Keepers' Diaries, April 2013

Voi Reintegration Unit

A very dramatic event for the Voi Orphans this month took place on the 6th, when Emily’s Unit of Ex Orphans joined the Juniors out in the bush and accompanied the Youngsters to the Big Waterhole for a wallow. The Juniors were so enjoying the company of Emily’s Unit that they even forgot about their milk, but just after the Ex Orphans separated from the Juniors, it began to rain, and this so excited the Youngsters that they ran around trumpeting happily During this process they ran into a friendly wild herd which they joined. The rain soon turned into a veritable downpour with claps of loud thunder and terrifying bolts of lightening, scaring all the Elephants and the Keepers alike, who became drenched to the skin. The Orphans panicked and fled in amongst all the wild elephants, so the Keepers were left with no option but to return to the Stockades empty handed, the rain still pouring down. They left the Stockade doors open, hoping that the Orphans would return and that they would find them there in the morning.

01 April 2013

Having enjoyed their morning milk, the Orphans went about their usual Stockade games, Taveta rubbing his body against a rock and then trying to sharpen his tusks, Rombo and Ndii romping around attracting the attention of Wasessa and Lempaute. Once out browsing Tassia and Taveta wrestled and chased one another. It was a hot day, so all enjoyed a noon wallow, Ndii leading the way back in the evening.

02 April 2013

The Orphans concentrated on feeding throughout the morning, before heading single file to the wallow at noon where all had fun although Taveta opted for a dustbath instead, digging up a pile of damp soil with his tusks to spray over himself. This attracted Mzima, who stole up and prodded Taveta from behind in order to take over his pile of damp earth. Meanwhile close friends Rombo and Layoni enjoyed a vigorous rolling and pushing game in the pool. Later all browsed close to the waterhole until it was time to return in the evening.

03 April 2013

Browsing took place on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill today until it was time to head for the mudbath. Meanwhile Shimba, Wasessa, Mzima and Rombo climbed further up the hill, but soon came down bellowing having been scared by some impalas! All had fun in the waterhole, Emsaya, Ndii and Layoni most active, splashing and rolling in the pool. Emsaya and Kivuko then left the wallow to soil bath, overseen by Lesanju. Taveta and Layoni led the others back in the evening.

04 April 2013

After the Orphans had left for the field, a report came in from a tour driver about a baby elephant near the Park airfield on the Voi River Circuit. The Keepers, equipped with all the necessary rescue gear, rushed to the scene and found the lone newborn female calf who was desperately hungry, attempting to suckle everything in sight. She was fed formula milk and water before being loaded onto the Pickup and taken back to the Stockades to await the arrival of the Rescue Plane from Nairobi to take her to the Nursery.

05 April 2013

The Orphans left their Stockades in a jovial mood, Kivuko and Emsaya having had fun chasing the baboons while Tassia and Taveta enjoyed their favourite Pushing pastime. The orphans browsed the western side of Mazinga hill today before heading to the mudbath where they spent an hour before returning to feed for the rest of the day, stuffing as much soft green grass as they could into their mouths. On the way back in the evening the Orphans came across a couple of small rain puddles where they took a cooling wallow reaching the Stockades in the late evening.

06 April 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphan herd came to the Stockades in the morning, and having found that the Juniors had already left, tracked them and joined them out in the bush. When Emily’s group joins the Juniors the Keepers keep their distance. The Juniors greeted the Ex Orphans enthusiastically with trunks up, ears out and happy trumpets and rumbles. At noon all the Elephants headed for the waterhole, the milk dependent babies even missing their milk ration in order to remain with the Ex Orphans. All mingled together until Emily’s group left at 2 p.m. heading for the airfield, while the Juniors browsed the eastern slopes of the hill. It then began to rain which excited the Orphans who ran around happily, trumpeting and screaming until they met up with a friendly wild herd who allowed age-mates to interact. By then the rain was very with thunder and lightening, soaking the Keepers to the skin as they tried to call the Youngsters out of the wild herd, since it was getting dark. However, the Juniors paid no attention so the Keepers, who were also scared by the thunder and lightening, had no choice but return soaking wet and empty-handed leaving the Stockade Gates open in the hopes that the Orphans would return during the course of the night.

