Keepers' Diaries, April 2011

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Voi Reintegration Unit

A great sadness for the Voi Elephant Keepers was finding one of the two orphaned ostriches they had so painstakingly hand-reared, dead, when they opened up the stable on the l9th. The Vet undertook a post mortem to try and determine the cause of such a mysterious demise, and attributed it to a possible snake bite.

A great sadness for the Voi Elephant Keepers was finding one of the two orphaned ostriches they had so painstakingly hand-reared, dead, when they opened up the stable on the l9th. The Vet undertook a post mortem to try and determine the cause of such a mysterious demise, and attributed it to a possible snake bite.

There is concern over Dida, who is not thriving as she should, and is in poor condition in spite of nutritional supplementation. She has a bloated malnourished look and is very slow. Others like her, who were drought and well victims, have suffered similar symptoms after having reached the age of two years.

Very heartwarming has been the miraculous healing of Solango’s seriously damaged hind leg. After some 4 months of rest, and care within his old Stockade compound after he managed to struggle back to the Voi Stockades on 3 legs, dragging the damaged hind leg accompanied by Burra from Emily’s now wild group, he can now get around again, albeit still with a limp.

During his convalescence Solango formed a strong bond of friendship with the Youngsters, who visited him in his enclosure every day before heading out to browse in the early morning, and again when they returned in the evening. Siria became attached to him. Ex Orphan Matriarch, Emily, and her entourage also periodically came to visit him during his “hospitalization” period in the same way that human friends and family visit their loved ones in hospital!

Solango is now out of his enclosure, dividing his time between his peer group of Ex Orphans and the 12 Keeper dependent Youngsters led by Lesanju. This month Emily has visited the Voi Stockades frequently, on the 2nd with Solango trailing who was being kept company by Icholta. However, the next morning Solango joined the Youngsters out in the bush on his own, warmly welcomed by Siria and Wasessa. He went with them to their noon mudbath and was with them when they returned in the evening, parting from them only when they reached the Spring Gates near the Stockades.

The very next morning he surprised the Youngsters by suddenly quietly appearing in their midst as they were concentrating on their early morning supplements prior to leaving the Stockades, and was welcomed joyously by them all. He went with them as far as Mazinga Hill but opted not to accompany them to the Northern slopes of the hill. He was back amongst Emily’s group when she came to the Stockades on the 9th, when he refused the challenge of a Pushing Match with Lolokwe - a privilege only afforded Junior Siria in his fragile state. Wisely he obviously does not yet feel up to taking on someone of his own age.

Mpala from Emily’s unit accompanied him when he came to the Stockades on the 11th but was back amongst Emily’s entire unit the next day when they all shared time with the Youngsters. On this occasion the Youngsters were allowed to play with little Eve (Emily’s calf) but only under the very close supervision of Nannies Ndara and Sweet Sally. When Eve tired and decided to take a nap, Ndara was careful to keep the baby between her forelegs to ensure that she was not disturbed and when Emily decided to leave, taking Eve and most of her group with her, Solango remained behind with Burra, Thoma, and Irima, all of whom kept the babies company until noon.

Solango and Irima were the early callers of the next day, patiently standing behind the Youngsters as they took their morning milk and later spending time with them out in the bush before leaving. However, Solango returned alone to meet up with Youngsters out in the bush the next day, shared their mudbath with Lempaute, Lesanju and Dida opting to remain spectators rather than join the elephant jumble in the large waterhole! Lesanju has never been over eager to share her time, or her unit, with either the Ex Orphans or the wild herds for that matter, enjoying being the main dude of her Junior group and not wishing to step down for an older female.

Solango had Thoma and Mpala with him when he again joined the Youngsters’ at their noon mudbath on the 18th. Then, after an absence of several days, he was amongst Emily’s group when they visited the Stockades on the 27th . Not amongst the group on this occasion was Edie (and her calf, Ella) along with some of the other Ex Orphan members of Emily’s group. However, Edie and Ella plus those absent the previous day turned up at the Stockades the next day and spent time with the Juniors.

Emily has visited the Stockades frequently throughout the month, not always meeting up with the Juniors when she does so. However, she and her group enjoy a hand-out of Copra coconut waste and Lucerne designed to anchor them within the Park and keep them away from the ranches where she, and the wild elephants are always at risk. She was at the Stockades with Icholta on the 2nd, again with her whole group (including Solango) on the 6th and on the 7th brought a wild teenage bull with her group. She returned on the 8th (this time without the teenage wild bull) and visited the stockades again on the 9th with Solango. She intermingled with the Juniors on the south side of Mazinga hill on the 10th and was again at the Stockades (with Solango) and her group on the 12th; the 17th, the 21st (when she interacted with the Juniors), and again on the 22nd , Edie and her calf amongst the group, on the 27th along with Eve and Solango, Sweet Sally, Loisaba and Vita with other members of her group missing. However, the missing members turned up the next day with Edie and her calf, when Siria and Wasessa were tempted to follow the Ex Orphan group as they were leaving, but were called back by the Keepers.

On the 29th Icholta and Mweya came alone to the Stockades and accompanied the Youngsters high up the hill to browse. They remained with them until the afternoon.

The 12 Voi Keeper Dependent Youngsters have greatly enjoyed time shared with Solango this month, and interacted with Emily’s unit as well as the Splinter Group led by Edie. All this has been very good for them.

April 2011 day to day

01 Apr

Light showers enhanced the mood of the Orphans, who enjoyed playing in the damp earth. Lesanju led her group to the noon mudbath, where playful wrestling took place – Tassia took on his great rival Taveta while Mzima engaged Siria and Lesanju played with Sinya. They browsed close to the waterhole for the rest of the day before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

Lesanju and the others at the mudbath

Taveta scratching after the mudbath