Keepers' Diaries, August 2005

Voi Reintegration Unit

Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally have been very much in evidence this month, either waiting at the Stockade Gates first thing in the morning to escort the other orphans out, taking them to feed up different parts of Mazinga Hill, or meeting up with them out in the bush later. The Keepers report that Aitong’s breasts are beginning to fill, which means that her pregnancy is far advanced. It is also gratifying to note that they have put on weight since enjoying supplementation of Copra.

01 August 2005

The month began cool, as is usual for this time of the year. The orphans began the day on a high note, climbing Mazinga Hill, where there is a lot of food, since the wild elephants have not utilized this very much. Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally came to the Stockade at 5.30 p.m. They have lost condition due to the very dry conditions, and following instructions from DSWT Nairobi, they were given Copra Cake. Having enjoyed this hand-out, they went to feed along the Southern side of the hill.

02 August 2005

The orphans spent a lot of time feeding on the S. side of Mazinga hill, returning to drink at the Stockades before heading out into the main part of the Park. They enjoyed a bath in their bush waterhole at l0.43 a.m. after which they took a rest under shade. The rest of the day was spent feeding at the base of the hill, before returning back to their Night Stockade.

03 August 2005

The orphans again enjoyed feeding up Mazinga Hill, before heading for the noon mudbath where visitors awaited them. Mweya mischievously moved ever closer to the visitors, pretending to be preoccupied with a stick, but the Keepers read her intentions and moved in to prevent any prank. Understanding that she had been “caught out”, she gave up! Edie put on a wonderful display, tossing her trunk into the air, and then rolling in the soil. Burra knelt down on his hind legs “to be crowned” the best swimmer of the day as the others were leaving the mudwallow. Sosian returned to watch him closely. Mweiga kept her distance from the mudwallow to avoid being knocked down by the exuberant wallowers, and came later to bathe alone after the others had wandered off. Meanwhile, Mweya and Sosian waited behind to welcome her once she had finished.

04 August 2005

It was a cloudy morning with light drizzle. Emily’s group was there in the morning to escort the babies into the Park. They all went high up Mazinga Hill on the Eastern side where there is still a tinge of green. Aitong, Sally, Mweya and Sosian escorted Mweiga slowly up the hill. The orphans came down to take water and their milk at l0.30 a.m. looking happy and well satisfied. After mudbath, they went back up the hill, though not so high. Emily, Aitong and Sally returned with the others to the Night Stockade where they enjoyed their ration of Copra before going up the hill for the night.

05 August 2005

August has been a cool month, which the orphans have enjoyed, allowing maximum feeding time before having to seek shade. Emily and her group came down the hill at 9 a.m. and headed out to join the babies after a drink at the Stockades. They met up with the babies at the foot of Mazinga hill, and Mweiga, Salama, Laikipia and Nyiro rushed to greet Emily, surrounding a Keeper who was standing near Emily and “crowning” him by touching his head gently with their tusks. Aitong and Sally went to accompany Sosian who was lagging behind the welcoming party. All the orphans enjoyed a mudbath together, and returned to the Night Stockades for their Copra ration. Emily then headed westwards.

06 August 2005

The cool weather continues, so the orphans were in a jovial mood. Emily had come down the hill at 6 a.m. and went into the Stockades to enjoy the Grewia bicolor bark left over from the babies’ night greens. Meanwhile, Thoma and Burra were enjoying a running/pushing game, ignoring the presence of Emily and her group who were surrounded and greeted exuberantly by all the others. Emily then led the orphans to the Northern side of Mazinga hill taking them high up. They all returned together to the Stockade in the evening and after taking Copra, Emily’s group headed westwards again.

07 August 2005

It was another cool day, and the orphans again fed high up on the Northern slope of the hill, declining to come down even for the mudbath. Those still on milk came down when they heard the milk tractor approaching, after which the others followed and took water at the waterhole. Today, they all allowed Mweiga to take the lead back in the evening which for her, was a treat.

08 August 2005

Today, worms were spotted in the dung of Emily, Aitong and Sally, as well as in the dung of some of the others, so a report was sent to Nairobi for the de-worming medication.

09 August 2005

Natumi and the others went to feed again on the Northern side of the hill after their noon mudbath, where they met up with Emily’s group coming down the hill at 4.35 p.m. Aitong was first to make contact with the babies, and was greeted joyfully by loud trumpets and excited rushing around. Emily and Sweet Sally hurried to join in the welcoming ceremony. Meanwhile, Sosian was left in confusion up the hill, bellowing for help, so Aitong and Sally went to retrieve him. All three then came down happily, swinging trunks from side to side. Emily’s group returned with the babies to the Stockade, and left at 8 p.m.