07 April 2013

It was a rude shock for the Keepers after a long and sleepless night to find that no Orphans had returned so at first light they set out on foot to search for the Elephants. Meanwhile news was received than an orphaned baby gerenuk was amongst some goats at the Manyani Prison Camp so a vehicle headed off to collect that orphan. Soon the Keepers on foot happened upon Shimba who was in a terrible state having been mauled by a lion, which alarmed the Keepers who separated into three groups. Two escorted Shimba back to the Stockades, the second group used the Vet’s vehicle to drive deep into the Park southwards while the third team went eastwards on foot. Three hours later the foot patrol came across 9 of the older elephants – namely Lesanju, Wasessa, Sinya, Mzima, Lempaute, Tassia, Taveta, Layoni, Kivuko and Rombo, but still 4 babies were missing, Kenia, Ndii, Dabassa and Emsaya. The search was boosted by the Trust Supercub with one Keeper aboard, which had come from the Kuluku H.Q. to assist in the search as well as collect the baby gerenuk. After some time the air team spotted 3 more orphans and radioed their location to the ground team, who eventually caught up with Kenia, Ndii and Dabassa, but Emsaya was not in the group. She was later spotted in a small herd that had 2 calves of her age. She seemed happy to be with this family and even having been called by the Keepers, refused to come, but kept on following the herd. The wild Matriarch was very aggressive, charging the vehicle every time it came close to try and isolate Emsaya. Buzzing the herd from the air also failed, so in the end the Keepers had to give up and return with the other elephants back to the Stockades. There Shimba’s wounds were cleaned and green clay applied after which he was left to rest in the large Invalid Enclosure where other injured Elephants such as Solango and Ndara have remained to recuperate. It had been a very dramatic day!

08 April 2013

First thing in the morning Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute and Wasessa ran to Shimba’s enclosure to check on him. They fondled him and rumbled reassuringly as they concentrated on the injuries to his ears and neck, and other deep bites around his back and legs. The elephants were fearful about leaving the Stockade compound today, after yesterday’s experience, but the Keepers escorted them to feed nearby, Lesanju insisting on passing by Shimba’s enclosure to wish him well as they headed out. The orphans returned to the Stockades to quench their thirst and for the babies to get their milk but then fed around the Malaika House for the remainder of the day. Meanwhile, Emsaya remained reluctant to return during a second attempt to try and get her back by calling her from the wild herd and showing her a bottle of milk.

09 April 2013

On their way to browse west of the hill the Orphans were joined by a herd of impalas. After their departure, Emily’s Ex Orphans turned up and spent only about 15 minutes there before heading out again. Meanwhile Lesanju, Tassia and Mzima led the other orphans up the hill behind the Malaika house where is a lot of foot for them and they feel at ease, safe from the lions. Kenia, Ndii, Tassia and Taveta spend a long time admiring a beautiful flower that they came across. This is the fourth day that Emsaya has been absent, the Keepers left with no option but do their best to try and monitor her progress with her new adopted wild herd.

10 April 2013

It was a treat for Panda to share the morning supplements with her older friends, reaching her trunk through from the other side of the electric wire where she is safe from being shoved and pushed by the greedy boys. Meanwhile Shimba is nursing his wounds, enjoying milk and supplements plus plenty of cut greens and water provided for him, with the Keepers and the other elephants keeping a close watch over him. His close friends Mzima, Taveta and Tassia are regular visitors to his Enclosure and never miss an opportunity to be with him. When it was time to leave for the bush Tassia led the others west of the Park for the day’s browsing, the orphans reluctant to go eastwards after Shimba’s lion incident.

11 April 2013

Panda is Shimba’s newfound friend, for she prefers to browse near the Headquarters with Lualeni, her zebra friend, checking up on Shimba in between whiles. Sinya led the other orphans to Mazinga hill where they settled to browse the west side. At the hill Lempaute, Mzima, Tassia, Rombo and Layoni split from the others to climb higher up, the boys going higher and higher until Lempaute decided to come back down. The boys browsed high up the hill coming down to the Stockades for their milk and to take water, spending about an hour fraternizing with Shimba.

12 April 2013

Having taken their supplements and remained for a photo session, the Orphans went out to browse as usual, still keeping close to the Stockades. The Vet attached to the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit returned from leave and came to assess the state of Shimba’s lion mauls. He decided to immobilize him so that the wounds could be thoroughly cleaned out, which took about an hour, after which Shimba was revived and immediately walked to take water. Panda came to check on him, and joined him feeding on the greens provided in his Enclosure, remaining with him until the other Orphans returned in the evening. Also during the day one of our hand-reared kudus named Mkuki returned for a visit and spent about an hour feeding around the yard.

