Keepers' Diaries, August 2000

Voi Reintegration Unit

August was, again, a very dry month but there were scattered sporadic showers elsewhere in the Park, which attracted many of the wild elephants away from the Voi river and the vicinity of the Headquarters. Consequently, the orphans had limited contact with their wild counterparts. Again the Big Boys, i.e. Dika, Ndume and Edo were regular fixtures, spending almost every afternoon and evening at the Stockades feeding on the Grewia sticks left over from the cut browse for the night feeds.

01 August 2000

Natumi’s group (the babies) left as usual with Malaika and Loisaba and Emily and her group, but Emily left them after the l0 a.m. feed. The babies wallowed at 11.30 a.m., followed by Emily who came in at 12. Malaika dominated half the mudbath and the others occupied the other half. After the orphans had left a wild herd arrived and enjoyed the facility. When the orphans returned in the evening Ndume, and Edo were at the Stockades with Uaso and Lewa.

02 August 2000

The orphans left the Stockades together as usual, and Emily and her group parted from the babies after the l0 a.m. milk feed, but rejoined them at the mudbath. Aitong was very gentle with Nyiro, helping him out of the mud. Afterwards Malaika and Emily left together with their respective charges. Imenti chased away three buffaloes at 3.30 p.m. Meanwhile Dika and Ndume turned up at the Stockades. The Keepers noticed a large “pimple” on Dika’s face, which they squeezed, cleaned and dressed. Edo had diarrhoea.

03 August 2000

All the orphans left the Stockades together as usual and joined up again at the mudbath. Afterwards Malaika and Loisaba left separately from Emily’s group, who headed towards the back of the bill where Aitong fed near three zebras. The Big Boys were at the Stockades in the morning and returned again at 4 p.m., Edo and Ndume arriving first, followed later by Dika.

04 August 2000

All the orphans met up at the mudbath, including Uaso, Lewa, Ndume, Dika and Edo. Edo and Ndume had a game which Ndume won. The Boys arrived back at the Stockades ahead of the others.

05 August 2000

Again Malaika and Emily joined up with the babies at the mudbath, having left them after the l0 a.m. feed. After the wallow Malaika left with Loisaba. Emily’s group passed some wild elephants at 2 p.m. whom Aitong and Edo joined for a short time, heading towards the Lodge.

06 August 2000

Emily’s group left the babies after the l0 a.m. milk feed. The babies wallowed at 10.30 today and Emily’s group arrived at 11.45 a.m. Malaika turned up 15 minutes later. Laikipia joined Emily’s group after the wallow and spent three hours with them, Aitong acting as Caretaker. Meanwhile Edo, Dika, Ndume, Lewa and Uaso headed West at 8 a.m., spending the day long the pipeline road and returning to the Stockades at 3 p.m.

07 August 2000

the various groups left together. Laikipia played with Natumi and they all met up with Emily’s group at the mudbath when Edo played with Imenti. The orphans wallowed with “immense participation” today. Later Imenti and Mweiga yelled at some waterbucks they met in their travels. Mweiga gave them a spirited mock charge. Malaika and Loisaba joined the baby group at 4 p.m. to escort them back to the Stockades, where they met up with Dika and Ndume who had arrived at 5.30 p.m.

08 August 2000

The babies wallowed alone today, again with “immense participation”! During the course of the day met up with a wild group and spent a short time with them. Emily’s group spent the afternoon with the Boys and Malaika, Malaika leaving the others at 4 p.m. to join the babies up at the Stockades.

09 August 2000

Emily’s group again joined the babies at the mudbath, and then left them. Uaso and Lewa spent the day with the three Big Boys, returning to the Stockade at 5 p.m.

10 August 2000

The same routine today but a buffalo made the babies nervous on their way to the mudwallow. Imenti and Emily played after the mudbath.

