Keepers' Diaries, April 2020

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Ndotto has been showing off this month and is eager to remind the orphans what a big bull he is developing into. When the partially-independent orphans Nelion and Tundani come by for a visit he usually takes the opportunity to test his strength against them, despite them being three years his senior. When he isn’t engaging them in a strength-testing match, he takes on Suswa, the oldest female in the Voi dependent herd now, or even Arruba. 

Arruba still dotes on little Pika Pika, the youngest at the Voi Unit by far, and in return Pika Pika relishes spending time with her, even if some of those precious moments can be interrupted by Ndotto sometimes! Nelion tries to climb on Arruba too, perhaps asserting his authority, which always upsets Pika Pika and she then yells out for help from the others. 

Despite having to contend with the playful Ndotto, Nelion and Tundani chose to visit the dependent orphans almost every day; although they still choose to sleep outside of the stockades every night, they like to accompany the dependent orphans for their daily routine of browsing out in the Park. The other partially-independent orphans Kenia, Ndii, Mashariki, Araba, Ishaq-B and Ndoria didn’t visit as often as Tundani and Nelion this month but they remain in the area. On occasion Ishaq-B would visit with Tundani and Nelion, and that is perhaps because of her close connection to Mbegu and her herd still. On those occasions Mbegu and Godoma did their best to keep them away from Ndotto, as they could see they had their eye on Ndotto to perhaps persuade him to join Kenia’s independent group. 

Sometimes Kenia’s herd was spotted browsing high up on Msinga Hill, choosing not to come down and visit the dependent orphans for the day. Now and again they would come along to the stockades in the morning to share the Lucerne supplements with the dependent orphans. As the rest of Kenia’s herd didn’t visit as frequently as Tundani and Nelion, there would often be huge excitement amongst the orphans when Kenia’s herd did come by as they greeted one another with lots of trumpeting, rumbling and enthusiasm, usually followed by some games.

On the 7th when Kenia’s herd arrived at the stockades in the morning, the Keepers noticed that Mashariki was missing from the group, and only Kenia, Ndii, Ishaq-B, Ndoria and Araba were present. Mashariki has, in the past, joined up with wild elephant and the Keepers suspect that she may have joined a wild herd that has young calves. 

The Keepers, our de-snaring teams and aerial surveillance continue to keep an eye out for Maskariki on their daily patrols, but she has an independent spirit, and we hope that wherever she is she is enjoying her wild life and that she might circle back soon for a visit.

Feeling independent one day, Sagala managed to sneak away from the orphan herd to join a wild elephant herd that was browsing nearby. The wild herd started to move further away with Sagala following them, ignoring the Keepers calling her in an effort to get her to come back. Eventually the Keepers drove close to the wild herd in their vehicle and managed to separate Sagala from her wild friends and bring her back to re-join the orphan herd as she is still milk dependent. 

The whole area around Voi is looking beautiful at the moment as we have received good rains for such an extended period of time; unprecedented rain, in fact. There is a great variety of vegetation for the orphans to feed on and they have all been gaining weight as a result and are full of energy. Godoma, Pika Pika, Emoli and Ndotto, particularly and when they are around Tundani and Nelion too, have been thoroughly enjoying the mud bath this month – rolling around like little mud fish. Mudanda has been quite good at ruining their fun though as she has been a bit badly behaved again this month; one day she came running into the water, charging at her three friends pushing them with her tusks until they exited the mud bath, bringing an end to the mud bathing session.  

Ngilai and Emoli have been our little greedy boys this month. Ngilai often quickly finishes his share before begging for more from his friends, and Emoli likes to sprint past Tahri, Pika Pika and Ngilai in the morning to be the first to the feeding area for his milk bottle.

On the 3rd of the month, Cheza and Ivia, the two orphan buffalos who were raised at the Kaluku Field HQ, were brought to the Voi stockades to be reintegrated to the wild from there. They immediately settled into their new way of life and have been out and about in the Park, but they have had to keep a wide berth of the elephant orphans who enjoy trying to chase them away, Ngilai in particular! Having been raised around elephants though, the buffaloes are not phased with the orphans at Voi at all. One day little Pika Pika tried to bolshily charge at the baby buffalo Ivia, who was browsing near the orphans, but quickly withdrew when she saw that Ivia wasn’t scared of her in the slightest! 

The orphans haven’t been very tolerant of their stockade friend Tawi either, the eland orphan who was raised and reintegrated from the Voi Unit too. He has been hanging around again recently, but one day he accidentally hurt Murit’s foot as he charged past him one day. Murit’s foot quickly healed, but he evidently held a grudge as Murit got very upset when Tawi decided to join the orphans later in the month at the mud bath. He went charging out to meet Tawi but when Tawi didn’t flinch and actually looked ready to charge back at him, Murit quickly backed away and made a hasty retreat!

April 2020 day to day

01 Apr

The orphans exited their stockades for their milk and supplement feeding.  Nelion and Tundani arrived at the stockades to join the dependent group and led them out for the day. Ndotto wanted to take the lead and overlapped the two boys, and engaged them in a strength testing game.  Tundani ignored Ndotto’s attempts to play and instead chose to take on Arruba for a game. Pika Pika, Arruba’s adopted baby, came over to stay close to Arruba.

Ngilai took over the leadership of the group to the Park, stopping to browse when they found some Klipspringers in their path. The orphans visited the baobab tree waterhole for their milk bottles at 11am and after they had some water from the water trough. When they were done drinking they had a quick mud bath before heading to Msinga Hill for the afternoon browsing session.  

Sagala climbed on a rock and stretched her trunk in an effort to reach higher branches that were full of lovely green leaves. Emoli lay down under the shade of the rock for a quick nap. Tundani and Nelion returned to the stockade with the dependent orphans in the evening. They remained there for a couple of hours before walking off back into the Park.  


Ndotto busy browsing

Emoli relaxing