Keepers' Diaries, April 2014

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The month has seen the orphans in a jovial mood, as every morning they assemble outside their respective stockades to take their morning bottle of milk. Lualeni the orphan zebra tries at this time to engage them in a game but gives up when he sees that he will be ambushed.

The month has seen the orphans in a jovial mood, as every morning they assemble outside their respective stockades to take their morning bottle of milk. Lualeni the orphan zebra tries at this time to engage them in a game but gives up when he sees that he will be ambushed.

Emily’s ex orphan group have not visited the orphans as regularly as the previous month. On a few occasions members from Emily’s ex orphans group have arrived at the stockades after the orphans had left, but still enjoyed a drink and some copra cake before heading out into the park. On the 23rd April, Irima the ex-orphan, who had been missing for some time, was amongst them and the keepers were extremely happy to see that he was well. Irima and Tsavo have become more independent nowadays and both enjoy joining up with other wild bachelors. The ex-orphans enjoy their wrestling games, with Lolokwe often taking on Icholta and Seraa taking on Thoma. On one day, Emily and her group came to the stockade with a young wild teenage bull. The big ex-orphan boys Laikipia and Lolokwe seemed to welcome his presence, but Laikipia was quick to chase him off when the copra handout arrived causing the young bull to break through the fence and take off down the hill. A few days later ex orphans Icholta, Thoma, Mweya and Laikipia came to the stockade again after Lesanju’s group had left. They had a drink and enjoyed a copra cake handout, after which Laikipia tried to mount Mweya and mate her, but was unsuccessful. Icholta came to Mweya’s rescue by engaging Laikipia in a pushing match in order to give Mweya some respite from his escapades.

The ex-orphans kept missing the dependent orphans, arriving only after they had left the stockade compound, but their first encounter with Lesanju’s dependent herd happened on the 8th when Lolokwe was spotted amongst a wild herd and welcomed Lesanju’s group to join them. There was a small wild calf that Kivuko, Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Kihari wanted to touch and kidnap, but its mother was very alert and protective and thwarted all their attempts. Wasessa made sure that her little one Mudanda never came close to the wild herd for fear of losing her and Lesanju finally managed to round her group up when it was time for the mud bath. On the 12th April at the noon wallow, whilst Tassia was playing some rolling games on the water’s edge, several wild elephants came by and took turns having a drink. Mzima was quick to notice their arrival and wanted to join them but did not want to get cut off from the rest of his group. He stood watching two teenage wild bulls play strength testing games before rejoining the orphan group seemingly torn. The orphans also encountered a wild elephant family with a small calf on the 15th April. Mzima and Tassia followed them for a while before rejoining the orphan dependent group.

Ex Orphan Morani joined Lesanju’s group one day as they browsed in the fields. Morani then tried to mount Wasessa which frightened her favorite little calf Mudanda. She hid behind Sinya and Lempaute who were sneaking a peak at what was happening to Wasessa. Morani escorted the youngsters to the noon mud bath and had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games with them before taking them back to the browsing fields. In the evening Emily’s group met up with the youngsters who were on their way to the stockades with Morani.

On the 19th it was ex orphan Icholta who came to join the youngsters at the noon mudbath. She plunged herself into the water and rolled around trying to entice them to play. Lempaute then mimicked Icholta’s movements in the mud wallow much to the Keepers amusement. Emily’s whole ex orphans group arrived soon after the babies had left. They had a lot of fun and their trumpeting enticed Icholta back to rejoin them.

Towards the end of the month Laikipia, Thoma, Mweya and Seraa joined the youngsters in the browsing field before leading them to the middle waterhole where Thoma, Mweya and Seraa joined them in the water. Mweya sat on her bottom, tossing her trunk from side to side touching the youngsters. Emily and the rest of her group were enjoying themselves at the big water hole where they were later rejoined by Laikipia, Thoma, Mweya and Seraa.

