Keepers' Diaries, August 2012

Voi Reintegration Unit

The Voi Orphans’ priority of trying to find sufficient browse to satisfy hunger during this exceptionally harsh dry season within Tsavo, was diverted by the rescue of Panda, a 2 year old female orphan from Mgeno Ranch abutting Tsavo, who was sufficiently old enough to be able to bypass the Nursery. She was taken into the new “Taming Stockade” at the Voi Stockades and very warmly welcomed by all the Voi orphans, especially the Big Girls, Lesanju, Lempaute, Wasessa, Kenia, Ndii and Sinya who crowded around her stockade reaching in trunks to comfort and calm. Little Panda has been the focus of all the Big Girls’ attention ever since, especially Wasessa and Lesanju who have come to an arrangement whereby they “share” possession of her, while Kenia, Lempaute and Ndii have to be content with odd moments when the other two Big Girls are not looking. So far, only Sinya seems to have given up even trying to get close to the newcomer!

01 August 2012

As soon as the orphans are let out of their Night Quarters, it is always fun time. Today they played in pairs - Ndii with Rombo, Mzima with Taveta (side-lining Tassia who had to be content as an onlooker while the Big females all concentrated on the “baby” of the group, little “Panda”, overseen by Ex Orphan Ndara who watched all the antics like a referee! Thereafter the day passed as usual, without a mudbath, since the weather was chilly.

02 August 2012

Today Taveta paid Panda attention as the orphans emerged in the morning, but the Big Girls, especially Kenia and Wasessa, rapidly moved in to take possession of her from him. Lesanju was quick to notice and came to take Panda for herself, knowing that Panda would spend the day at the Stockades for a further few days until she could be trusted not to run away. In the evening Ndii came running ahead of all the others to be closest to Panda.

03 August 2012

It was a cool day, so the orphans were reluctant to take their mudbath at noon until Shimba took the initiative, followed then by Taveta and Ndii. Lempaute noticed Ndii lying on Taveta and moved in to push her off, thereafter guarding Taveta against any rough play in the mud. Later they browsed close to the waterhole until it was time to head home, Rombo taking the lead back.

04 August 2012

Up until noon, browsing dominates the orphans’ day. At the mudbath Sinya who normally does not like bathing, surprised everyone by being first in, watched in astonishment by all the others. Wasessa and Lesanju decided to offer some competition, while Ndii again lay on top of Taveta so that he could not partake in the pool games. Tassia then climbed on Ndii, enabling Taveta to exit the wallow. The rest of the day was spent browsing as usual.

05 August 2012

Today Kivuko took a mudbath aside from the others while Wasessa was overseeing Dabassa, Rombo and Emsaya, watching them closely. Layoni and Mzima enjoyed a rub against the walls of the mudbath until Layoni joined Taveta in the pool. Later the orphans took a rest under a tree until it was time to resume browsing as they headed back home.

06 August 2012

The orphans moved in single file out to browse. At the noon mudbath Dabassa and Shimba were the stars of the day. When the orphans returned in the evening, a wild elephant cow and her calf were drinking from the Stockade water trough whom Taveta went to greet before taking his milk. The wild pair hung around the Stockades for about l0 minutes before leaving.

07 August 2012

It was browsing as usual, each elephant searching for every edible piece to try and fill their large stomach. At the mudbath Shimba and Mzima enjoyed a wallow together, the others sheltering under trees since it was a hot day.

08 August 2012

At the noon mudbath an elephant “Tsunami” was narrowly avoided when Taveta lay on Wasessa instead of his target, Emsaya. Wasessa was furious, so Taveta rapidly made himself scarce thus avoiding the invariable retribution from Wasessa!

09 August 2012

Today the orphans browsed Mazinga hill, and returned to the Stockades for their noon milk and a mudbath, thereafter returning to browse the hill again.

10 August 2012

As soon as the Orphans emerged in the morning Wasessa took Panda for a dustbath, much to Emsaya’s discomfort, for she had always been the favourite. Layoni and Rombo came to comfort her. Meanwhile Ndara fed on the supplements and Ndii, who is very fond of Panda, went for a dustbath. Taveta attempted to mount onto Rombo, who took evasive action, despite being trailed by Taveta until Kenia tempted him to a lying down game. Wasessa kept a very close watch on Panda throughout the day, since this was Panda’s first day out with the others in the field. A light shower fell.

11 August 2012

Lempaute stood on a rock, overseeing the Stockade games in the morning. She came down to try and gain possession of Panda, but was denied this by Lesanju. There was competition at noon between Lempaute and Wasessa as to who should escort Panda. Wasessa won out, remaining close also to Emsaya, who has become a little jealous of Panda having usurped her privileged position as Wasessa’s favourite.

12 August 2012

It was a hot day by the time the orphans arrived at the noon mudbath. Rombo was first in the mudwallow, but was pushed out by Ndii who plunged in straight after him. Taveta then went in to provide competition for Ndii, Lesanju coming between the two to keep the peace.

13 August 2012

At the mudbath Dabassa and Rombo teamed up to both lie on top of Taveta, blocking Tassia, who came in on Taveta’s side. Ndii then reinforced the team against Taveta, almost drowning him. He bellowed his distress which brought Wasessa in, closely followed by Emsaya. After Emsaya had enjoyed a short wallow, all exited the mudbath.

