Keepers' Diaries, April 2017
Voi Reintegration Unit
The rain was slow to arrive in the Voi area and it was only towards the end of the month that the cloud cover eventually started to give way to small showers; enough to wet the earth and moisten the grass which the orphans enjoyed feeding on the next day. During cold days they had avoided the mud bath but whenever there was any sunshine, they were straight into the mud to enjoy a happy bath.
01 April 2017
It was a lovely morning with the sun’s rays hitting the stockades just as the orphans were leaving their night quarters to begin their day. The stockade dependant orphans concentrated on their usual morning feeding activities before engaging in some amazing hide and seek games around the stockade compound.
Nguvu had a lovely time lying on the soft soil piles of soil brought in by the stockade construction team but had to be moved as the team needed the soil to carry out their work. Nguvu saw Nelion and Mashariki following him closely wanting to engage him in strength testing and pushing games. He was however not in the mood to play with them and thus avoided all their advances.
Kivuko arrived alone at the stockades half an hour after Kenia’s herd had left. She had a drink at the stockade water trough before heading off in the same direction as that taken earlier by the orphans.
The day was spent browsing with the orphan herd stopping only to visit the middle waterhole at noon where they drank their milk before quickly splashing themselves with water after which they continuing with their browsing activities.
02 April 2017
It was once again a wonderful morning with the stockade dependant orphans peacefully downing their milk bottle after which Kihari, Panda and Mashariki engaged the others in a game of hide and seek at the stockade compound before taking off to the browsing fields.
As the group made their way towards the waterhole in the afternoon, Mudanda got mistakenly left behind and she came running up to rejoin the group. At the mud bath Kenia had a lovely bathing moment with Ndii and Naipoki while Mbirikani and Ishaq-B enjoyed a buttock rubbing game on the walls of the waterhole.
Lentili was busy admiring Panda’s rolling games in the dustbath. After the noon activities the orphans headed to the northern side of Msinga Hill where they spent the afternoon browsing until it was time to make their way back to the stockades for the night.
03 April 2017
The morning was perfect with the orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding, after which they enjoyed a brief playing session before taking off to the browsing fields.
Ajali had a wonderful moment scratching his body against an outcropping rock at the stockade compound before following the others. Naipoki took the browsing leadership today, favouring the far northern sides of Msinga Hill. Kihari and Kenia brought up the rear, making sure that all the orphan elephants were happy and safe. The orphans had a lovely time playing in the mud bath at noon.
In the evening the orphans came back running back to the stockades in groups of five where they downed an evening milk bottle before assembling around the stockade water trough to drink some water. Nelion, who was very thirsty, bent himself over the trough and was drinking water with his mouth rather than using his trunk. Mudanda was surprised with his tactic and thinking he was doing it wrong, kept bumping him to get him to stop what he was doing and drink properly.
04 April 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the orphans coming out of their stables in high spirits. Kenia took charge today and led the orphan herd towards the browsing grounds after all the milk and supplement feeding was over.
Soon after they arrived at the browsing grounds, Layoni arrived and joined the orphan group. Kenia does not seem to mind having Layoni with her herd as he keeps a low profile and leaves the leadership roles to hear and Ndii. Layoni spent the whole day browsing with them, and followed them back to the stockades in the evening.
Kivuko once again came to the stockades and stood close to the milk bottles that had been left out for the orphan group. The juniors came running up behind her for their milk, not even having noticed Kivuko. Their sudden arrival gave her a fright and she moved away. It was not long before she came back and started to try and steal Rorogoi’s milk as the keepers were feeding her.
Kivuko and Layoni later left the stockade two hours later headed for the park and the browsing fields.
05 April 2017
The orphans had a wonderful and perfect browsing moment today spreading out all over the field to grab as much browse as they could as it is very dry in Tsavo with the drought still hitting the area hard.
The orphans later made their way to the middle water hole in groups of five. After the milk feeding they were undecided as to whether or not to have a mud bath. Kihari and Rorogoi decided that they would have a wallow and plunged into the water while the others stood around watching their antics and games. Mbirikani kept touching the water to test the temperature but was not brave enough to join Kihari and Rorogoi. When the two exited the water the orphans all enjoyed a dust bath.
The rest of the day was spent browsing with Lentili and Mashariki taking the lead of the orphans towards the stockades in the evening.
06 April 2017
The morning was good with Kenia breathing a sigh of relief about the fact that Lesanju’s herd didn’t visit the stockades at all this week. The stockade dependant orphans had their milk and supplement feeding before making their way to the browsing fields.
