Keepers' Diaries, December 2000

Voi Reintegration Unit

The reappearance of Chuma, after an absence of many years as a wild elephant, has been an exciting event this month. Chuma is a little older than the first Nursery elephant, Olmeg, having been born a few months earlier in 1987, and given directly into Eleanor's custody. After such a long absence, he was nevertheless greeted very warmly by the older orphans who would remember him but also by the younger set of bulls who have never met him, but who have obviously been "introduced" as part of the extended "Orphan Family".

01 December 2000

All the orphans left the Stockades together in the morning, as usual, and wallowed together at 11.30 a.m. At l0 a.m. they encountered 3 buffaloes, and Emily and Imenti gave chase, whilst Natumi's group charged here and there with ears raised. At 2 p.m. Salama, Nyiro and Laikipia (all little bulls) played with a young wild calf of their size. Back at the Stockades in the evening Aitong and Imenti played together for sometime.

02 December 2000

All left together as usual, but Natumi's group was frightened by a flock of weavers, and charged around with ears raised! Soon afterwards they ran into 9 wild elephants, of whom they were scared, rushing towards the Keepers for protection. However, Aitong and Loisaba mingled with the wild elephants, and remained with them after the others had all moved off. They caught up with Emily's group later on and joined the babies at the mudbath, where Nyiro and Lolokwe had a wonderful romp with Aitong - all taking turns to lean, mount and push each other around in the mud.

03 December 2000

Soon after leaving the Stockades, a herd of buffalo ran past the orphans, terrifying Nyiro, who screamed and ran to the Keepers. Chuma then joined the orphans for a short time before heading off up the hill to feed. Two other large wild elephants the size of Dika also turned up with whom Salama and Laikipia spent time. After the mudbath Emily's group, including Loisaba, spent time with another wild herd.

04 December 2000

All the orphans left the Stockades together, but then at 7.30 a.m. Emily's group separated from the babies, rejoining them again at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m. a wild herd of five turned up with whom the orphans spent time. Ilingwezi and Emily had a marvellous time playing hide and seek as the others enjoyed the mudbath, rushing behind a bush and then charging out at each other. Emily's group remained with Natumi's group all afternoon, during which Natumi and Edi chased off some antelope.

05 December 2000

The morning was spent in play. Salama took on Emily and Imenti whilst Nyiro, Laikipia and Ilingwezi dashed here and there. The mudwallow was spectacular today, with Aitong frantically picking up Nyiro and Lolokwe every time they got stuck in the mud. After mudbath Emily's group left the others. At 3 p.m. Salama gave chase to a herd of antelope. Shortly before returning to the Stockade in the evening, Emily's group accompanied by 4 wild elephants rejoined the babies. The wild elephants remained with the orphans for some time before moving off as the orphans neared the Stockades.

06 December 2000

In the morning Emily, Aitong and Natumi had a wonderful chasing game. They all enjoyed the mudbath at 11.30 a.m. and afterwards Imenti despatched a buffalo which scared Natumi's group. They ran to the Keepers, screaming and Emily and Aitong rushed to calm them. At 2.30 p.m. Emily took her group off, reporting back in the evening at the Stockades.

07 December 2000

All the orphans left together in the morning and then met up with a wild herd shortly before 10 a.m. with whom they spent about half an hour. All had an "exciting" mudwallow, and most of the afternoon was spent playing, with Laikipia, Salama and Nyiro dominating the games.

08 December 2000

It was cold today, so the orphans did not wallow, having spent the day feeding. During the course of the morning an old bull buffalo charged Aitong, who ran away yelling.

09 December 2000

This morning, soon after leaving the Stockades, our orphans were joined by Chuma, Lissa's group (including her "kid") and another wild group. Chuma remained with Natumi and the babies when Lissa and the wild elephants left, heading towards the Airfield. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath together when Mweiga and Ilingwezi played.

10 December 2000

This morning a wild herd passed nearby. Emily and Aitong interacted with them, walking with them for quite a distance. During the morning Emily left and then returned to Natumi's group several times. As they approached the mudwallow, a wild cow with 3 young joined them. Two of the wild calves were the size of Emily and one a little smaller than Aitong, so Emily and Aitong spent time playing with them.

11 December 2000

In today's mudbath Mweiga played with Lolokwe and then Loisaba. They all rested under a tree in the early afternoon, after which Emily had a long game with Imenti, whilst Aitong put on a charging display on the sidelines.

12 December 2000

Soon after leaving the Stockades, Emily's group joined a wild group, leaving Natumi's group behind with the Keepers. Emily returned again at 10 a.m. and they all went to mudwallow together. There they were joined by a lone wild bull, who interacted with Natumi. All the orphans spent the afternoon together and returned to the Stockades together in the evening.

13 December 2000

At 6.30 a.m., soon after leaving the Stockades, a herd of waterbuck frightened Natumi's group. Emily and Aitong responded immediately, chasing the waterbuck away. In the mudbath, Nyiro, Ilingwezi and Lolokwe had a wonderful time playing whilst Aitong was kept very busy lifting them all up whenever they got stuck. In the afternoon Imenti and Emily threatened 3 old buffaloes, backed up by Natumi, Edie and Laikipia.

