Keepers' Diaries, April 2010

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.

01 April 2010

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.

02 April 2010

On a cloudy day the orphans filed from the Stockades in single file, sheltering under trees when rain began at 11 a.m. Lesanju, Taveta and Siria enjoyed rolling around in the mud, watched by the others, after which Lesanju found a warm rock to lean against. Kenia would have liked to join her, but there was insufficient room for two. None of the orphans were interested in the usual mudbath venue today, having had their fill out in the bush. Shimba led them back to the Stockades in the evening, feeding as they went.

03 April 2010

Having had their morning milk feed the orphans browsed along the southern section of Mazinga hill, gradually making their way to the eastern side. Just before noon the United States envoy and his daughter turned up to see the orphans’ mudbath, and the elephants put on a good show for them, enjoying having an audience. Kenia and Mzima then indulged in a dust-bath before Lesanju led the group towards the northern side of Mazinga hill where they spent the rest of the day, Sinya leading the group back home in the evening.

04 April 2010

The orphans enjoyed their morning milk and some dairy cubes before leaving for the bush, browsing their way to the noon mudbath venue. Shimba was first into the pool, followed by Siria who engaged Kenia in a water game, with Wasessa interacting with little Tassia and Lesanju. Shimba lay on Mzima in the water, which forced Mzima to quit, followed by his friend Siria. Lempaute took Taveta to a fallen tree trunk, so that both could scratch themselves against it, before joining the others browsing, reaching the stockade later in the evening.

05 April 2010

The orphans woke up in a jovial mood and had wonderful stockade games around the compound before heading out. Siria and Mzima instructed little Tassia in soil dusting. At the mudbath Tassia rubbed his rump against Shimba who was lying down, with Mzima swift to do the same against Siria, who got up to retaliate. However, Mzima beat a hasty retreat out of the water, joining the others at the dustbath. The orphans remained feeding near the waterhole for the rest of the day until it was time to return in the evening.

06 April 2010

Today Lesanju led her group high up the southern side of Mazinga hill to feed, coming down to the Stockades for their noon milk feed and mudbath, before returning for the rest of the day. Taveta came down alone 10 minutes ahead of the others at 5 p.m. for his milk.

07 April 2010

The orphans delayed today, playing around the Stockades for quite some time before Shimba called them to order, heading out to browse. They browsed along the eastern side of Mazinga hill for most of the day, took their milk at noon, but decided against a mudbath because it was too cold. Sinya led them back in the evening, Siria and Mzima lagging behind involved in a wrestling game.

08 April 2010

Today the orphans fed on the northern side of the hill until Lesanju led them to the muddy middle waterhole, which is more mud than water, so all emerged plastered in red mud. After a scratch against a fallen tree, the orphans browsed their way back to the Stockades.

09 April 2010

Today the elephants browsed on the lower flatter slopes of Mazinga hill. A morning shower of rain left them un-eager to go to the mudbath, so their noon milk feed was taken to them. In the evening there was competition between Kenia, Tassia and Taveta as to who should lead the column back home, but Mzima saw the advantage and got the prime spot.

10 April 2010

Today, browsing took place on the western side of the hill, Lempaute climbing only half way up whilst the others went further up, collecting her on their way down for their milk feed. All enjoyed games in the mudbath today before returning to the eastern side of the hill. On their way back, a wild cow who was browsing half way up, left her group to follow the orphans, which she did for some distance, but the orphans had their minds on their evening milk ration, and ignored her presence.

11 April 2010

Shimba and Mzima took Tassia into a thicket of creepers, and all enjoyed stuffing this delicious food into their mouths. Wasessa, upon noticing Tassia’s absence, became very disturbed and screamed. This brought Tassia out at the run, comforted by Wasessa who allowed him to suckle her ears. Wasessa adores little Tassia.

12 April 2010

Having taken their milk, Kenia found herself left behind feeding on the Dairy cubes. She bellowed and ran to join them, meeting Lesanju who was on the way back to retrieve her. At the middle waterhole, a wild herd was browsing nearby, but Lesanju avoided them and instead re-routed to the bigger waterhole. After a wallow, they rested under shade until temperatures cooled a little. Siria was the leader this evening on the way back home.

13 April 2010

After their morning milk, and a romp in the yard, Lesanju led her group to the eastern side of Mazinga hill where Wasessa encouraged some to follow her up the hill, which they were reluctant to do, preferring to remain with Lesanju lower down. All enjoyed an active mudbath at noon, and today Mzima was the leader back home. Emily and her group came to the Stockades in the evening after the Keeper dependent orphans had already entered their night Stockade. Emily’s wild-born calf, Eve, charged the Keepers, Emily watching events closely. Having had a hand-out of Copra, Emily took her family away.

14 April 2010

Lempaute led the orphans out this morning in single file behind her, Sinya, who has a soft spot for Tassia, keeping him in front of her. However, Wasessa resented this, and urged Tassia to walk beside her instead. All settled down to feed along the eastern side of Mazinga hill, skipping a mudbath, because it was a cool day.

