Keepers' Diaries, August 2003

Voi Reintegration Unit

The month of August saw two rescues, one tragic and one happy. On the 16th a yearling female calf abandoned at Satao Camp, who had unsuccessfully being trying to attach itself to visiting wild herds for two days, was rescued by our Tsavo Keepers and taken to the Elephant Stockades, there to be welcomed warmly by Emily and Aitong, and all the others when they returned in the evening. The calf took milk, but sadly died the following night, breathing heavily and obviously suffering from advanced pneumonia. It is interesting that elephants cannot cough, so other than a moist trunk, and laboured breathing, there is no prior warning that the animal is, in fact, nearing death from lung disorders.

01 August 2003

At l0.30 a.m. our orphans joined a group of l0 wild elephants. Ndara, Loisaba and Kinna enjoyed playing with wild age-mates, and when the other orphans left for the mudbath, Ndara and Loisaba decided to remain behind with their wild friends. However, Emily came running back to fetch them and escort them to the mudwallow. When the small orphans ran for their milk, Morani pushed down Seraa, who managed to get there first.

02 August 2003

At 9.15 a.m. all the orphans joined up with a wild group of 7. Emily and Tsavo played a game of Hide and Seek with their wild friends, whilst Aitong, Loisaba and Ndara joined forces to drive away a wild cow who wanted to hijack Morani.

03 August 2003

At l0 a.m. the orphans found a group of l5 impala. Yatta, Nyiro, Salama and Laikipia enjoyed chasing them hither and thither until 4 zebras came galloping towards them, which scared the orphans, making them run to their Keepers. It was a cold day, so the orphans were reluctant to wallow. Sweet Sally sucked water into her trunk and poured it out over Mukwaju, who screamed, and wanted to take revenge, but Sally fled and he couldn’t catch her.

04 August 2003

The day started with light showers of rain, which made the orphans very happy and playful. Emily lay down so that Mpala, Mweya, Icholta and Mvita could climb onto her stomach. Solango spent most of the day next to Seraa, and kept trying to mount her. Noticing that Solango was being a pest to Seraa, Nasalot intervened and pushed him away, and then ensured that he kept his distance from Seraa.

05 August 2003

When Solango came to feed on Sosian’s chosen bush, which appeared more green, Sosian pulled his trunk and bit it! After a wonderful noon mudbath, our orphans joined up with a wild group of l8 elephants. Edie, Icholta, Tsavo and Ilingwezi combined efforts to push away a wild cow of about 5 years of age whilst Aitong blocked Morani from joining the wild group, pulling him to her with her trunk, and picking pieces of grass to offer him as a distraction!

06 August 2003

Burra was having a wonderful noon mudbath today, rolling round and round, until Nyiro accidentally stepped on his broken ear. Burra screamed so loudly that the Keepers rushed in to comfort him.

07 August 2003

Today, we noticed a wart beginning to develop on Seraa’s ear. We treated it with homeopathic “Thuya”. A very strong wind blew up a dust cloud. Seraa, Mpala and Solango were highly scared and rushed screaming to Aitong for protection, which prompted all the others to also run to Emily and Aitong.

08 August 2003

Kinna, Yatta, Edie, Laikipia and Loisaba chased two rock hyraxes, who retreated into a cave at the base of Mzinga Hill. The orphans stood by, hoping that they would come out, and wandered off unhappily when they refused to do so.

09 August 2003

At 3 p.m., four huge bachelor bulls approached our orphans. Natumi, Seraa, Mweiga and Tsavo were highly scared, rumbling with ears out, but later calmed down when they saw that the bulls were friendly towards Emily and Aitong. All the others then spent the rest of the afternoon with the bulls, leaving them only when it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

10 August 2003

During a wonderful noon mudbath, Mweya climbed onto Seraa’s stomach. Seraa yelled, but Mweya ignored this, so the Keepers had to come to the rescue.

11 August 2003

On the way back to the Stockades, Nyiro kept mounting Solango, until Sosian, Sweet Sally and Burra teamed up to push him away.

12 August 2003

After mudbath, the orphans joined a wild herd of 12 elephants, one of whom had a small calf of about 2 months. Mpala, Morani, Tsavo and Mulika followed the wild baby closely. The orphans spent the rest of the day with this herd, but were scared away when a herd of a thousand buffalo approached.

13 August 2003

Having gulped down her milk rapidly at noon, Thoma slowly pushed Seraa away from her bottles. Seraa turned to retaliate, but the Keepers intervened to ensure that Seraa got her rightful share.

14 August 2003

There was a struggle today between Solango and Mweya as to who should lead the young orphaned group down to the mudbath. Sosian separated them, and took the lead himself, thereby sorting out the problem.

15 August 2003

The orphans joined a group of 5 waterbucks, and browsed happily amongst them.