Rorogoi and Embu were in the lead today, traversing several browsing routes in search of greens to feed on. Bada does not seem to want to accept the fact that he is Ajali’s junior and decided to engage Ajali in a strength testing game which came to a premature end when Tundani, who was refereeing the game, followed the rest of the group that was leaving for the water hole.
At the waterhole the orphans had their milk and then drank some water. Panda and Kihari were the only ones to try to have a mud bath but found that due to the cold weather the water was cold too and they quickly abandoned the idea.
07 April 2017
It was a wonderful morning with the earliest caller of the stockade being Kivuko who came alone to join the stockade dependant orphans for some copra cake. Kenia wanted to leave the stockades before Kivuko was done feeding and tried to sneak away hoping that Kivuko would remain behind. This however did not happen and Kivuko followed the orphan herd to the browsing fields and spent the whole day with them.
It was evident today that Nguvu has formed a connection with Araba and has a soft spot for her. He enjoyed spending some time browsing close to Araba while Kenia kept an eye on the situation to ensure that Nguvu did not steal her baby.
Today Kenia was a little upset about Kivuko’s presence and took her anger out on some of the other orphans buy engaging Kihari, Ajali and Nguvu in pushing and strength testing games, which is not like her at all.
As the weather was cold and it was overcast none of the orphans entered the water at the noon milk feed and mudbath. After the orphans had downed their milk they drank from the water troughs before spending the afternoon browsing close to the wallow. Kivuko returned to the stockades with the orphan group where she joined Layoni who was already at the stockade feasting on Lucerne.
08 April 2017
It was good beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplement foods before heading out to the browsing grounds.
The morning was perfect with Layoni and Kivuko leaving the other members of their herd and coming down Msinga Hill to greet the stockade dependant orphans who were happily playing at the stockade compound. Lentili and Embu maintained a low profile during the games while the others played a hide and seek game.
Nelion and Bada led the rest to Msinga Hill to browse after all the feeding and playing activity was over. Naipoki and Kihari remained at the cross road, undecided as to whether to follow them uphill or not. The rest of day was spent browsing peacefully on the lower flat areas of Msinga Hill.
09 April 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants moving to the browsing grounds as soon as the milk and supplement feeding was over.
After they had left, Ndara, Neptune, Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute, Dabassa, Kivuko, Tassia and Taveta arrived to drink water from the stockade water trough. They had a wonderful moment drinking water with Lesanju and Sinya having a soft spot for Neptune. Ndara was very attached to her baby and as such did not make it easy for Lesanju and Sinya to interact with him. While Ndara was busy feeding on lucerne grass, Lesanju was able to get a little alone time with Neptune. The Ex Orphan group remained at the stockade for about an hour before returning to the park.
Other members of Emily’s herd as well as the few missing members of Lesanju’s herd were not seen today.
10 April 2017
The stockade dependant orphans drank their milk and enjoying some supplement feeding before engaging in various games at the stockade compound. Suswa welcomed her long time friend Arruba in sorting the baboon menace by charging at them preventing their entry into the stockade compound.
Ishaq-B and Mashariki enjoyed the lead of the orphan herd to the browsing grounds where they settled to feed. At 9.30am, Wasessa and Rombo, in the company of a teenage wild elephant calf, were seen browsing towards the Voi River without the other members of Lesanju and Emily’s herds. The three seem to be comfortable to be around one another. Kenia made a huge screaming protest on seeing them, but the three never bothered to come and join the juniors which left Kenia and Ndii very relieved.
The orphans visited the middle water hole where they had a lot of fun in mud bathing games, with the final browsing session taking place close to the water pool.
11 April 2017
The morning was beautifully bright with the stockade dependant orphans leaving the stockade as soon as they had finished their milk bottle and supplement foods. They travelled to the far northern side of the stockade to browse before making their way to the middle water hole. Ndoria was unable to keep up with the pace that Rorogoi was setting and kept grabbing her tail in an effort to slow her down but was unsuccessful in doing so.
Nelion went to engage Embu in a wrestling match, but was ignored by Embu who did not feel like playing. At the mudbath Bada enjoyed some wonderful scratching games on the waterhole walls showing off for Ajali who was bathing close to him.
Later in the afternoon, the stockade dependant orphan elephants headed back to the browsing fields under the leadership of Mbirikani and Tundani. Kivuko was seen moving at the base of the hill towards the air strip. Lentili went down to meet her but was unable to catch up with her older friend. Layoni was also seen following Kivuko at a distance to the same browsing area.
12 April 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing happily at the stockade compound following the milk and supplement feeding. Lesanju’s herd together with Ndara and Neptune caught up with them at the stockade giving Kenia, Ndii and Naipoki little time to get away, as the junior orphans immediately fell in love with the little Neptune. Rorogoi and Embu approached to greet them while Lentili secured the opportunity to play with little Neptune.