13 April 2013

During the usual Stockade Games in the yard, Lualeni the orphaned zebra caused a stir by running and scaring the elephants except Kenia, who was with Shimba, took off in unison pushing and shoving in their haste. In fact the zebra was just excited to have the around and only wanted to play! The Keepers had a difficult time to calm them down. Emily’s group then arrived and spent a long time focused on injured Shimba who was in his Stockade, rumbling to him and reaching their trunks through to touch him gently, and inspect his injuries further.

14 April 2013

The day began with Shimba having his wounds dressed as usual and although painful, Shimba understands that the Keepers are only trying to help him, and does not resist. Antibiotic Spray and another layer of Green Clay is what is applied each morning when the Vet comes to check on his progress. The rest of the herd, still avoiding the eastern side of the hill, went up behind the Malaika house where they are sure of their safety. Lesanju and Tassia led the orphans to where there was a lot of vegetation, and since it was a cool day, they did not need to go to the mudwallow. At 11 a.m. the milk dependent babies came down to take their milk, after which Kenia led them back to join the others up the hill. Tassia climbed higher up where he used to browse with Shimba, while the rest remained together until it was time to return in the evening.

15 April 2013

Most of the babies waited patiently for their milk and supplements but the older elephants Lesanju, Wasessa, Sinya and Lempaute paced up and down. The baboons then arrived and Tassia attempted to chase them off. When the Copra cake came out, the Keepers had to stand guard to prevent the older group snatching the babies’ share, while the male baboons who tried to sneak behind the elephants got sorted out by the young bulls, Tassia, Taveta and Dabassa gulping down their share quickly in order to deal with the baboons! The Orphans no longer want to go deep into the Park, but prefer to remain close to the Stockades, that fearful night still very much in their mind. Meanwhile Shimba and Panda have become close friends, and walk together between the Stockades and the Malaika house, often with Lualeni the zebra in tow.

16 April 2013

The orphans came to rumble to Shimba in his Stockade before enjoying their supplements. Panda joined Shimba in his Enclosure to share his hand-out, thereby avoiding the noisy boys who become greedy at such times. Having taken their supplements, Wasessa played a rolling game, which attracted Panda who climbed onto her back, swinging her trunk happily. Wasessa is paying more attention to Panda and has become less possessive and selfish since the absence of her favourite baby, Emsaya. For the first few days after the loss of Emsaya Wasessa head butted the boys and disobeying the Keepers, but everyone understood the reason that she was so upset. She mourned the loss of Emsaya for about a week, but then gave up when she realized that her baby was not going to return. The Keepers wished she could understand that her baby was safe and lucky to have not ended up like Shimba!

17 April 2013

Once the Orphans had finished their handout, and passed by Shimba, they left for the field, Lesanju and Lempaute at the rear of the column, and the Keepers behind them. Today they plucked up sufficient courage to go quite deep into the Park, keeping close together and looking up to check on where their Keepers were. At noon the Orphans enjoyed a brief wallow and their milk before returning to feed again, the Boys leading the others closer to Mazinga Hill in order to access the Stockades before dusk, Tassia and Kivuko pausing at a small puddle on the way where all sprayed water over themselves briefly before resuming the journey home.

18 April 2013

The Orphans split into two groups this morning, Lesanju taking half the herd to inspect Emily’s old Enclosure while Wasessa escorted the rest towards Mazinga hill, waiting for Lesanju to catch up on the way. Tassia and Taveta browsed between the rocks while the others focused on the base of the hill. Meanwhile Shimba, who is now allowed to browse close by, limped to pass through a small thicket behind the Malaika House to brush insects off his wounds where they gather despite the antibiotic spray and green clay. Panda is always near him to ensure that he is alright.

19 April 2013

The Orphans had a wonderful time playing in the yard after their supplements, indulging in rolling, pushing, dusting and charging games before heading out, initially in an easterly direction, but then changing their minds and heading to the hill, Dabassa and Layoni leading with Lesanju in the middle and Lempaute at the rear to make sure that babies such as Kivuko and Rombo are not left behind. Meanwhile Shimba is still soldiering on but has lost a lot of weight.

