Keepers' Diaries, December 2001

Voi Reintegration Unit

Overview - Nursery:- Most of the festive month has been a peaceful and stress-free time for those of us in charge of the infant Nursery Elephants, marked by happiness and good health and gratifying to hear a positive report at the dawn of each new morning. The cheeks of little "Seraa" and "Solango" were beginning to fill out nicely obscuring the prominent cheekbone beneath the eye which should never be visible in a healthy calf. We thought they had both overcome all their initial problems, both mental and physical, but then on 30th December, at 4 p.m., Seraa began to lag behind the others, showing signs of weakness and once again fluid was dripping from her trunk. Yet, just that morning she had been chasing the pigs and romping in the mudbath with all the others, but experience has taught us that a baby elephant can be fine in the morning, and dead within hours. By the next morning, she was desperately ill, her lungs full of fluid, barely able to breathe and despite the antibiotic injections, we feared the worst. Essential Oil of Pine and Tea Tree mixed with Olive Carrier was massaged around her lungs throughout the day, and some Vicks rubbed on her breast in a desperate extra attempt to save the life of this little elephant and release the fluid in her lungs which was threatening to drown her.

01 December 2001

The "Baby Group" left the Stockades in the morning along with all the others, but later Ndara opted to join Emily's group. Natumi's group were with Emily's for the day. In the morning at l0.30 a.m. they met up with three buffaloes, which Aitong and Edie sent on their way. All the orphans congregated at the mudbath, which they greatly enjoyed and because it was hot, they returned for a second wallow in the afternoon. Earlier Emily took Ndara with her group and that of Natumi to feed further afield, and after the second mudbath Ndara followed Emily, with Aitong and Tsavo keeping a close eye on her. In the evening the Keepers had to call Ndara back so that she could return earlier to the Stockades with the younger set and get her ration of milk.

02 December 2001

Emily and Aitong were waiting outside the Baby Night Enclosure to escort the young orphans. They left together with them resting their trunks lovingly across both Maungu and Ndara. Nyiro and Mukwaju had their usual shoving match. Ndara chose to go with Emily's group, so Yatta's group was without her during the afternoon when Nyiro concentrated on trying to dominate Mvita. Natumi's group spent most of the day with Emily's. Salama climbed on top of Lolokwe and had to be dislodged by Laikipia. During mudbath Salama sat on Edie who got stuck and had to be helped up by Aitong. Emily and her group watched the youngsters take their milk after mudbath, and then left with them. Later Salama and Laikipia had a tussle, which was won by Laikipia.

03 December 2001

Again Ndara left he Baby group in order to be with Emily. Nyiro and Mukwaju were busy with each other all morning, and Kinna shoved Mvita, who ran off crying. All enjoyed a wonderful mudbath, swimming in the deep rainfilled pool with just their trunks out. Emily's group spent the day with Natumi's group. Edie and Lolokwe had a disagreement over the milk bottles and Salama and Laikipia had their usual bout, which today was won by Salama.

04 December 2001

Today, Edo joined the baby set at the mudbath, welcomed warmly by Mukwaju and Nyiro, as he rested his trunk lovingly across their backs. Later Edo joined Emily's group, and was welcomed warmly by Aitong and Loisaba. He spent most of the day with Emily's group and turned up at the Stockades at 5.30 p.m. where he spent a short time before leaving.

05 December 2001

Edo was at the Stockade by 5.30 a.m. in time to leave with Emily's and Natumi's groups, and was with them until 1.30 p.m. when he left. During mudbath Maungu pushed Ndara aside to drink water from the bins. In the afternoon Ndara joined the older set and fed far from the Keepers in the care of Emily and Aitong.

06 December 2001

Emily took Ndara with her group, leaving the Baby Group with their Keepers. They had a marvellous mudbath, and then played charging the bushes. Natumi and Tsavo enjoyed a protracted sandbath. In the afternoon Aitong, Edie, Natumi and Loisaba joined forces to chase a warthog.

07 December 2001

Edo was at the Stockades again this morning to join Emily and Aitong who took both Ndara and Maungu with them. He playhed briefly with Emily before leaving. During the mudbath Mvita pushed Ndara, and noticing this, Emily came and took Ndara away to wallow next to her. Natumi's group were very active, chasing each other around the bushes and running to and fro. Returning to the Night Stockades, Mweiga lagged far behind, so Aitong returned to accompany her.