14 December 2000

Soon after leaving the Stockade, the weavers again scared the babies. The orphans had a marvellous mudbath today, Imenti squatting in the middle being climbed on by Salama and Nyiro. Emily's group remained with Natumi and the babies for the first half of the afternoon, during which time a wild group passed nearby and were joined by Salama and Laikipia who played with a youngster of their size. Emily's group then joined three wild adult elephants and spent time with them before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

15 December 2000

Salama and Laikipia were very active playing this morning and wallowed "furiously" in the mudbath at noon when they were joined by Emily's group. In the afternoon Emily left the babies again for a while. Natumi and Ilingwezi threatened to chase a couple of buffaloes, but thought better of it. Emily then returned to Natumi's group at 4 p.m. and on the way back to the Stockades, met up with a wild bull the size of Ndume, with whom Emily was friendly.

16 December 2000

During the course of the morning, two wild cows with two youngsters the size of Mweiga and Loisaba appeared and were joined by Laikipia and Salama. Meanwhile Emily and Imenti enjoyed their usual wrestling match. In the wallow Natumi and Edie played "tirelessly". Emily and her charges were absent at the mudbath having joined up with a wild herd, so Mweiga took her milk at 1.45 p.m. since she was not present at midday.

17 December 2000

The morning was spent all together, and the mudbath was enjoyed by all with Aitong watching over the babies to lift them whenever they had difficulty getting up. Natumi and Salama enjoyed a game that lasted 20 minutes. During the course of the day Aitong returned twice to try and persuade Nyiro to come with her. A group of 5 wild elephants were seen at a distance, but our orphans ignored them.

18 December 2000

All the orphans left the Stockade together, and soon afterwards met up with Chuma, who was greeted very warmly by Emily and Aitong as well as Laikipia and Salama. Emily's group then went with Chuma to join a wild group, but returned to join Natumi's group at the mudbath. In the afternoon Salama and Mweiga enjoyed a good game.

19 December 2000

The morning was uneventful, spent feeding below Daniel's house. Since it was cold, there was no mudbath today. Afterwards Lissa and a group of 8 wild elephants appeared, and charged the Keepers! At 2 p.m. Emily's group separated from that of Natumi, when Emily and Imenti enjoyed a game together.

20 December 2000

Two buffaloes frightened Natumi's group at the mudbath today, so Emily and Imenti saw them off, backed up by Mweiga, Aitong and Loisaba, all of whom trumpeted loudly. Natumi, Edie, Salama and Laikipia also gave chase behind the others. Behind the hill, in the afternoon, another two buffaloes started the orphans, sending the babies running to their Keepers for protection. At 5 p.m. Mweiga and Aitong enjoyed a game together.

21 December 2000

At 9.30 a.m. a lone bull joined the orphans and spent some time with them. There was no wallow today due to the cold. In the afternoon Natumi, Salama and Nyiro chased 7 zebra who ran towards Emily's group, and then got chased by Aitong and Imenti.

22 December 2000

Laikipia and Salama had a "dramatic" game that lasted 10 minutes. The orphans wallowed "spectacularly" at 11.30, chasing each other through the water. Aitong was very possessive of Nyiro throughout, but also spent time playing with Ilingwezi for about 30 minutes.

23 December 2000

All the orphans spent the morning together. At the wallow Edie toppled the drinking water drums, spilling all the water. Emily took her group off afterwards, and the babies also went quite a long way from their Keepers as they fed. Imenti likewise spent time on his own away from all the others.

24 December 2000

Natumi, Edie and Laikipia saw some waterbuck off during the course of the morning, after which Emily and her group went off on their own. They rejoined the others at the mudbath when Edie played with Mweiga and Natumi rolled on Loisaba. The afternoon was spent together.

25 December 2000

Again Natumi, Ilingwezi and Laikipia chased a buffalo off. Emily's group went off on their own, but rejoined the others at the mudbath. The orphans had a wonderful wallow today when Lolokwe played with Icholta and Nyiro climbed on Natumi. During the afternoon, the babies were repeatedly scared by the flight of the weaver birds. Again Emily took her group off to feed on their own, Mweiga staying very close to Emily all the time.

26 December 2000

The babies played "dramatically" all morning, Emily, Imenti, Nyiro and Natumi dominating the games whilst Salama and Laikipia chased off a herd of antelope. In the afternoon Emily's group separated from the others. Aitong chased off 2 buffaloes as they left.

27 December 2000

The morning was spent together, as was the mudbath, when Edie and Ilingwezi rolled about on each other. At 2.30 p.m. Emily's group left, taking Natumi, Ilingwezi, Salama and Laikipia with them for about half a Km. The youngsters then came running back to their Keepers, and were joined again by Emily at 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

28 December 2000

Emily's group separated from the others soon after leaving the Stockades but met up again with them at 11.30 a.m. for the mudwallow when Natumi, Icholta and Edie had a wonderful pushing game and Loisaba played with Mweiga. At 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon, Emily again took her group off. She and Imenti played as usual at 4 p.m. and Mweiga played with Loisaba at 5 p.m.

29 December 2000

The morning was spent all together. At the mudbath Nyiro enjoyed a game with Lolokwe whilst the others plastered themselves in thick mud, rolling around on the ground. Mweiga played with Icholta whilst Aitong kept very close to Nyiro, resting her trunk on him lovingly.

30 December 2000

Nyiro and Salama enjoyed a game as the orphans left the Stockades in the morning. Emily left Natumi's group during the course of the morning, but rejoined them for the mudbath. After the mudbath, Laikipia went with Emily's group for a short way before they all joined up again at 1.30 p.m. to rest under shade until 3 p.m. when they began to feed again.

31 December 2000

The orphans all left together as usual, and again Emily parted from the others soon afterwards, joining them again at the mudbath. At 2 p.m. Emily again left the others, returning separately to the Stockades in the evening.