15 April 2010

Lempaute placed a bunch of grass on her back this morning during Stockade games, which Taveta plucked off and ate every time Lempaute passed him. However, she kept putting more, obviously enjoying the attention this attracted from Taveta. Taveta obviously approved of this “hand-out” and remained close to Lempaute during the morning feeding session, and during the mudbath. Wasessa led the group back in the evening.

16 April 2010

The orphans browsed in the main Park today. Siria tried to entice Mzima into a pushing game, but Mzima ignored the invitation. At the mudbath Sinya enjoyed sitting on Taveta whilst he was taking a soil-bath and Siria and Mzima had their wrestling match actually in the water, and Shimba played with Tassia, both rubbing their trunks along the ground in turn. All were replete by the time they reached the Stockades in the evening.

17 April 2010

Lesanju and Wasessa enjoyed scratching their bodies against a rock near the Stockade compound in the morning before leaving for the main Park. All had a wonderful mudbath followed by a dust-bath and in the evening Taveta led the group back.

18 April 2010

Today, all the orphans concentrated on feeding, with few other diversions. Emily’s group turned up at the Stockades in the late evening, after the Youngsters were already ensconced for the night. They rumbled to one another, exchanging greetings, and Emily’s group left, having had a handout of Copra cake and a drink from the Stockade water trough.

19 April 2010

It was a busy browsing day again, but this time up the hill, so the mudbath took place back at the Stockades when they returned for their noon milk feed. The afternoon was spent browsing along the southern side of the hill where they were joined by Solango, from Emily’s group, who turned up without any other members of that group. He tried to mount the smaller elephants, so the Keepers had to warn him off. Kenia did not approve and screamed loudly, giving him a wide berth for the rest of the afternoon. However, he accompanied the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening, and would have liked to join them actually inside, but the Keepers prevented him from doing so.

20 April 2010

Again the orphans fed along the southern side of Mazinga hill. The day turned hot, so all enjoyed a cooling mudbath at noon, even Sinya, who normally does not like bathing. Mzima and Kenia put on a good show in the mudbath, with Shimba coming third.

21 April 2010

The orphans browsed peaceful until it was time for the mudbath where Mzima and Siria had an amazing pushing match in the pool. Sinya enticed Kenia to a soil bath rather than go in the mud. Having emerged from the mudbath, Siria enjoyed scratching his body against a tree while Mzima tossed a trunkfull of grass on his back. As it was hot, all rested under shade until temperatures fell, and then browsed their way slowly back home in the evening.

22 April 2010

It was a cool day, so the orphans were reluctant to go into the mudbath at noon, although Siria and Wasessa eventually capitulated. However, Siria was annoyed with Mzima for not joining him in the wallow, and engaged Mzima in a tough fight as soon as he came out. The Keepers intervened, but the fight resumed on the way back to the Stockades in the evening.

23 April 2010

A large wild bull passed by the orphans at noon, but the Youngsters were too in awe of him to approach him. The bull drank and splashed water over his body and then ambled off, watched by the orphans.

24 April 2010

On another warm day, there was a great deal of activity at the mudbath with Mzima and Siria kicking one of the water barrels around, and Tassia enjoying a spirited soil dusting session. In the evening they slowly browsed their way back home.

25 April 2010

The usual Stockade Games took place this morning, when Siria climbed over Kenia as she was lying down, calling for the intervention of the Keepers. Siria tried again at the noon mudbath, but Kenia was wise to his trick, and avoided him. Lesanju led the group home in the evening.

26 April 2010

It was a busy feeding day for the orphans, and since it was cool, they decided against a mudbath. Siria lay down today enticing Kenia to climb onto him for a change, which made Mzima very jealous. He moved in a pinned Kenia down using his short tusks. She bellowed, and the Keepers reprimanded Mzima.

27 April 2010

It was a particularly hot day today, so the orphans browsed under shade for the morning. All enjoyed the mudbath until Kenia led the others to the soil dusting venue. Siria and Mzima were busy with their usual pushing games, and it was Shimba who led the group back in the evening.

28 April 2010

Lesanju, Sinya and Lempaute led the orphans to Emily’s erstwhile stockade in which the grass had grown. Siria and Mzima enjoyed their usual pushing match, which tempted Kenia to engage Siria later, a bout she could not win. She screamed loudly and this brought Wasessa at the double to chase off Siria. They browsed along the southern side of the hill during the afternoon, returning to the Stockades for their milk in the evening.

29 April 2010

The orphans fed in the main Park this morning, stuffing their mouths with the white Opomea creeper which is profuse following rain. All enjoyed the noon mudbath, each elephant teaming up with his or her particular friend, with Sinya the centre of attention, occupying the middle of the wallow. Mzima was the leader on the way home today.

30 April 2010

The orphans concentrated on browsing today, since the temperature was conducive being cool. At noon Siria lay down in a thin shallow erosion gulley and experienced some difficulty in extracting himself from it. Lesanju led the group home in the evening.