16 August 2003

During a wonderful noon mudbath, Edie gave special attention to little Morani, lying down so that he could climb on her. Meanwhile Mukwaju and Laikipia had a strength testing pushing match.

17 August 2003

At 7 a.m. the orphans joined a wild elephant herd of l0, with Emily, Tsavo, Mpala and Icholta making the first approach. Nyiro bellowed when he was pushed down by a wild friend, and all the orphans rushed to help him up. All but Aitong and Morani then left this wild group, and Aitong and Morani followed along later.

18 August 2003

Morani accidentally shoved Ndara whilst tussling with Solango over who should occupy the best part of the mudbath. Ndara retaliated by trying to shove Morani out, but Edie intervened and came to Morani’s assistance. After the mudbath at 2 p.m., Natumi, Edie, Salama and Laikipia joined a group of 7 wild elephants. Edie went to test her strength with a wild agemate. Emily, Aitong and the other orphans joined this group later and all went well until Sweet Sally pushed down a wild friend. The Matriarch rumbled her displeasure and all the orphans decided that discretion was the better part of valour and left. The wart on Seraa’s ear has responded well to the momepathic Thuya, and has disappeared, but we are still treating the wound it has left.

19 August 2003

The orphans had a wonderful mudbath today after which Sosian played a game of hide and seek with Nyiro and Lolokwe. Nyiro mounted onto Lolokwe and felt good relaxing there for a few minutes, until Lolokwe dislodged him.

20 August 2003

A running lesser kudu scared the orphans today, sending them all running to Emily and Aitong for protection, but when they realised it was only a kudu, Salama, Lolokwe, Laikipia and Icholta charged and saw it on its way.

21 August 2003

At 7.25 a.m. the orphans joined a wild elephant herd numbering ll, and browsed together with them happily until l0.30 a.m. when most of the orphans separated, leaving Mpala, Salama and Laikipia behind with the wild group. These three came to the mudbath independently. During the mudbath, Salama trod of Mweya’s tail whilst she was sitting down scratching her bottom. She screamed, and the Keepers came to see what was wrong.

22 August 2003

At 8 a.m. 7 wild elephants passed nearby and were joined by Aitong and Laikipia. The others joined the wild group later, but when Aitong and Natumi joined forces to try and snatch a wild baby, the Mother saw them all off!

23 August 2003

After mudbath Salama went forward to try and mount Morani, but Aitong rushed to the rescue sending Salama off screaming. During the melee, Salama knocked down Mweiga, but she managed to get up on her own.

24 August 2003

Early in the morning Mpala went forward to try and mount Morani, but Morani retaliated. A tussle ensued, which brought Natumi along to separate the warring babies.

25 August 2003

Today Ndara kept Morani close all morning until the mudbath when Loisaba came to take a turn at having him.

26 August 2003

Icholta would not let Seraa share her bush today, and kept pushing her away with a hind leg. Emily left the orphans to join a wild herd of 6 elephants, and enjoyed a game with a wild agemate

27 August 2003

The orphans had a very playful mudbath when they separated into groups to play several fascinating games. Nyiro played with Tsavo while Laikipia, Salama, Lolokwe and Loisaba played together.

28 August 2003

At 2 p.m. the orphans met up with 13 wild elephants, and spent the afternoon together with them. Mpala wanted to remain with this wild group, so Emily, Aitong and Natumi had difficulty in repossessing him, the others having already left to return to the Stockades. Emily’s group returned late with Mpala. During the night Lissa and her two babies came with Uaso to drink at the Stockades and spent about an hour there, but. Mpenzi, who is normally with Lissa acting as the Nannie to the two babies was not there, and has not been seen with Lissa for several weeks. We suspect that she is busy with another newborn baby in the wild herd with whom Lissa and Uaso regularly fraternise.

29 August 2003

When the orphans arrived for their mudbath, they found 2 warthogs drinking there. Tsavo, Loisaba, Thoma and Kinna cornered them and charged them. One of the warthogs became very aggressive and wanted to bite Kinna, who sought shelter with the Keepers, trembling in fear! After a wonderful mudbath, all the orphans began playing by charging hither and thither, but the game ended when Mweya and Icholta collided head on which sent them screaming and running in opposite directions.

30 August 2003

At 8.20 a.m. Ilingwezi lay down to have a dust bath. Ndara, Mukwaju, Yatta and Nasalot piled in too, almost suffocating her, and making her rumble her distress, so the Keepers came to the rescue. Lissa, her two babies and Uaso came to the Stockades in the evening. Morani, Mweya, Thoma, Solango and Mpala surrounded Lissa’s tiny calf and touched it gently with their trunks. Lissa allowed them to do so, but kept a close eye on them.

31 August 2003

Thoma, Solango, Morani, Icholta, Mvita and Tsavo chased 2 ostriches that they happened upon, but having chased them for about 400 metres, they were scared by baboons jumping in a tree. They did an about turn and returned, screaming and running, with Mvita in the lead!