20 April 2013

While Shimba took his milk, another Keeper anointed his wounds. Suddenly noticing that Shimba was being treated to milk, Big Girls Wasessa, Lempaute and Kenia thought they qualified for some as well and wanted to grab Shimba’s bottle, but there was no way he was giving it up, and with help from a Keeper, the Big Girls were held at bay! Meanwhile Kivuko found herself butted from behind by Layoni and Rombo who were playing chasing games around the compound. In retaliation she charged Layoni, who took shelter behind a rock. Lesanju and Tassia then led the group out to browse. Shortly after they had left, Emily’s group turned up in the compound, picking over the supplement leftovers. They followed the Juniors, but noticing that they were high up the hill went instead to the Centre mudbath where they all wallowed. It was a cooler day, so the Juniors concentrated on feeding and only had a brief wallow.

21 April 2013

The Juniors headed out into the Park, no longer so daunted that they dare not do so. Two Keepers walked the Orphans, while the rest remained behind because the Vet was coming to check again on Shimba’s wounds. The Vet sedated him again to flush out the wounds thoroughly. He was optimistic that Shimba would recover completely in the fullness of time. Shimba was sedated for about an hour before being woken up again.

22 April 2013

The Orphans emerged happily from their Stables, and took their supplements in an orderly manner, Panda walking along the fence scooping trunkfuls from each pile. Having finished, the Orphans went about their normal games, Rombo and Layoni again chasing one another around the compound, and charging the baboons. Later all headed to the Hill to browse, feeding first at the base and gradually working their way to the top. At 3 p.m. they began coming down and by the time they reached the Stockades it was 5 p.m. and after having their milk and taking water, it was time to go in for the night.

23 April 2013

Shimba now enjoys joining his friends at the Stockade water trough and interacting with them before they move on out. Whilst taking the morning supplements Wasessa took to head butting the younger elephants, and was cautioned by the Keepers. Later Dabassa charged up and down the compound joined by his friend Layoni. Once out in the field, Emily’s Unit joined the Juniors, and remained with them for only a short time before moving off.

24 April 2013

After taking supplements, Shimba and Panda went to browse as usual round the Malaika House while Lesanju led her unit out eastwards, no longer fearful of lions. There is food and water in abundance following the rain, and there were wild herds near to where the Orphans settled to browse. A family of wild elephants passed close by and Tassia and Taveta rushed forward to meet them, but were warned off by the Matriarch, who emitted a low rumble before charging them with ears out. Tassia and Taveta took off at speed, bellowing for help, but the Older Orphans were reluctant to become involved. The Matriarch stopped when she saw the other Orphans who were also ready to run. As she was walking back to her group Lesanju and Wasessa walked forward to calm the boys, after which they all continued to feed. Kenia led the other milk dependents to have their milk at 11 a.m. and then as all were having fun in the waterhole 2 wild adult Elephant cows arrived and joined the Orphans in the water. Later the Orphans came out for a dustbath, and the two wild visitors went on their way.

25 April 2013

Layoni, Rombo and Kenia climbed the eastern side of the hill today to browse. Just before the noon mudbath Tassia and Taveta played a wrestling game while Mzima encouraged Layoni and Rombo to go higher up the hill, but the younger boys had their mind on their milk. When Mzima realized he would be left alone and knowing what the lions did to his friend Shimba, he ran to catch up with the others who were almost at the waterhole, where Wasessa demonstrated her skills, impressing all the others who tried to emulate her. Mzima and Rombo were last to come out while the others were already soil dusting, Tassia and Layoni digging up soft soil from the banks. A herd of wild elephants then emerged from the bushes and Lesanju rushed up to meet this friendly herd, whom the Orphans obviously knew well and whom they escorted to bathe. Meanwhile, back at the Stockades Edie turned up with a Splinter Group of Ex Orphans to have a drink at the Stockade trough. Mweya, Seraa and Icholta remained around the trough for some time while Edie and her baby enjoyed a dustbath near the fence.

26 April 2013

Ex Orphan Lolokwe visited the Stockades very early in the morning, before the Juniors had been let out of their Night Stockades and watched the Keepers enjoy their morning tea. As soon as the Stockade doors were opened, the babies came rushing out to get their milk, and then headed for the Copra handout. After the usual Stockade games, Lesanju led her group out to browse. At 11 a.m. Tassia, Ndii, Kenia and Taveta led the babies to their milk, and then to the waterhole where they were joined by the others, who stood on the edge splashing mud and water over their bodies before getting in. Kivuko submerged completely while Wasessa again put on a good show, running around the pool kicking the water up using her front legs and trunk. As usual, Mzima was last out, long after the others had completed their dust bath.

