Keepers' Diaries, August 2010

Voi Reintegration Unit

With the Park rapidly drying, the Voi orphans have had a busy time finding browse to fill their bellies so most of their time has been involved in the search of food rather than having fun and games. Fortunately, there is a reserve left within the fenced KWS compound, which the orphans have been enjoying.

01 August 2010

This morning Kimana had a swollen back leg. Lesanju seemed to understand his predicament, and gave him a lot of attention. They browsed during the month, searching for vegetation between the rocks of Mazinga Hill, returned to the Stockade for their milk and a mudbath at noon, and continued browsing in the afternoon close to the Stockades, due to Kimana’s leg.

02 August 2010

The swelling on Kimana’s leg was very visible today. All the orphans remained close to him as they browsed not far from the Stockades, to save him having to walk far. When they were taking their milk at noon back at the Stockades a wild herd comprised of 3 adults and one small calf came to drink at the Stockade trough. Shimba, Tassia and Sinya were very attracted to the calf. Siria attempted to mount the wild calf, who ran off to his mother. Thereafter, the wild herd enjoyed the Stockade mudbath, closely watched by the orphans, who tried to prevent the wild calf from joining the herd once he came out of the mudwallow. Lesanju led the orphans in the opposite direction to that taken by the wild herd, not wanting to share her unit.

03 August 2010

Having emerged in the morning, the orphans enjoyed their usual Stockade games, scratching against rocks and chasing one another about before moving off for a lengthy feeding session. Having been given an injection, Kimana fed close by surrounded by the others. The mudbath took place at the Stockades, after which the orphans resumed feeding nearby.

04 August 2010

Kimana was much improved today, so the orphans were able to venture further afield to feed. Kenia extended a great deal of love and assurance to Kimana, who is her favourite, touching him gently with her trunk and remaining very close to him, while Lesanju came back to see him now and then to establish his condition. The reached the main Park waterhole today where they had a lot of fun. Siria and Mzima enjoyed a pushing bout while squatting down. After mudbath they resumed browsing, returning to the Stockades in the evening.

05 August 2010

Kimana’s swollen leg was a lot improved today, but he developed another strange swelling under his belly and has lost condition. Taveta and Dida kept close to him throughout the day as they browsed. During a routine motorized patrol the Keepers came across Emily in the company of 2 wild bulls, who were very aggressive and chased the vehicle. Some of the Ex orphans who normally accompany her were there, but not all. As we were leaving they moved into a Grewia thicket.

06 August 2010

It was a cloudy day as the orphans moved slowly towards the middle mudwallow in the main Park. There they took their milk and some water, but decided against a wallow, concentrating instead on trying to fill their stomachs before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

07 August 2010

The orphans were anxious to browse in the main Park today, Kimana keeping up with them. They enjoyed the mudbath at noon after taking their milk, Kimana keeping well clear of the others who were being quite rambunctious in the wallow. Later they browsed around the waterhole until it was time to return in the evening.

08 August 2010

Emily’s entire group was with her and again sited with the 2 wild bulls on Sagalla Ranch. It was an amazing sight to see so many orphans with the wild bulls. Closeby were four other wild herds feasting on the Grewia bushes. They took water at the Ranch waterhole where a lot of other wild animals drink.

09 August 2010

The day began well, except that the Keepers noticed a swelling on the belly of Ndii similar to that of Kimana. However, she did not appear unwell at all and was as active as usual throughout the day. The Keepers noticed ticks on her belly, which were removed with Frontline Spray but the swelling remained. The orphans enjoyed their noon mudbath and returned happy and well fed in the evening.

10 August 2010

Today the orphans browsed on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill, but had to seek shade as the day turned hot. Kimana enjoyed suckling Kenia’s ear whilst she was stationary while Siria, Lesanju and Lempaute scratched themselves against a tree, Siria becoming impatient and pushing the others to get pride of place at the tree. As the temperature dropped, they resumed browsing before returning to the Stockade in the evening.

11 August 2010

The orphans set out to browse early to take advantage of the cool of the day, Wasessa and Shimba not wasting any time filling their mouths with dry creepers and grass. Kenia introduced Kimana, Ndii and Dida to the Acacia pods, which they all enjoyed greatly, the Keepers helping to gather up the pods for them. They returned to the Stockades in the evening.

12 August 2010

Ndii and Dida competed for a stick which both wanted to eat, an elephant at each end trying to pull the stick into their mouth! Fortunately, it broke in half, so each got their share! Mzima played close to Kimana to amuse him. All went well during the day and all returned happily in the evening.

13 August 2010

Today Mzima led the other orphans to their milk venue. During the mudbath Shimba tried to mount onto Taveta, but Sinya intervened, engaging Taveta in an amazing waterhole game. Instead Mzima went to lie on Siria as he lay in the mud. They fed close to the waterhole for the remainder of the day, and just missed meeting a large wild herd, who came to drink as the orphans were heading home.

14 August 2010

The orphans began browsing as soon as they reached the main Park. At the mudbath Kimana steered well clear of the exuberant other orphans who were having a lot of fun in the mud. After an afternoon browsing they returned home in the evening.

15 August 2010

Njia, our ex orphan Kudu was spotted feeding amongst a wild kudu group in the main Park. He came close to greet the Keepers, but dashed off with the others when the Keepers attempted to touch him. He had previously been seen with Mkuki and Aruba, the two other ex kudu orphans, but has since changed his allegiance to the wild group. Njia has always been shy and does not like being handled.

16 August 2010

Kimana seems much improved today. He enjoyed chasing the baboons who came to steal the Copra cake and then challenged Dida to a pushing match. All enjoyed the mudbath today, rolling around in the mud. The afternoon was spent browsing before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

17 August 2010

The wild group that have been frequent visitors to the stockade water trough returned at 6.30 p.m. when the orphans were already in their Night Stockades. The playful wild baby obviously missed her friends, for she came to the Stockade entrance to give them a trunk wave. The Group hung around the Stockades for some time before moving off to Mazinga Hill.

