Keepers' Diaries, April 2009

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The four ex Nursery inmates who were moved earlier to the Voi Rehabilitation Unit, namely Wasessa, Shimba, Shimba’s friend, Mzima, and Siria, in order to free up Nursery space, have settled happily at their new home and are enjoying their new life, which involves a lot more exercise walking greater distances than the Nursery can allow, and which follows roughly the same daily pattern.

The four ex Nursery inmates who were moved earlier to the Voi Rehabilitation Unit, namely Wasessa, Shimba, Shimba’s friend, Mzima, and Siria, in order to free up Nursery space, have settled happily at their new home and are enjoying their new life, which involves a lot more exercise walking greater distances than the Nursery can allow, and which follows roughly the same daily pattern.

After a night’s rest in the Stockades, they are let out at daybreak, and enjoy playing around the compound, particularly running up and down the terraced slope, whilst the Keepers reinforce their constitution with tea before the day’s outing. The elephants are then escorted to either the slopes of the nearby Mazinga Hill, (Emily’s unit’s main stamping ground), or else down the hill past the KWS Workshops and into the main area of the Park. The noon milk feed and daily mudbath is the highlight of the day, especially when the Red Waterhole below the Headquarters is transformed into an Elephant Swimming Bath and frequented by wild herds as well. There they can actually submerge themselves in the water and have fun. Following the mudbath, there is usually a dusting session to dry off, then a rest under shade waiting for the ambient temperature to drop before embarking on another browsing session, gradually making their way back to the Night Stockades. There, they enjoy another milk feed before going into their Night Stockade where browse is provided for them to snack on during the night. Greatly enjoyed are the Grewia branches whose bark is rich in calcium and minerals to form strong elephant bones.

However, the highlight of the month was being reunited with Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya, their erstwhile Nursery friends, who were transferred to Voi on the 29th, each elephant traveling in a separate truck accompanied by their Keepers. The three newcomers arrived at the Voi Unloading ramp at 12.30 p.m. First out was Lempaute, who looked confused without the presence of Lesanju and Sinya, but was soon warmly greeted by Shimba, Wasessa, Siria and Mzima who hurried forward, intertwined trunks, rumbled happily and were clearly excited and overjoyed to see them. Next out was Sinya, who also enjoyed a warm welcome, especially from Lempaute who was very relieved to be with her again, and lastly came the Nursery Matriarch, Lesanju, adored by all. Amidst the rapturous greeting, Lesanju began to re-assert her authority, determined that her position should not be usurped, although Wasessa was quite prepared to step down in rank. All were then taken to the Stockade water trough for a drink after their long hot journey, and Lesanju immediately put her forelegs right in, and then put her entire self into the drinking trough, climbing out having cooled off. They all then enjoyed their noon milk feed, followed by a mudbath that had been prepared nearby for them, before heading off down the hill to the Red Waterhole, passing wild elephants on the way which unphased Lempaute. (She and Lesanju were just 3 weeks old when they arrived in the Nursery, so have no recollection of elephants larger than themselves! )
Throughout that first excursion, Lempaute, especially kept very close to the Keepers pressing herself lovingly against Angela’s husband Robert, despite the fact that it had been he who pushed her into the truck that morning. She was obviously uncertain about this new development in a life that hitherto had been very sheltered in the Nursery. However, despite any reservations, all the orphans thoroughly enjoyed actually immersing themselves in the Red Waterhole, and also feasting on the new fresh low country browse, rich in minerals and new from the recent heavy rainstorm that had filled the Red Waterhole.

The next day they were taken to browse along the slopes of Mazinga Hill, and there had their first close encounter with a wild herd that also happened to be browsing there. Siria, who clearly remembers being part of a wild herd, was very interested in the wild Matriarch’s small calf, but was a bit too forward and got reprimanded by the mother who gave him a quick prod. His bellow terrified the other orphans who rushed back to their Keepers for protection! They did, however, later enjoy chasing some baboons, a species familiar to them from their Nairobi days.

Reports since from Joseph Sauni assure us that Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya have also settled in very rapidly, and are loving this new phase of their life’s journey, Lesanju still very definitely the Leader of the mini herd.

There has been no sign of Emily’s group this month, nor that of Aitong and Natumi, or any of our 36 now wild orphans, all of whom are obviously enjoying greener pastures further afield with their wild peers.

The three little kudu orphans at the Voi Stockades who are being reared by the Voi Keepers are doing extremely well, namely Mkuki and Nchia who are both males and the little female named Aruba. They make an enchanting threesome.

April 2009 day to day

01 Apr

Having emerged from their Night Stockades, Shimba, Mzima, Wasessa and Siria had fun indulging in Stockade games after a drink at the Stockade trough. They then went to browse at the foot of the Southern side of Mazinga Hill, where they enjoyed chasing baboons who were within sight of them. During one chase Siria’s front leg became entangled in some grass, causing him to fall, so the chasing came to an abrupt end. They returned in the evening after a good days browsing.

Siria browsing

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