They then all went to the browsing grounds with Ndara being followed by the juniors. Lesanju was bumper to bumper with Ndara waiting to see if she would get a chance to steal Neptune for a bit. Ndara and Lesanju’s herd later went towards the Mzima-Mombasa water pipe line to browse as the juniors headed to the middle water hole.
13 April 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the orphans coming out of their stables in high spirits. Kenia took charge of the group and led the orphan herd towards the browsing grounds after all the milk and supplement feeding was done.
Soon after they arrived at the browsing grounds, Kivuko came and joined the stockade dependant orphans. Kenia was not worried about having Kivuko interacting with them as he always leaves the leadership roles to Kenia and Ndii.
The orphans had a wonderful bathing moment after the afternoon milk bottle with Mbirikani introducing the others to an amazing sliding game on the soil piles around the water hole. Tundani, who has been always suspicious of Ajali’s strength, went and engaged him in a tough wrestling match a few minutes before the group headed back to the stockades for the night.
Kivuko spent the whole day browsing with the orphan group but did not join them when they left for the stockades.
14 April 2017
The morning was good with all the stockade dependant orphan elephants following the milk and supplement feeding routine before heading to the browsing grounds where they fed in single file for four hours.
Ndara, Neptune and Lesanju’s herd were seen browsing three hundred meters away from the stockade dependant orphan elephants. Lesanju has been making a lot of effort to secure a nanny position with Ndara for little Neptune.
The orphans visited the middle water hole at noon but didn’t have a chance to catch up with the Ex Orphans who had already moved away. In the evening, the stockade dependant orphan elephants shied away from a wild herd that passed close to them. One big female wild elephant matriarch had some thin but very long tusks which scared the orphans and prevented them from joining the wild elephant family.
15 April 2017
The stockade dependant orphans enjoyed the early morning sun shine as they assembled for their supplement feeding. Araba enjoyed snuggling up to Kenia for warmth when feeding while Mudanda, Bada and Ishaq-B opted for a rock scratching game.
Naipoki led them towards the browsing grounds where they had a brief interaction with some impalas. Today Mbirikani disobeyed the age bracket, and took the lead for a noon milk bottle at the middle water hole, something normally reserved for babies that are younger than her.
The orphans had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games with Arruba and Suswa teaming up for a wonderful dusting game after the mud bath. Mbirikani became engaged in a massive bathing competition with Mudanda and Nelion before joining the others for the afternoons browsing session.
On the way to the stockades in the evening, Nguvu who was leading, by-passed Lesanju and Ndara’s herd without even stopping to greet them. The others followed suit and it was not long before they were all enjoying a delicious evening milk bottle at the stockades.
16 April 2017
It was a beautiful sunny morning with the orphan elephants coming out of their night quarters in a happy mood running around as they assembled for a morning milk bottle. While running for her milk, Embu nearly fell when she stumped her front foot against Rorogoi.
Once out in the park Arruba, Mashariki and Suswa took to their private browsing ground away from the other orphans. They fed together for about an hour before rejoining the group. The orphans visited the water hole at noon but didn’t wallow in the water as the sun was being covered by clouds turning the weather cold.
In the evening, Nelion tried to engage Tundani in a wrestling match. Tundani ignored his advances as he was busy browsing, wanting to eat as much vegetation as he could before returning to the stockades for the night.
A wild elephant family visited the stockade water trough in the evening once the orphans were in their quarters. Ishaq-B and Kihari greeted them with deep rumbles and outstretched trunks.
17 April 2017
It was a cool beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphans running for a morning milk bottle before heading to browse on copra cake and lucerne grass.
They spent the morning browsing peacefully before heading to the middle water hole at noon.
On the way to the water hole, they encountered a wild elephant family resting under an acacia tree but by-passed them as the afternoon milk bottle was foremost on their minds.
Later in the afternoon an orphan elephant was found with the aid of the Trust’s aircraft and a rescue team from the Voi stockades was mobilized. He was found wondering alone and was very thin and thirsty and once rescued was placed onto the stockade canter as he was a little too big to fit onto the pick- up. The orphan was brought to the Voi stockade and placed in the taming pens. The orphan was called Pasaka.
18 April 2017
The orphans had a wonderful and perfect browsing moment today as they spread out all over the field, grabbing as much browse as they could with the drought still being in effect over the entire Tsavo East area.
The orphans later marched to the middle water hole where they enjoyed a milk bottle. They avoided having a mudbath as the water was quite cold. Mudanda decided to be brave and plunged into the water enjoying a private bath while the others stood around watching her. She later came out and enjoyed a soil bathing game. Panda tested the temperature of the water but found it too cold to go in.