14 August 2012

Kenia did her best to take possession of little Panda as the orphans browsed this morning, wooing the baby with tender trunk touches whenever she was behind Wasessa, who noticed Kenia’s intention, and threatened strong resistance. Kenia bellowed a warning as Wasessa moved towards her, before moving off herself.

15 August 2012

As the Orphans moved to the Middle waterhole at noon, they met a wild herd of elephants. Wasessa and Mzima enjoyed playing with wild age mates. As the wild herd moved off, one wild calf remained behind with the orphans, and upon noticing the Keepers began panicking. The Orphans escorted the calf back to its wild family in a high state of excitement, after which they ran around kicking the water barrels, until the Keepers intervened to stop them.

16 August 2012

Lempaute was very happy to be close to little Panda during the morning browsing session until Lesanju moved in to take charge, Wasessa respecting her Matriarchal ranking.

17 August 2012

Panda is becoming stronger, and is well integrated into the unit now. All the Big Girls except Sinya show great interest in her and Panda relishes their attention.

18 August 2012

Today Lesanju lay down close to the edge of the mudwallow urging Panda to join her, but Sinya and Lempaute diverted Panda’s attention to prevent her doing so. Meanwhile Wasessa was in the middle of the mudbath, and upon noticing Lesanju’s intention, became disturbed and moved out to be close to Panda.

19 August 2012

There was a light drizzle of rain at 4.30 p.m. Layoni and Tassia enjoyed rolling in the damp earth at the base of Mazinga hill. Meanwhile Taveta and Dabassa enjoyed a pushing game which lasted until Lesanju trumpeted that it was time to return in the evening.

20 August 2012

There was light rain in the morning as the orphans left their Night Quarters. The rain was a blessing during this extremely dry spell. Taveta and Tassia enjoyed a Pushing Match, but apart from that, the day passed as usual.

21 August 2012

The Orphans joined a wild herd at the Middle Waterhole at noon, all drinking together from the water barrels. Amongst the wild herd was a tiny calf, whom the orphans eyed, but the baby’s two older sisters made sure that the orphans kept their distance. The wild group then left heading in the direction of the Voi River.

22 August 2012

At the mudbath, the orphans tried to chase off a couple of warthogs who had come for a wallow, but the warthogs merely ran round and round the mudbath until the orphans gave up! In the end the warthogs took a drink instead, keeping a close eye on the orphans.

23 August 2012

Kenia and Ndii had the monopoly of little Panda during the night, but in the morning Wasessa hurried in to take possession. However, out in the field Lesanju took possession of Panda, thereafter sharing her with Wasessa. Wasessa respects Lesanju’s seniority.

24 August 2012

Shimba wasted no time in climbing up the eastern side of Mazinga Hill today, leaving the others half way up. He remained there the entire day, not coming down for his noon milk and mudbath. In the evening the Keepers had to climb the hill in order to bring him down. Shimba has always been the climber of the group.

25 August 2012

All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath, except Shimba who did not go in. Afterwards Panda became the centre of attention as usual, Lesanju, Wasessa and Lempaute all crowding around her, something that went on for the rest of the day.

26 August 2012

Ex Orphan Tsavo who was originally part of Emily’s group, but who was last seen with Lissa’s family, came to drink alone at the Stockades in the evening. He is a Big Boy now, with massive tusks. He hung around the Stockades for about an hour before moving off.

27 August 2012

A wild herd of elephants just missed the Orphans at the mudbath today, but enjoyed finishing off the clean water in the barrels. Shimba, who was trailing the Orphan herd, detected their presence, and turned back to join them, but then had second thoughts as they were moving off.

28 August 2012

Panda joined the others in the mudbath today. A wild herd who had visited the mud wallow earlier passed by heading towards the northern side of Mazinga Hill. Wasessa and Mzima led their colleagues to join them briefly, but the wild herd were moving fast, so the orphans turned back.

29 August 2012

Following the usual Stockade games, which were accompanied by trumpets and rumbles, Wasessa and Panda led the group out to browse on the eastern side of Mazinga hill. Rombo and Shimba then climbed higher up the hill, where they spent most of the morning, coming down for their milk and noon mudbath. All enjoyed the mudbath today.

30 August 2012

When the orphans arrived at their mudbath, there were many others there – warthogs, zebras, waterbucks and elands. Before taking water the orphans chased off all the intruders, Layoni pursuing them as far as the Park airstrip before coming back, highly charged, intercepted en route by Lesanju who ran off to retrieve him.

31 August 2012

Emsaya has held a grudge against Panda ever since she won Wasessa’s affection. She knocked Panda down while she was taking milk. Wasessa reacted immediately, chasing off Emsaya and comforting Panda with tender trunk touches. The Keepers were vigilant for the rest of the day, ensuring that Emsaya did not knock Panda down again. Others:- Emily’s group of Ex orphans has not been seen this month, obviously further afield with the wild elephant herds. The Keepers believe that they must be alright, otherwise at least some of them would have come back had they encountered trouble. The Dida Harea wind Pump was repaired with three new pipes installed, so all three of the Trust windmills are now working perfectly.