Keepers' Diaries, August 2016

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The weather fluctuated this month between hot and cold. On the cold days the orphans avoided the mud bath, but they relished being able to cool off on hotter days! Tassia and Taveta visited the Stockades this month returning after a long absence to join the orphans in the morning for lucerne and supplements. The dependent orphans were always happy to see them and share their supplements so the two semi-independent bulls took to returning most mornings in order to share the dependent orphans’ supplements. Taveta also enjoyed frolicking with the dependent babies in the mud bath, focusing on Panda and Ndii both of whom love the water.

The weather fluctuated this month between hot and cold. On the cold days the orphans avoided the mud bath, but they relished being able to cool off on hotter days! Tassia and Taveta visited the Stockades this month returning after a long absence to join the orphans in the morning for lucerne and supplements. The dependent orphans were always happy to see them and share their supplements so the two semi-independent bulls took to returning most mornings in order to share the dependent orphans’ supplements. Taveta also enjoyed frolicking with the dependent babies in the mud bath, focusing on Panda and Ndii both of whom love the water.

The orphans have interacted with many wild elephant herds this month amongst whom were youngsters of their own age. On occasions they mischievously tried to spirit these calves away in order to play and browse with them away from the watchful eyes of their mothers, but the mothers and older siblings in the wild herds were aware of such intentions and thwarted their efforts. Youngsters Arruba and Suswa were often guilty of this, and along with Rorogoi, Mudanda and Ndii who relish the wild interactions.

Whenever Embu was tempted to follow a wild herd, the Keepers managed to call her back successfully, possibly due to the bad experience she suffered a couple of months ago. That lion mauling obviously remains still fresh in her memory, so she is mindful of not being lost and alone in the bush again and as such, a target for the lions! However, she still seems to have a strong impulse to be wild again, always tempted to join and follow the wild herds. The Keepers continue to keep an eye on her as she has still not regained peak condition since her ordeal.

Mudanda is prone to jealousy, despite comforting attention from Ndii. Such fits are directed at the cosseted baby, Araba. Being the youngest in the orphan herd, Araba is still the firm favourite of Kenia, who keeps a close eye on her at all times. She is also one of the greediest and the orphans feeding close to her always finish their milk bottles in record time, to avoid them being taken by Araba. Ndoria is still up to her ‘tail biting’ antics, usually targeting Mudanda and Araba which keeps them alert in order to avoid this unfortunate practice.

Bada was trying to build up strength this month and Tundani was good enough not to use all his strength when wrestling with this smaller opponent. Tundani is a peaceful little bull not prone to protracted pushing games. When Nelion approaches him for a wrestling match, he usually moves away in order to avoid becoming engaged.

On the 3rd the Voi Keepers rescued a calf who had wounds on her back having been mauled by a lion. She was also extremely emaciated and despite our best efforts she kept collapsing into a coma and, sadly, never made it. Then at the end of the month we received a report of a speared mother elephant who had died on Rombo Group Ranch near Tsavo West with a calf at her side. The baby was over three years of age, but despite intensive searching, both on foot and from the air, the calf has not been found, and hopefully has been able to join a wild herd.

This month the greatest joy and surprise came on the 10th of the month, when Ex orphan Lissa, (now 30 years old, and who had been absent for some three years) returned with a new-born male calf just a few months old, whom we have named Leo. The Keepers gave her a bale of lucerne to congratulate her, which Lissa appreciated enormously returning the next day for more along with her little calf, and the day after that with some of her older babies. Lissa has now given birth to five wild born calves! She then again surprised the Keepers by returning with her entire family amongst whom was her oldest calf Lara, who was with her very own baby daughter whom we named Leah- Lissa’s first grandchild. There is no greater reward for the Keepers than that of seeing their old charges return to show them their very own babies!

It seems that this has been a month of reunions, because towards the end of the month, on the 21st, Lesanju’s herd came back to the Voi Stockades, comprised of herself, Lempaute, Sinya, Kivuko, Mzima, Dabassa and Layoni, all of whom had not been seen for over a month. They drank from the stockade compound water trough for some time and then settled down to feast on lucerne which they had obviously missed whilst absent. We were delighted to see that they were all healthy and well. The next day they met up with the dependent orphans for the first time in a long while, Ishaq-B warmly greeted her friend Lesanju again. As usual Kenia was not best pleased to see the return of Lesanju’s herd, since she likes to keep the Leadership role to herself and enjoy the full attention of her dependent herd! This is always compromised when Lesanju and Lempaute return and usurp her role over the now twenty eight other orphans. Over the following days she went out of her way to move her herd out of the compound quickly in order to avoid a reunion! Over the next few days the Ex Orphans came to the Stockade compound for water, to socialize and enjoy the supplement hand out. We are sure that Lissa’s return as well as that of Lesanju is due to the extensive dry season, knowing that both food and water will be available back at the stockades.

August 2016 day to day

01 Aug

Taveta arrived around 8am this morning, missing the stockade dependant orphans who had left for the browsing ground an hour before. As usual he waited for his equal share of copra cake that was given to him by the keepers in the stockade, before he left to go back into the park half an hour later. The stockade dependant orphans had browsed their way to the far northern side of the stockade with Ishaq-B and Mashariki taking each other on in a leadership contest. Kenia stuck off with her adopted baby Araba while Ndii was seen browsing closely with Bada. Neither Taveta nor Tassia caught up with the stockade dependant orphans today. Later in the afternoon Taveta came into the stockade at 5.20pm, after all the dependent orphans were already in their stockades and browsing on the grewia branches. At 6pm, a big wild herd of elephants came in and assembled to drink clean water from the stockade water trough. Taveta fell in love with the wild elephant calves but could not interact with them very well as their brothers and sisters were guarding them. Taveta went around and around trying to get access to them but in vain. The wild herd hung around the stockade for half an hour before leaving back into the bush, leaving Taveta who then moved off later that night.

Taveta at the stockade

Mashariki right and Ishaq-B both wanting to lead

Wild herd having a drink at the stockade

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