Without the ex-orphans group constant presence, Lesanju and Wasessa have been slightly more relaxed this month. This is because of their baby snatching habits which makes Lesanju lead her orphans away from the stockade early to avoid them and Wasessa to be overly protective over little Mudanda. Lesanju is the undisputed matriarch of the orphan group. However, this month she has allowed Sinya and the boys Mzima and Taveta to lead the group out to browse in the fields and Ndii, Naipoki, Panda, Kihari, Ishaq B and even Mbrikiani to lead the way home in the evening, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Even though Wasessa is still very protective over Mudanda she did allow Lempaute and Mudanda to browse together for about an hour on the 3rd April before she charged up to reclaim her. Mudanda has been playing more and has really enjoyed rolling, wallowing and even dustbathing with Ndii, Kihari, Panda and Mbrikiani, though still under Wasessa’s watchful eye. Then on the 21st, Kenia and Lesanju snatched Mudanda away from Wasessa for a feeding session, but it was not long before Wasessa came to retrieve Mudanda.

The warm weather with light rain showers has brought much fun for the orphans who love nothing more than to play with each other in the mud and dust. The boys Tassia, Taveta, Dabassa and Mzima are often engaging each other in wrestling and strength matches, though Layoni occasionally joins in. On the 29th, Tassia and Dabassa engaged each other in a very tough head on encounter at the stockade. Kivuko had to come in and separate the two by lying down between them leaving the two confused as to his intentions. As such they joined the rest of the group who were heading out to the fields.

Rombo is also becoming more playful and mischievous and has engaged Dabassa in some pushing matches whereas the girls Mbirikani, Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Panda prefer to team up for rolling games in soil. On the 16th some of the orphans were playing mimic mounting games in the stockade compound when Rombo ambushed Mbirikani and Kivuko, who were busy drinking water. The two girls had to take cover behind Wasessa for safety. The orphans, just like children, don’t always get along and play nicely. While enjoying some Lucerne, which they all love, Tassia and Layoni got into a fight as Tassia did not want to share. Dabassa intervened, separating the two as there was more than enough Lucerne for them all. The older orphans keep an eye on all the games to make sure they don’t get too rough.

On the 10th April it started to rain which brought much enjoyment as the orphans played in the erosion gullies and had fun sliding down the embankments. Tassia dug his tusks around a rock intent on getting it loose, but was unsuccessful, whilst Layoni and Kivuko rolled and wallowed in the shallow water. The others showcased their expertise in different games whereas Taveta and Rombo played by testing each other’s strength. This was watched over by Lesanju who was quick to break them apart when she thought they were being too rough.

All of the orphans love to have a good mud bath especially Dabassa, Kivuko Kihari, Rombo and Mzima. They always find new ways to have fun in the water at their noon mud bath. On the 4th Lesanju and Lempaute were kept busy by Kivuko who enjoyed rolling and sliding around the mud wallow from one corner to the other. Dabassa then started mimic mounting on top of Layoni which brought all the games in the water to a halt. The next day Lempaute joined Dabassa who excels in bathing games. Kivuko then plunged herself into the water to challenge Dabassa’s wallowing skills. On the 7th, even though it was cold, it was Mbirikani who decided to have a mud bath and she was joined by Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B.

Mbirikani is still much slower than the other orphans due to her leg injury which hasn’t fully healed. Sometimes she falls behind the main group but when they notice they quickly go back to retrieve her. Her best friend Panda often stays back to walk with her.

The month ended with Mbirikani, who has always been quiet, playing a game of hide and seek with her closest friend, Panda. The games were stopped when a troop of baboons arrived which usually results in a much loved chasing and charging game. The orphans charged the baboons and chased them all the way to the middle water hole where they then stopped to enjoy a mud bath. They browsed close to the waterhole until it was time for their noon milk feed. Kenia enjoyed taking the lead in the evening back to the stockade as one month ends another month of fun begins for these young orphans.

April 2014 day to day

01 Apr

All the orphans were in a jovial mood today when they assembled outside their respective stables to take their morning bottle of milk. Lualeni the orphan zebra tried to engage them in a game but gave up when he saw that he would be ambushed. The morning was spent browsing on the foot of the Msinga hill before heading for the noon mudbath where they all had a lot of fun playing in the water. Layoni led the group back to the stockade in the evening.

Orphans browsing on the foot of Msinga hill

Layoni browsing