18 August 2010

The orphans moved from the Stockades in single file today like soldiers until they reached the browsing area. Siria and Mzima enjoyed scratching their bodies against a tree. They took their milk, but were not interested in a mudbath because it was too cold. Taveta led the way back in the evening.

19 August 2010

The orphans were in an exuberant mood as they browsed along the north face of Mazinga Hill. Lesanju led them to the waterhole at noon, and having taken their milk, they all plunged in to enjoy a wonderful wallow. Wasessa signaled the time to return to browsing . On the way back to the Stockades in the evening, the Keepers had to chase off two rock hyraxes in the path, who were scaring the elephants!

20 August 2010

Lesanju led the orphans from the Stockades this morning, but Kenia took over from her when she halted to wait for Kimana to catch up, touching him with her trunk to reassure him. The orphans enjoyed browsing within the Park Compound fenceline, which cannot be accessed by the wild elephants, and consequently has a lot of browse for the Youngsters. In the evening Tassia and Taveta engaged one another in a head butting session.

21 August 2010

On a warm day, the orphans left the stockades to browse, Mzima and Siria pusing and shoving one another on the way, but soon realized that it was more productive to begin feeding! Wasessa, Tassia, Taveta and Shimba remained close together as they browsed. At noon Wasessa encouraged her favourite, Tassia, to join her in the wallow and later fed close to the waterhole until time to return in the evening.

22 August 2010

Lesanju led the group out to browse with few games during the morning. They took their milk and mudbath at the Stockade which is not far from the fenced compound. The same friendly wild herd came to drink at the stockades when the elephants were already ensconced for the night. Kenia, Taveta, Tassia and Ndii rumbled a greeting to them and the herd, including the wild calf, hung around the Stockades for a long time before leaving.

23 August 2010

Having entered the browsing area in the morning, the Keepers and the orphans encountered a large male lion head on. The lion stood up to take a look from close range before moving off into a nearby bush. Shaking with fear, the Keepers and the elephants changed direction hurriedly, the elephants sticking close to the Keepers all day long!

24 August 2010

The orphans had a good appetite today. Wasessa emerged with her ears standing up again. (For some time ever since lying on one ear, it has been bent downwards). Before returning to the Stockades in the evening she enjoyed a wrestling game with Siria and Mzima and later Mzima lay on Siria whilst he was lying down, which annoyed Siria. However, there was no time for revenge because the others were already heading back to the Stockades.

25 August 2010

The orphans enjoyed Stockade Games before moving to the feeding grounds. Eager to return to the KWS fenced compound, they enjoyed feeding on the untouched browse inside, spending the entire day there, returning only to take their milk and water before returning again.

26 August 2010

Kenia led the orphans to take their milk first thing in the morning, spending time with Kimana who is still limping slightly on the hind leg. Siria and Mzima enjoyed their usual pushing context. At the mudbath Kimana and Dida did not go in, but instead splashed water over themselves.

27 August 2010

Mzima was badly behaved this morning. In the rush to get his milk first, he knocked down Tassia and head butted Sinya mercilessly. The Keepers took him away to have his milk apart from the others. Siria, who is his friend, approached him having taken his milk, and was met with an angry head butt. Out in the field he had little time for the others, but concentrated on finding enough browse, which is becoming scarce.

28 August 2010

The orphans enjoyed their usual Stockade games, having fun in the pile of red earth near their mudbath venue. Siria and Mzima engaged one another standing on a rock. They gave browsing priority today, but for a very brief mudbath.

29 August 2010

Again the morning was spent on serious browsing with few games. However, at the mudbath the action began, tempting Kimana to exit the wallow because his colleagues were becoming overly exuberant. Wasessa grabbed Lesanju’s leg to pull her back into the water after she had got out, but Lesanju ignored the summons and went to join the others in a dustbath instead.

30 August 2010

It was a quiet feeding morning until mudbath time, when Taveta jumped into the wallow as the others were debating about going in. However, they took their queue from him and piled in forcing Taveta out, who opted to join Ndii in a soil bath instead. Shimba came out a few moments later and lay down in the warm earth. Siria lay in the water, and had Wasessa, Mzima and Lempaute sitting on him, so he got out and took revenge on Mzima. Having taken a rest under a tree for a while, they browsed their way slowly back to the Stockades.

31 August 2010

Lesanju led the group out to browse, the memory of the lion encounter still fresh in all minds, which made her stop nervously now and then. The Keepers then decided to take the lead. The orphans fed calmly for the first half of the day split into two groups as usual, before the younger set moved to the milk venue, Lesanju having sneaked her way into their group. After all had taken their milk and a mudbath Siria tried to mount Lempaute while Mzima tried the same on Kenia. They browsed higher up Mazinga Hill in the afternoon before returning to the mudbath. Others:- The month has been very dry, so the orphans have had to concentrate on getting sufficient to fill their bellies rather than in play. Heartbreak stalked the month with the illness of Kimana. For several days we feared for his life, but he seems to be getting better now, although he has lost a lot of weight. Emily’s Ex Orphans are all on Sagalla Ranch along with a lot of wild elephant herds. This Ranch borders Ngutuni on the Southern side, and has nutritious browse in the form of Grewia and Acacias. Efforts to drive them back into the Park proved fruitless, because the bulls are very aggressive, and also there are a lot of buffalo in the thick bush. The Elephant Grid on the main approach road to Park HQ has been repaired with metal pipes put in place, and massive renovation of the Voi Stockades is now proceeding to give the Stockades a face-lift.