Keepers' Diaries, April 2022

Select your unit:

Voi Reintegration Unit

Arruba began April in a state of high relaxation. Mid-browsing session she lay down and closed her eyes, as if she was asleep. Mbegu and Mudanda looked worried and went to investigate whether Arruba was indeed just resting.

The relaxing scene became anything but when Godoma came over and lay down next to Arruba. Pika Pika was very jealous to find someone else commandeering Arruba’s attention, so she ran over and started climbing on the big girl’s stomach to distract her away from Godoma. This made Godoma feel lonely, so Pika Pika decided to invite her to a sparring game. We were proud of little Pika Pika for setting her feelings aside and lifting Godoma’s spirits.

Of course, Pika Pika still earns her nickname ‘the queen.’ During noon feed, Tamiyoi, Sagala, Thamana, Pika Pika, and Lemeki often make up the first group. One afternoon, however, Pika Pika fell behind as everyone ran down for their bottles. This wounded her pride, so she decided to stop and wait in the middle for the second group, so that she could be at the front of that race for the milk feed!

Mudanda has recently gotten in touch with her nurturing side, and she is determined to make Thamana the object of her affections. Sagala is also smitten with the little boy, but because she is three years younger than Mudanda, she must defer to her. One afternoon, Sagala boldly decided to leave the water hole area early, just so she could sneak off with Thamana. Mudanda saw what she was doing and shot over to Thamana’s side, spreading her ears wide and hiding his face in order to block Sagala from seeing him.

By the end of the month, poor Sagala was resigned to occasionally touching Thamana with her trunk to satisfy her dream of looking after him. To console herself, she started spending more time with Pika Pika. One day, Sagala took Pika Pika on a sprinting spree, including a game of hide and seek. However, jealous Arruba followed their every step and was very disruptive, trying to ensure that Sagala didn’t have too much fun with her adopted baby Pika Pika.

While Lemeki remains smitten with her Keepers, she is not so easy when it comes to elephant friendships. One day, Rorogoi invited herself to join Lemeki and Thamana’s dust bath. Lemeki tried to walk away, but Rorogoi grabbed her front leg with her trunk and pulled her back to force her to remain with her. Lasayen and Ngilai seem to have developed a close bond with Lemeki, with Lasayen seen shadowing her much of the day.

Given her leadership role, you might think Mbegu is all business — but that is not the case! As the orphans walked down to the water hole one day, they encountered a big wild elephant herd. Mbegu mischievously splashed her dirty foot in the water trough, stirring the water and making it all dirty for the visiting wild elephants. She didn’t really succeed, as there was still ample water for the elephants and it was still very clean, but she had a great time. 

One evening, the orphans joined a wild elephant herd to browse. However, they had ulterior motives! Mbegu, Embu, and Rorogoi were on a mission to get one of the small, wild calves to play with them. Things didn't work out as seamlessly as they had hoped, and they ended up being seriously charged by the calf’s older sister. Then, it was Ngilai to the rescue: He ran over and acted all friendly, miraculously turning the whole fighting scenario into a game with the older sister. He returned very triumphant. In fact, he was so excited that he started climbing on Tagwa, which made Tamiyoi very uncomfortable. In the end, the girls decided they would rather not celebrate with Ngilai and walked off to a different area to browse.

Towards the end of the month, Ngilai decided to catch up with his old friend Ivia the buffalo. The pair were having a great time playing until Diria the orphaned zebra, who is one of Ivia’s close friends, became jealous. Diria bravely ran in front of Ngilai, biting and hissing at him, and managed to snatch Ivia away. Ivia was certainly the celebrity of the day, as later on, even Ndotto came over to play with him!

We had a dramatic incident on 25th April. Pika Pika, who always loves wild visitors, convinced Arruba and Embu to join a herd who was browsing close to them. As the wild elephants started walking away, the trio left with them. Try as they might, the Keepers were unable to extract them from the herd. They sent out a search party at first light, but they didn’t see so much as a hint of them. Then, two days later, just as the Keepers were finishing their tea and preparing for another day of searching, they noticed unusual behaviour from the orphans. They lifted their trunks, rumbled deeply and sniffed the air coming from the southern side of Msinga Hill. The Keepers realised why when Pika Pika, Arruba and Embu sauntered into the stockade compound, happy and unharmed! The smile on the Keepers' faces were restored and all the orphans happily surrounded their friends.

Just as it began, the month ended with more fun and games. Soon after arriving in the bush, Suswa surprised her friends by laying down on the ground and going stock still. Rorogoi looked worried and went to check on her. As she did so, Suswa lept up in full-on playful mode. This attracted nearly all the other orphans to join her game. It seems like that was her cunning plan all along!

April 2022 day to day

01 Apr

The orphan elephants came out of their stockades in a happy mood and left the stockades for the bush soon after the morning milk and lucerne pellet feeding.

They browsed peacefully for more than four hours. Arruba was feeling so relaxed she lay down and closed her eyes as if she was asleep. Mbegu and Mudanda looked worried and went to investigate whether Arruba was indeed okay, and they were reassured that Arruba was just resting. Godoma also came over and as soon as she got to Arruba she lay down next to her. Pika Pika became quite jealous of Godoma next to Arruba! She came running over and started climbing on Arruba’s stomach to attract her attention away from Godoma to her side. Godoma then looked lonely, so Pika Pika decided to be put her feelings aside and invite Godoma to a sparring game, consoling her and lifting her spirits.

Arruba lying down to sleep

Godoma lying next to Arruba

Mbegu and Mudanda checking on Arruba