Keepers' Diaries, April 2010

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Currently, 10 young elephants remain at the Voi Stockades in the process of rehabilitation back into the wild community, orphan Shira having recently chosen to attach herself to a wild herd. Although the Keepers have been keeping an eye out for her during their routine motorized patrolling, so far they have not been able to spot her, but we are hopeful that once the dry season takes hold again, Shira will return for supplementary feeding. She has always been eager to forego milk in order to resume a wild life again, previously tempted on many occasions to go off with Icholta from Emily’s group.

Currently, 10 young elephants remain at the Voi Stockades in the process of rehabilitation back into the wild community, orphan Shira having recently chosen to attach herself to a wild herd. Although the Keepers have been keeping an eye out for her during their routine motorized patrolling, so far they have not been able to spot her, but we are hopeful that once the dry season takes hold again, Shira will return for supplementary feeding. She has always been eager to forego milk in order to resume a wild life again, previously tempted on many occasions to go off with Icholta from Emily’s group.

Emily and her satellites have returned to the Voi Stockades just once this month, on the 13th, when baby Eve, being wild-born, gave the Keepers quite a run around, whilst Emily kept a close watch on events! Some of the young bulls from Emily’s unit have been spotted away from Emily’s main group, perhaps, being teenagers, encouraged to become more independent, which is normal. Solango turned up alone to join the Keeper Dependent orphans on the 19th, and made himself unpopular by trying to mount the youngsters, prompting the intervention of the Keepers. Kenia voiced her disapproval loud and long but nevertheless the youngsters had to put up with Solango’s company since he returned to the Stockades with them in the evening and would have gone in had the Keepers not barred him!

The Voi unit orphans encountered 2 wild bulls at their noon mudbath on the 1st, with whom they briefly exchanged greetings. A wild cow who had been browsing half way up Mazinga hill, left her group on the l0th to follow the youngsters, but they were in too much of hurry for their milk to bother about her. Two large bulls who appeared at the orphans’ mudbath on the 12th and 23rd were likewise ignored, the orphans too much in awe of them to be tempted to approach.

The daily routine of the Voi group follows the same general routine – a milk feed first thing in the morning upon being let out of their night quarters, with a romp around the compound before heading out to browse during the morning. They then make their way to the mudbath venue of the day, where the midday milk ration awaits them, and following the mudbath (which is dependent upon the temperature of the day), they usually enjoy soil dusting to dry off, before browsing again throughout the afternoon, gradually making their way back to the Stockades in the evening. There another milk feed awaits them before they go in for the night, cut Grewia branches stacked inside to provide a night-time snack of nutritious bark.

Favoured feeding grounds are around, or up, nearby Mazinga Hill, or alternatively down the hill in the main section of the Park. When browsing takes place around the hill, the mudbath and noon milk feed happens back at the Stockades but if browsing takes place down the hill, in the main section of the Park, the orphans enjoy a mud wallow in one of the rain-filled natural waterholes after their noon milk ration. Thereafter they dry off with a dust-bath and rest under shade in the heat of the day, before resuming the afternoon browsing as they make their way back in the evening. The third milk feed of the day awaits them at the Stockades, after which they go inside for the night, with cut browse stacked for their night-time snack.

Mzima and Siria are best friends and pushing mates, always eager to take on each other, whilst Shimba is more of a loner. Lempaute, ever the imp of the group, devised a new trick this month to gain Taveta’s attention. She plucked grass with her trunk and laid it on her back so that he could help himself! Thereafter, Taveta showed his approval by remaining close to her all day. Tassia is Wasessa’s favourite, and should he happen to disappear from her view, she becomes very disturbed. These two are never far apart and Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya are close friends. It is always a great treat to lead the herd, a privilege that has been evenly shared this month between Lesanju, Sinya, Kenia, Mzima and Taveta. All the Voi Unit orphans love their new base, and have thrived, both food and water being abundant all year.

April 2010 day to day

01 Apr

The orphans, led by Lesanju were taken to browse in the main Park. At noon Mzima and Siria enjoyed a pushing match after which Wasessa, Shimba and Sinya having downed their milk enjoyed a rolling session in the mud, but Siria and Mzima were the centre of attention, interlocking trunks and enjoying a highly charged bath until two wild elephant turned up, joining the orphans for a drink, diverting the attention of Siria. The orphans browsed near the waterhole for the remainder of the day.

Siria & Mzima wrestling

Shimba

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