11 August 2000

The babies enjoyed a “chasing game” soon after leaving the Stockade. They had their 10 a.m. feed along with Mweiga who then left with Emily. The babies wallowed at 11.30 a.m. when Edie and Ilingwezi covered every inch of their bodies in mud. Loisaba was very active in the mudbath today, and Edo, Lewa and Uaso were also present. In the afternoon Emily’s group met a wild male and Aitong was the first to greet him, followed by Edo and Malaika who spent l0 minutes with this Bull. Dika and Ndume arrived at the Stockades at 3 p.m. and played together.

12 August 2000

Emily’s group met up with the babies and Malaika at the mudbath when Emily and Imenti had a game together. Later Emily escorted Mweiga back to get her milk. During mudbath Malaika helped Nyiro who got stuck in the mud and later she and Loisaba spent the afternoon with the babies, who fed close to some impalas. The Big Boys reported back to the Stockades at 4 p.m. with Lewa and Uaso.

13 August 2000

The orphans all left the Stockades together as usual, and the larger groups parted from the babies after the l0 a.m. feed. Emily came to the wallow at noon when Lewa pushed Aitong who didn’t retaliate. Later they met up with Ndume on the west side of the hill. Dika came to the Stockades after everyone else.

14 August 2000

The babies were scared by a lesser kudu and later by two buffaloes they met on their way to the mudbath. Emily joined the babies at the mudbath when Uaso first played with Aitong and then with Uaso. After the orphans left, a wild group came to the mudbath. Lewa and Edo headed off Eastwards and returned to the Stockades together in the evening. Meanwhile Simon Trevor reported a cow with a calf who came to drink at his house in the evening, the calf trailing a long wire cable from the noose snared around one leg. This was, in fact, Lissa and her wild born calf Lara, but Simon did not know this at the time.

15 August 2000

The babies were very frightened by a hare they met in the morning, rushing back to the Keepers for protection. As usual they were joined at the mudbath by the others. In the late evening Lissa arrived up at the Stockade with her baby Lara, the snare still in place. The Keepers tried to catch the calf, but were deterred when Lissa and Mpenzi became aggressive. Finally, Lissa walked into Malaika’s section of the Stockade to feed on the greens, so the Keepers hurriedly closed the gate, isolating Mpenzi and the Calf outside, separated from the three Big Boys who were the other side of the electric wire. Again the Keepers tried to corner the calf, which rushed underneath the electric wire to seek shelter sandwiched in between the Big Elephants. Thereafter the Keepers managed to hook a steel wire through the head of the noose, shielded all the while by the Big Elephants, who pinioned the calf close and who seemed to understand exactly what was happening, despite the fact that the calf was very upset, as was Mpenzi. (Meanwhile, Lissa kept on feeding and did not show any signs of distress, obviously confident that the Keepers would not harm her calf). Miraculously, the snare was loosened and the calf freed itself before rushing back protesting loudly to Mpenzi and Lissa, Lissa having been released from Malaika’s Stockade.

16 August 2000

All the orphans had a “wonderful” mudbath today, after which Emily’s group was frightened by a herd of buffalo they encountered on their way heading West. Lissa, Mpenzi and the calf came back to the Stockades in the evening for some Coconut cakes.

17 August 2000

Malaika accompanied the babies with Lewa and Uaso in tow. They were joined at the mudbath by Emily. Mweiga fell accidentally during mudbath and was instantly helped by Malaika after which Emily’s group headed west again. All three Big Boys turned up at the Stockades in the evening, as did Lissa and her calf and Mpenzi. Emily’s group met up with Catherine’s group on the way back in the evening. (Catherine is Eleanor’s wild friend, who took charge of Eleanor’s adoptees when Eleanor left to have her calf).

18 August 2000

Again today the Keepers report a “wonderful” wallow. Imenti found himself chased by a buffalo he tried to scare away. Edo and Ndume spent most of the day up at the Stockades.