In the afternoon a single wild elephant cow and her calf who was of similar age to the orphans, joined them for a browsing session which lasted for more than half an hour. Lentili and Arruba followed them for a short distance when they left before rejoining the others. Kihari and Naipoki took the lead of the orphan herd in the evening.
19 April 2017
The day started well with the orphan elephants drinking a morning milk bottle and proceeding to the lucerne grass pellets that had been blended in with the copra cake. They then in a very organized manner, they proceeded towards the browsing grounds under the leadership of Lentili and Ishaq-B. The browsing pace was deliberately slow to allow for ample browsing time on Msinga Hill.
In the afternoon, Arruba and Suswa went down on the ground to play games but later regretted doing so when Naipoki came and sat on their stomachs, using them as a cushion, and effectively ruining their game. Mudanda then took part in the same game as Tundani watched, before deciding to go and climb on Mudanda too!
20 April 2017
It was another perfect beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding before engaging in some brief socializing games at the stockade compound after which they headed to the browsing grounds.
Naipoki introduced a game of scratching against a rock boulder close to the stockade water hole but no one seemed interested in joining her. At the browsing grounds they all fed in single file with Ajali separating himself from the rest to enjoy a private browsing moment.
The orphans visited the middle water hole in groups of five where they drank their milk and then enjoyed some mudbathing games as they ran in and out of the water. Panda and Bada engaged each other in a wrestling match while others sat in the water. Their game was the most unique game of the day. Tundani was curious of their game and stood right behind them, on the banks of the waterhole, watching the two closely.
The rest of the browsing day took place close to the water hole with Lentili and Mashariki enjoying the lead of the others to the stockades in the evening.
21 April 2017
The morning was cloudy and cold as the stockade dependant orphan elephants came out of the stockades and downed a morning milk bottle. Mudanda then ambushed Ajali who was busy feeding on the lucerne grass pellets, giving him a very tough push which caught Ajali unaware, forcing him to scream for help. The keeper’s intervened to stop Mudanda from further disrupting Ajali and leaving him to browse in peace.
The orphans visited the middle water hole in the afternoon, with Tundani becoming the most graceful today as he exited the water in a kneeling position making it easier for him to get over the steep walls of the mud wallow.
Mbirikani and Panda had a wonderful scratching moment against a big tree trunk with each of them securing plenty of scratching space. Kenia had a wonderful scratch of her belly against a fallen tree trunk. Araba closely watched them all before having a scratch himself after which he rejoined the group that was browsing nearby for the rest of the day.
22 April 2017
Another morning with the stockade dependant orphans finishing their milk and supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. Mudanda who was in the front attempted to lead the other orphans up Msinga Hill but was forced to come and re-join them as they were all reluctant to follow her uphill. Mudanda took great precaution while descending as the rocks were quite slippery.
The orphans scattered around the browsing grounds with Kenia sticking with her loved adopted baby Araba. Nguvu and Ajali joined up for a wonderful and peaceful browsing moment while Suswa was seen feeding with her long time friend Arruba.
The orphans visited the middle water hole at noon and drank milk and water but didn’t wallow as it was rather cold. The orphans then browsed their way up to the big water hole, before turning and slowly making their way back to the stockades in the evening.
23 April 2017
The morning was cool with the stockade dependant orphans running out their stockades for their milk bottle before chasing away the baboons that came down Msinga Hill in an effort to steal their copra cake. They then headed to the browsing grounds under the stewardship of Kihari and Naipoki.
After four hours of peaceful browsing, Kenia saw Ndii wanting to take Araba away from her.
Instead of fighting Ndii, Kenia just moved away to a private browsing area with her baby Araba. The two rejoined the rest as they made their way to the water hole half an hour later. Ndii caught up with them and Kenia made sure to get between Ndii and Araba thus preventing Ndii from interacting with the younger orphan.
24 April 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding activity before heading to the browsing grounds. Mbirikani, Rorogoi and Bada made the choice to lead the others uphill for browsing but Ishaq-B diverted the others attention leading them to the lower northern grounds of Msinga Hill. Suswa, Arruba and Nguvu had a private browsing moment away from the others for a few minutes before rejoining the rest of the group.
The orphan group arrived at the waterhole at noon where they enjoyed their afternoon milk bottle; and a drink of water. None of the orphans wallowed as it was fairly cloudy and cold. The afternoons browsing activities began at the mudwallow where Tundani and Bada engaged each other in a wonderful wrestling match after which they rejoined the others for the rest of the browsing activities before heading back to the stockades for the night.
