Keepers' Diaries, August 2011

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Drought conditions again prevail in the Southern Section of Tsavo so browse within the orbit of the Keeper Dependent orphans is scarce. Hence supplementary feeding on Lucerne and Copra has become part of the daily routine for the elephants to help them maintain condition during another very challenging dry year. This has also been enjoyed on several occasions by some of the Ex Orphans such as Emily and others who came with her as well as Ex orphan Lissa’s family. Wild elephants have partaken on one occasion as well and regularly come to drink at the Voi Stockade water trough. It has been an exciting month for the Dependent Juniors with plenty of interaction with wild elephant herds. On the 2nd the Orphans shared their water bins at the mudbath venue with a wild herd, met another herd en route to the mudbath the next day when Wasessa focused on the small baby of a very big wild cow with long tusks and on the 22nd a wild herd actually accompanied the orphans to their noon mudbath and shared the water bins with them. Later on that day a very large wild bull with enormous tusks turned up to join them, but the orphans were in awe of him and chose to watch him from a distance! However, on the 24th Lesanju and Siria were allowed to play with a wild calf belonging to the wild herd they joined briefly. They have even tolerated the presence of a large male impala and two waterbucks at the water bins, allowing them access without chasing them off, which is unusual and illustrates understanding on the part of the orphans. They are not usually so accommodating to wild intruders other than other elephants.

Drought conditions again prevail in the Southern Section of Tsavo so browse within the orbit of the Keeper Dependent orphans is scarce. Hence supplementary feeding on Lucerne and Copra has become part of the daily routine for the elephants to help them maintain condition during another very challenging dry year. This has also been enjoyed on several occasions by some of the Ex Orphans such as Emily and others who came with her as well as Ex orphan Lissa’s family. Wild elephants have partaken on one occasion as well and regularly come to drink at the Voi Stockade water trough.

It has been an exciting month for the Dependent Juniors with plenty of interaction with wild elephant herds. On the 2nd the Orphans shared their water bins at the mudbath venue with a wild herd, met another herd en route to the mudbath the next day when Wasessa focused on the small baby of a very big wild cow with long tusks and on the 22nd a wild herd actually accompanied the orphans to their noon mudbath and shared the water bins with them. Later on that day a very large wild bull with enormous tusks turned up to join them, but the orphans were in awe of him and chose to watch him from a distance! However, on the 24th Lesanju and Siria were allowed to play with a wild calf belonging to the wild herd they joined briefly. They have even tolerated the presence of a large male impala and two waterbucks at the water bins, allowing them access without chasing them off, which is unusual and illustrates understanding on the part of the orphans. They are not usually so accommodating to wild intruders other than other elephants.

Emily and her calf Eve, were accompanied by Sweet Sally, Vita and Irima when they visited the Stockades on the 15th for the first time this month. Unfortunately, the Juniors had already left, but Emily’s group enjoyed a Lucerne handout. The Keepers noted that Emily was eager to drive Irima off. He is now aged 13 when he should naturally separate from his female family to seek the company of other bulls. Feeling dory for him, the Keepers gave him a pile of Lucerne slightly apart from the others to ensure that he got his share. The very next day Emily’s group was back twice for a morning and evening handout of Lucerne, again with Irima in tow but again just missing the Juniors. However, on the l8th they came in time to interact with the Junior Orphans actually at the Stockades during the morning Lucerne feed and all played together, Sweet Sally engaging Siria in a friendly tussle. Lesanju dislikes sharing her unit with older Matriarchs, and shepherded Dida away, later managing to entice her entire group away from Emily’s unit while they were still busy feeding. However, the Lesanju’s family then bumped into another wild group who on this occasion allowed Lesanju access to a small calf belonging to a very large wild cow with long tusks. Lesanju was beside herself with excitement, gently pulling the baby towards her and encouraging it to suckle her dry breasts before the mother repossessed her calf again! That same day Emily’s group returned again in the afternoon for another Lucerne feed.

The Diary records a large “Party” at the Stockades on the l9th. Emily’s usual group (minus Irima) came to join the Juniors, followed initially by Lissa and her last born calf, Lugard and later by the rest of Lissa’s family, who came down from feeding on Mazinga Hill to be with them. All intermingled happily as one large family, Sweet Sally lying down so that Eve could clamber over her, which is always a favourite pastime for the very young. Next to arrive was Irima accompanied by Lissa’s second born, Lali . Then came a friendly wild herd to join the large group, forming one very large aggregation of elephants at the Stockades. Sweet Sally enjoyed playing with a wild cow before moving off to allow Irima to take over. The Junior females such as Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya and Wasessa were focused on little Eve, who enjoyed being the centre of attention, always under the eagle eye of Sweet Sally.

The next day Lissa and Lugard came for a handout of Lucerne, without the rest of the family, who turned up at midnight for a quick drink before moving on to an undisclosed destination. But the next day Emily’s group turned up again when Mzima challenged Vita to a tussle, and Sweet Sally again lay down for little Eve. Lesanju and Wasessa together then attempted to hijack Eve, but Sweet Sally moved in rapidly to regain possession of her special baby.

The orphaned ostrich, apparently named “Rafiki” (the friend) by the Keepers, joined some wild ostriches and eventually turned up at the Voi Safari Lodge Staff quarters, so relieved and happy to be with humans again that she put on a dancing display. However, this scared the Lodge Staff who took to their rooms and contacted KWS! The Keepers then went to retrieve “Rafiki” who was overjoyed to be found by them, and happily accompanied them back home.

The Ex orphaned kudus, Mkuki and Aruba visited the Stockades again at the end of the month, and the third orphaned kudu, Njia, who is with another wild kudu group has also been seen. It is good to know that they are safe and sound.

For some time Wasessa has had a bent ear, which flops forward. It was a surprise to the Keepers when overnight it appears to have returned back to normal! Let’s hope it stays that way! In all, it has been a very happy month for the Voi orphans. Both Lesanju and Wasessa are very attentive to Dida, who is not as strong as the others. Both pay her special attention and care and are always watching out for her. Mzima and Siria’s mudbath tussle is recorded in the Diary. Siria was playing with Taveta in the mudbath, his game interrupted by Siria. Mzima then bit Siria’s trunk and when he emerged was confronted by Siria, but lost his nerve and fled. During this process Siria managed to bite Mzima’s tail causing him to scream and scare all the others. Not understanding the reason for Mzima’s scream, they then fled to the Keepers, while Siria, feeling somewhat guilty, absented himself briefly from the rest of the group! Boys will be Boys!

August 2011 day to day

01 Aug

Drought conditions in the Southern part of Tsavo have impacted on the available browse around Mazinga hill and within range of the Voi Stockades, so the orphans are having supplementary rations now in the form of Lucerne and Dairy cubes. Today they fed halfway up the Eastern side of Mazinga hill where there is still some vegetation, enjoyed a wallow at the Stockades when Taveta and Ndii enjoyed an interesting dusting game, tossing chunks of red earth into the air and Lesanju gave Dida a lot of t.l.c.

Lesanju gives Dida a hug

Taveta on the right playing in the mud

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