10 August 2005

The orphans left the Stockade for the main Park without Emily’s group today, so today it was obvious that Natumi enjoyed being Leader again. At the noon mudbath, none of the orphans chose to go into the water because it was cool, Ndara, Loisaba, Mvita and Edie having tested the temperature of the water beforehand with the tip of their trunks. The four dashed away when Loisaba mischievously doused them with cold water from her trunk. Meanwhile, a warthog, who had seen the orphans’ approach, was sheltering in a nearby bush unnoticed, but was unlucky when Naomi’s herd arrived soon after the orphans had left, so he gave up and went off to wallow elsewhere. Emily’s group came to the stockade soon after the babies had retired in the evening, and was joined by Mpenzi, who came alone without Lissa to feed along with Emily, Aitong and Sally on the Copra handout. Emily, Aitong, Sally and Mpenzi then went off together towards the western side of the hill.

11 August 2005

The day was warmer, and the sky clear, so the orphans were very happy to be out and about again. Icholta and Natumi quickly led the others up Mazinga Hill. Salama went teasing Laikipia for a pushing match, but Laikipia ignored him because of the slope and sharp stones. At 4.50 p.m. they all came down in a straight line, led by Mweya and Mpala.

12 August 2005

It was another clear, but cool day, so the orphans went up the hill again to feed. They came down slowly and happily for the mudbath, quickly teaming up in groups of friends to test their strength in competition with one another. Burra took Solango and Salama tried his luck with Laikipia. Seraa rested her trunk on Thoma’s back, while Morani joined Edie for a rest under shade. Meanwhile Mpala played with Mvita. At 11 a.m. Seraa, Sosian, Loisaba and Ndara mudwallowed wonderfully before all returning to the hill to feed until bed time back at the Stockades.

13 August 2005

Naomi’s group joined our orphans just as they were about to leave the mudwallow. The two groups drank together, but refrained from entering the wallow, it being too cold. Laikipia moved fast to secure a wild friend for a pushing game, but Edie became jealous, wanting contact with the wild friend. In this she was disappointed, because the wild friend preferred Laikipia, although she was able to be with him for a little while when the game had come to an end. Salama shared a bucket of water with a wild friend, whilst Burra enjoyed a pushing game with another wild friend somewhat larger than himself. The wild group spent the rest of the day with the orphans, and when the orphans began to head home in the evening, Laikipia’s wild friend came along too, returning to rejoin his family when the orphans reached the Spring Gate.

14 August 2005

Naomi’s group came again to drink at the orphans’ watering point just as the orphans were leaving, and those taking milk were still enjoying their bottles. Burra, Thoma and Mpala attempted to join the wild group having finished their milk, but Naomi rumbled deeply as they approached, and this made them retreat rapidly to join the others who were heading for the hill. Naomi remained at the waterhole for a while, but then left. Burra and Salama had a pushing competition on the way back to the Stockade in the evening.

15 August 2005

The day saw concentrated feeding until the mudbath where a herd of zebra were also taking water. They moved aside to allow the orphans access, a gesture that was obviously appreciated, because the orphans did not attempt to chase the zebra off, which was unusual. In the evening, the orphans met up with Emily’s group who had also just arrived. The greeting was highly charged, as usual, and it was good to see that Emily, Aitong and Sally appeared to have gained weight since being de-wormed and given Copra. They left at 7.30 p.m.

16 August 2005

The orphans joined a large wild group with 5 young calves , who were closely protected by the young wild females of that group who had sandwiched them in between themselves, and would not allow our orphans the access they all desperately craved! The orphans welcomed the group to their noon mudbath, after which the wild elephants moved off.

17 August 2005

The orphans began the day jubilantly and went up Mazinga Hill to feed. Mweiga tried her level best to climb up with the others and she managed. When they came down for the mudbath, they met up with Naomi and her group, so Laikipia, Sosian, Natumi and Mvita secured their wild friends, and enjoyed their usual pushing games. Naomi’s family came to share the mudbath, and back at the Stockades in the evening, the orphans greeted Emily’s group with “sheer ecstacy”!

18 August 2005

It was a cold day, so the orphans concentrated on feeding at the Eastern base of Mazinga Hill. Tsavo and Edie struggled to reach some green leaves at the top of a tree, so the Keepers assisted them.