19 August 2000

Another “wonderful” wallow today, all together, after which Mweiga decided to accompany the baby group. However, when she lost sight of Emily she panicked and began to yell which brought Emily, Aitong and Imenti at the run! Meanwhile the three Big Boys left the mudbath together when Dika punched Ndume who then vented his anger on poor Edo, causing him to yell loudly. This frightened the babies who ran to their Keepers for protection. Catherine and Lissa’s group were up at the Stockades when the orphans returned for the night.

20 August 2000

The orphans left together as usual but separated at 9 a.m. and met up again at the wallow. A wild group came to drink water from the drums and Aitong left with them, returning later to the babies, with whom she spent the afternoon, returning to the Stockades with them in the evening.

21 August 2000

The babies spent all morning with Emily and Malaika and their charges. Laikipia followed Emily’s group after the mudbath and was with them until 4 p.m. whilst the other babies fed close by. Loisaba was with Malaika and Edo and Ndume were at the Stockades when they returned in the evening.

22 August 2000

The babies wallowed at 11.30 a.m. after which Emily’s group left heading away from the hill. Malaika and Loisaba left the babies at 4.30 p.m. heading for the Stockades where they met Edo and Dika who had arrived at 4 p.m.

23 August 2000

The orphans enjoyed the mudbath together as usual, after which Emily played with Imenti, whilst Mweiga beat a bush playfully. At 2.30 p.m. Malaika and Lioisaba joined them. In the afternoon Aitong spotted three zebra and began a game with them, running parallel to them backwards and forwards for the next one and a half hours!

24 August 2000

Today there was apparently an “exciting” mudbath, Aitong and Imenti having successfully chased away some buffaloes. Emily’s group spent 20 minutes with 4 wild elephants they met during the day. The three Big Boys were up at the Stockades in the evening when the others returned and a wild bull also turned up, whom Aitong approached.

25 August 2000

Today it was Icholta who needed Malaika’s assistance in the mudwallow. Emily’s group headed West later and met up with Ndume on the way back to the Stockades in the evening.

26 August 2000

It was cold today, so only Edie braved the mud and covered herself in it. Natumi decided against going in. Emily and Malaika were also there but only Malaika wallowed. Dika, Ndume, Edo, Malaika and Loisaba reported back to the Stockades ahead of the others.

27 August 2000

Too cold to wallow today so the orphans had a dust bath instead. Later Emily’s group accompanied Malaika and Loisaba heading towards the hill. Malaika and Loisaba returned to the Stockades ahead of the others where the three Big Boys had already turned up.

28 August 2000

Today Mweiga enjoyed a spirited game with Salama during the mudbath after which Emily’s group left the babies, returning to the Stockades at 6 p.m. The three Big Boys were already there when they got back.

29 August 2000

Today the orphans followed the same routine, Emily’s group joining the babies at the mudbath. Lolokwe fell into the mudbath and was having difficulty getting up when Aitong rushed in to help him, even before the Keepers could offer a hand. In the afternoon a wild group of 3 passed Emily’s family at 3 p.m. but there was no interaction. Dika and Ndume were up at the Stockade. The babies’ milk ration was increased from 3 bottles top 4 for daylight feeds, and from 2 to 3 bottles per feed at night.

30 August 2000

The orphans all left together as usual, but once Mweiga had had her l0 a.m. feed, Emily’s group left with Malaika and Loisaba, but returned to join the babies at the mudbath. Imenti screamed at a lesser kudu, pretending to chase it off in order to protect all the others. Back at the Stockade in the evening Malaika played with Loisaba, having arrived back before all the others. Ndume, Lewa and Uaso came in later, having gone off together in the morning.

31 August 2000

All the orphans left together as usual. Today the babies had a “spectacular” wallow that lasted more than 45 minutes. Emily’s group plus Malaika, Loisaba, Lewa, Uaso and Edo wallowed at noon when Lewa knocked Aitong who refused to retreat. Later they met up with a wild bull with whom Edo, Aitong, Lewa and Uaso had a good time playing. Dika and Ndume arrived up at the Stockade at 6.30 p.m.