong took water in her trunk and sprayed it over the babies’ backs, which they did not appreciate. Emily, and her group, remained with the orphans until 4 p.m. before leaving, heading North.

25 April 2005

After a wonderful noon mudbath, Mweiga went to soil dust herself with Solango, and then rested her head on his back. When she applied more pressure, he bellowed, and Mweiga desisted immediately.

26 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the orphans as they were leaving the Stockades in the morning. At the noon mudath, Natumi lay down and allowed the others to climb over her. Solango enjoyed playing with Thoma, whilst Lolokwe chose Mukwaju. Emily’s group separated at 4.30 p.m.

27 April 2005

Icholta, Mweiga, Lolokwe, Mukwaju and Edie had to be escorted to their new Quarters in the evening, since renovations had taken place, making it look different. Mukwaju, Lolokwe and Icholta were reluctant to go in at first, but Edie and Mweiga gave them encouragement. All went round inspecting their new quarters before settling down to feed.

28 April 2005

Mweiga enjoyed the dessicated coconut which Mrs. Sheldrick said should be added to her milk. She begged for more when she had taken her full quota.

29 April 2005

The orphans joined a group of 10 wild elephants at 8 a.m. One wild cow had huge tusks, which to begin with the orphans found daunting, but later on they all joined up and browsed happily together. Salama tested his strength against a wild agemate. This wild friend remained behind even when the rest of his herd left at l0.05 a.m. He joined them l0 minutes later. Morani, Mpala and Seraa kept following a wild calf of about 4 months, but returned when the others began to go to the mudbath.

30 April 2005

Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the other orphans at the mudbath. Sally had a wonderful pushing game with Ndara and Mweya. Emily then led the orphans below the Baobab waterhole, where there is a lot of browse. She and her group then peeled off at 3.20 p.m.