19 August 2005

It turned hot this morning, so the orphans rushed to take a drink from their water bins before going into the mudbath. Thoma made us all laugh when she put her forelegs in the water and began swinging her trunk round and round in circles.

20 August 2005

Today the orphans climbed Mazinga Hill again, led by Laikipia and Natumi, and were very happy to find a patch of long grass. They came down for the mudbath, and then took a rest under shade, before returning to the hill where they spent the rest of the day.

21 August 2005

It was a hot day, and the orphans went up the hill to feed. Natumi brought them down for the mudbath where they found Naomi’s wild family, so the usual pushing games began. Laikipia took Naomi’s elder boy, and they dominated the scene, playing together, and feeding together until Naomi decided to take her family away, when Laikipia went along too. Half an hour later he returned.

22 August 2005

It was another very hot day, so the orphans came early to the mudbath. Natumi had a wonderful time sitting on her buttocks and striking water with both her foreleg and trunk. Burra soil dusted happily, tossing his trunk skywards, whilst Ndara took a little scratch of the banks of the waterhole. Laikipia used his trunk to hold and assist Mpala to get up from the soil pile. Solango used the finger of his trunk to pick off a tick from his right eye, assisted by the Keepers. He then engaged Lolokwe in a tough pushing match.

23 August 2005

After a happy tame of chasing each other and sliding on the soft soil near the Stockade in the morning, the orphans went to feed on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. After a wonderful mudbath, they went to the Northern lower slopes of the bill.

24 August 2005

At l0 a.m. a group of 5 wild elephant cows and their calves went to drink at the orphants’ water bins, but left before the arrival of our group. At the mudbath Mpala and Edie competed to be best entertainer, whilst Sosian challenged them by sliding down the bank on his bottom. However, Mweya’s mischievous games of rolling in the mud won her all the favours of the others, who surrounded her to crown her swimmer of the day! She proudly went to scratch her buttocks on the bank closely followed by Laikipia, who had admired her beautiful games!

25 August 2005

It was a clear hot day, so the orphans thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath. Morani lay down in the water whilst Loisaba splashed it over him using her trunk. Loisaba then lay down, hoping for the same treatment from the others, who ignored her and instead went to dust themselves. Meanwhile Laikipia and Burra were occupied digging out the bank using their tusks. Emily’s group joined the babies on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill at 4 p.m. when all the babies tossed their trunks to touch her, exploring her whole body. They did the same to Aitong and Sally when they arrived a short time later, and the entire group went together to the Stockade. Emily’s group left at 6.30 p.m.

26 August 2005

It was cooler today, so having fed on the N. side of the hill, only a few of the orphans went into the mudbath. Lolokwe and Ndara played a pushing game in the water whilst Salama and Natumi lay on the soil pile rolling and mounting onto one another. Emily, Aitong and Sally same to the Stockade at 4.40 p.m. We noticed that they had gained weight. Having drunk water, they went round all the Stockades, greeting the babies, before leaving at 7.10 p.m.

27 August 2005

Icholta led the orphans to the main Park today, browsing slowly as they went. Mweya and Lolokwe soil dusted exuberantly sitting on the soil facing one another, tossing their trunks in the air. Ilingwezi enjoyed a good scratch, whilst Solango and Edie took centre stage for a pushing game, which was disrupted by Icholta and Tsavo.

28 August 2005

It was a cool morning, with drizzling rain, which made the orphans very happy. They went high up the hill to feed. At the mudbath, Morani lay down whilst Laikipia used his foreleg to splash water onto him. Loisaba enjoyed a good scratch on the bank.

29 August 2005

It looked like rain today, which made the orphans very happy. Burra and Nyiro were the leaders today, and since it was cool, the orphans only came down to the mudbath at 1 p.m. They returned to feed at the foot of the hill in the afternoon.

30 August 2005

There was a light shower this morning, which again made the orphans very happy. They charged around trumpeting. For the first time this month Mweiga played a game of hide and seek with her closest friend, Sosian. The orphans fed on the lower slopes of the hill all day.

31 August 2005

There were more light showers in the morning when the orphans left the Stockade. They went far up the Southern side of Mazinga Hill, and never went to the mudbath today, because they drank at the Stockade. The afternoon was spent feeding on the Eastern side of the Hill. Other Notes:- Emily, aitong and Sally, who are now receiving Copra cake, have shown a great improvement in condition. Aitong’s breasts are growing very large now, so the Keepers are sure she is pregnant. Mweiga has also shown a great improvement since the supplement foods were available to her.