27 April 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphan group arrived at the Stockades in the early hours of the morning, in order to be there for the morning Supplement hand-out. When the Juniors noticed that the Ex Orphans were there to monopolize the handout, they left knowing that there would be a lot of competition. Icholta then left the Ex Orphan group to escort the Juniors to the slopes of Mazinga hill behind Emily’s old enclosure. Shimba limped out past some of the Ex Orphans as they were feeding. Instantly Laikipia, Ndara and Mweya watched him walk past and knew that he had problems. Mweya immediately ran to where Icholta and the babies were browsing, rumbled to Icholta, who immediately began to return, leaving Mweya in charge of the Youngsters. Also interested in Shimba’s condition, Edie and Icholta followed him, joined by Laikipia and the other Ex Orphans, all obviously anxious about Shimba’s wounds. Meanwhile Edie’s baby, Ella, happily enjoyed playing with Seraa, who loves the baby very much and is a very competent Nannie, so much so that Edie often doesn’t seem to even bother about where her baby is, confident that she is in good care. Ndara is now doing very well having recovered from her arrow wounds and has put on condition. Lesanju and the Juniors returned to the Stockades, escorted back by Sweet Sally. Taveta spotted Emily’s calf, Eve standing between Sally and a rock and squeezed through the gap to give little Eve a hard shove from the back. This sent Eve running off down the hill, Taveta after her bent on mimic mounting, but Sweet Sally followed both at speed, and put herself between the two when the caught up with them. Meanwhile, Emily seemed unconcerned, concentrating on trying to show Mzima how to take on a bigger opponent. Tsavo then turned up only to find the Copra handout gone. The Ex Orphans then departed, and after taking his morning milk at 8 a.m., Shimba joined his little friend Panda, while the others went about their day as usual.

28 April 2013

As Shimba was having his morning milk, his Junior peers left the Copra handout to come and check on him, rumbling greetings and lovingly laying their trunks across his back. Once the Juniors had vacated the water trough having quenched their thirst, Lualeni the zebra foal rushed in to take a drink. Wasessa then walked Panda to her usual browsing spot near the Malaika house, and having seen her safely there, went back to join the others who were heading towards the western slopes of Mazinga hill, where they joined the friendly herd of impalas who often spend the night near the Stockade compound, knowing they are safer there.

29 April 2013

Shimba’s wounds are healing well, the one on his face during fast, while the leg wounds are taking more time due to movement at the knee joint. He is enjoying his milk and extra supplements as well as the greens that are cut for him daily. Icholta visited the Stockades early in the morning to check on the babies, but missing out on the handout of Copra which had already been finished. She walked over to Mzima and engaged him in a friendly wrestling match. Mzima was unsuccessful in trying to move the Big girl, so she lay down so that he could climb onto her, which pleased him enormously. Eventually Icholta left, and Lesanju led her group out to browse the slopes of Mazinga Hill and enjoy the waterhole at noon as usual.

30 April 2013

This morning Tassia and Rombo had a vigorous Pushing Match which prompted Mzima to engage Taveta walking over to him with his trunk curled under his chin. Mzima immediately accepted the challenge. Later Lesanju led the Orphans out at usual. At around 9.45 a.m. Emily’s group turned up to join the orphans out in the field, all browsing together until it was the mudbath hour when the Ex Orphans chose to head to the Middle Wallow while the Youngsters went to the big waterhole as usual. There the babies were enjoying themselves when Emily’s gang turned up again, heading first to the drinking bins, which had been emptied by the Junior group. Dabassa rushed up to greet them and escorted them to the waterhole. When Lesanju saw the Seniors approaching, she and some of the Juniors vacated the pool in a hurry, leaving it free for the bigger elephants but Mzima, Dabassa and Kivuko decided to remain behind and play with the older Ex Orphans. Rombo attempted a Pushing Match with Mweya in the pool, but when he saw her long sharp tusks, he thought better of it and turned away, though not before Mweya gave him a prod with her tusks. He ran away bellowing and as soon as Mzima saw this, he moved in to tackle Mweya backed up by Rombo who came in on the side of his friend. Everyone had a lot of fun. Morani came late to the waterhole with a wild friend, just as the others were about to leave. Icholta kicked all the drinking bins around, displaying frustration at finding them emptied.