25 April 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants leaving the stockade after the milk and supplement feeding. The orphans browsed their way to the northern side of Msinga Hill before making their way to the middle waterhole in groups of five. Ajali, who has been weaned off milk, came last joining the rest in for a mudbath.
As it was cold the orphans were reluctant to get into the water. However the sun soon came out and the clouds scattered which changed the orphans decision and they wasted no time in plunging into the wallow. Bada and Ndii had a fun time running back and forth in the water while Tundani had fun sliding from the soil piles into the water. Panda and Mbirikani had a wonderful bathing competition in the water before joining the rest of the orphans who were browsing nearby.
26 April 2017
It was a nice morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing happily at the stockade compound after the feeding activities were over. Tundani, Mbirikani and Nelion took the lead of the group halfway up the eastern side of Msinga hill.
There were some light rain sprinkles in the morning and the orphan’s milk was taken on the base of the hill and they came down for a drink after which they enjoyed browsing on the moist grass.
The orphans then went back to the same place they were in the morning for the afternoon and settled to fed in single file.
Mzima and Layoni came and browsed on the base of the hill with Nelion and Bada noticing them and coming down to greet them. Sadly the two were moving quite quickly and the youngsters missed meeting up with their older friends who spent the afternoon browsing together as they made their way to the far northern side of Msinga Hill.
27 April 2017
The morning was perfect with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement foods before heading to the browsing grounds. Ishaq-B took charge of the group leading them to the feeding area. Kenia kept close browsing ties with her adopted baby Araba.
Later in the day Mbirikani and Kihari attempted to lead the rest of the orphan elephants up Msinga Hill but were met with some resistance by all the others who were very content to remain where they were.
Two hours later Kivuko came walking past the stockade dependant orphan elephants, as she made her way towards the Mzima-Mombasa water pipe line area.
Ndoria and Embu became ambitious and tried to follow her but due to her wide paces were not able to catch up to her and they rejoined their group. A short while Layoni came walking past intent on catching up with Kivuko.
In the afternoon Nelion engaged Tundani in a tough pushing game. Tundani tried every tactic he could to get out of the game and eventually managed to extract himself. The afternoon was spent browsing peacefully until it was time to return to the stockades.
28 April 2017
The morning began well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk bottle and proceeding with their usual supplement feeding before engaging in some socializing games at the stockade compound.
They browsed on the western lower grounds of Msinga Hill in single file before proceeding to the middle water hole for an afternoon milk bottle and mud bathing games.
Suswa, Arruba, Rorogoi and Ndoria then separated from the rest for the afternoons browsing, forming their own perfect small herd. The four joined the rest of the group three hours later. At 4.00pm, Ajali detached himself from the others taking for some private time while keeping a keen eye on the others movement. Although Ajali is older than the rest of the stockade dependent orphans the youngsters often try to bully him. He however remains calm and does not seek any revenge for the actions.
29 April 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplement feeding before moving to the browsing grounds under the leadership of Lentili and Ishaq-B. On arriving at the western side of Msinga hill, Nelion and Mbirikani took over the lead escorting the others up Msinga hill.
The orphans enjoyed the untouched green browse that they found. Mbirikani wanted to explore and moved further uphill and was not in a hurry to come down despite being repeatedly called to join the group who were headed for the waterhole. In the end a keeper had to stay on the hill with Mbirikani while the rest went for their afternoon milk bottle. Mbirikani rejoined the orphan herd in the evening when it was time to return to the stockades for the night. On arrival at the stockade she drank a lot of water, as she was quite thirsty by the time they got home, having missed the midday feed and wallow.
30 April 2017
It was a nice morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplements at the stockade compound. They browsed in single file visiting the middle water hole at noon where they drank milk and water but didn’t wallow as it was cloudy and cold. They later travelled to the foot of the western side of Msinga Hill for the afternoon browsing session.
Kenia kept ambushing and chasing Ajali which made him take refuge in a private browsing area. Suswa felt sorry for Ajali and went to give him some browsing company for the rest of the afternoon.
Soon some rain sprinkles started at 4.15pm, a little before the orphans were to head home for the night. Suswa got a fright from Rorogoi who came charging past her and Ajali and she ran to rejoin the group. Their running precipitated the orphan herds return to the stockades for the night. Kenia and Araba stopped for a scratching session against a tree trunk before catching up with the rest of the group.
Ngulia, Jamuhuri, Tawi and Kore are enjoying grazing out of the stockade compound on to the lower grounds of Msinga hill, always under the watchful eye of a keeper. Tawi has been practicing his solo bull character and has been wrestling with the other three.