08 December 2001

This morning Kinna and Yatta chased a mongoose and then enjoyed a bout of bush bashing. Nyiro, as usual, was occupied trying to mount everyone. Maungu begged for more milk today, extending her trunk to each Keeper in turn, and when she found there was none, she "despaired". Emily passed a place where the lions had been resting during the night, and when she smelt them, she trumpeted to call the Keepers, who saw the footprints. After mudbath, Emily took Ndara to feed with her group, leaving Natumi's group on their own.

09 December 2001

Kinna began the day by stroking Maungu as would a mother. The babies browsed with Emily's group until 10.30 a.m. during which Edie and Nyiro took the stage, testing each other's strength. In the afternoon Emily's and Natumi's group were together, including Ndara. Salama and Laikipia had their usual fun and Aitong kept close to Mweiga as she fed.

10 December 2001

Nyiro kept "nugging" Jill to suck her fingers during mudbath today, whilst Laikipia was occupied chasing and mounting on Yatta. Emily took Natumi's group with her during the afternoon, heading North, but returned at 4 p.m. to join the Baby Group.

11 December 2001

All the orphans left together as one group this morning. Nyiro enjoyed playing with Tsavo before the mudbath. Afterwards, during the milk session Lolokwe, Nyiro and Mweiga tried to grab the others' share, but met with strong resistance! After feeding Icholta pushed Mvita, following which Laikipia and Salama joined forces to chase Icholta away, before taking on each other. In the afternoon, the older orphans chased off some buffaloes, Edie, Aitong, Loisaba and Natumi backing up Emily, who led the charge. Back at the Stockades the orphans were introduced to the new Electrically Fenced Night Stockade, but Aitong and Edie refused to go inside.

12 December 2001

Ndume turned up at the Stockades early in the morning, greeted warmly by all the others who sniffed his body as he stood by calmly. He accompanied them out into the bush, but then left. At 9 a.m. there was a heavy rainstorm, and the orphans had a marvellous time rolling in the mud and playing in the water pools. The entire day was a mudbath. In the afternoon each group fed separately, but Ndara was with Emily's.

13 December 2001

Nyiro and Mukwaju had their usual tussle, which ended in a truce without a victor. Again it rained heavily, and all the orphans enjoyed playing and digging in the mud with their tusks in between bouts of feeding.

14 December 2001

All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath together today, burying their heads in the water. Maungu and Ndara pushed each other briefly until Kinna intervened to separate them. Meanwhile Edie and Tsavo had a contest which was won by Edie. Back at the Stockades in the evening, Loisaba charged a Monitor Lizard.

15 December 2001

All the orphans left together but later Natumi's group and that of Emily separated from the babies. Nyiro and Kinna played together and then Nyiro climbed on Maungu. Whilst the babies took their noon milk, Emily stood beside Maungu and Ndara and took them with her to feed in the afternoon. Meanwhile a herd of zebra scared the babies who ran to the Keepers for protection. At 12.45 p.m. the older orphans met up with a wild herd of elephants with whom they intermingled. Laikipia enjoyed playing with a wild calf of his size before the orphans parted.

16 December 2001

The Babies met up with a wild group of elephants, whom Mvita joined briefly, but was called back by the Keepers. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath together after which Kinna, Maungu and Lolokwe begged for more milk. At 3.30 p.m. Edo turned up and joined the older orphans out in the bush, staying close to Mweiga. Back at the Stockade, Aitong again charged the Monitor Lizard, this time backed up by Lolokwe and Edie!

17 December 2001

After the noon milk feed today, Yatta pulled a muscle and fell down crying. Immediately Aitong and the Keepers came to help her up. Laikipia and Salama spent most of the day trying to mount on each other. Emily took Ndara with her group but joined the babies at the mudbath. The afternoon was spent all together.

18 December 2001

It was cool today, so there was no enthusiasm for the mudbath and the day was spent feeding quietly all together.

19 December 2001

There was competition this morning, with Emily, Natumi, and Edie all surrounding Ndara and Maungu, eager to take them with them. It was cool again, so the day was spent feeding, Loisaba and Ndara keeping close to Emily and Tsavo oscillating between Emily and Aitong.

20 December 2001

Today Ndara and Maungu left the baby group to feed on their own a little apart. Nyiro pushed Mvita at the mudbath, but she didn't retaliate. During the morning Natumi, Edie and Lolokwe were very active kicking the bushes and charging around playfully, whilst Emily found a tyre with which she played, throwing it up into the air with her trunk, and then kicking it around with her feet.

21 December 2001

The orphans enjoyed rolling on the road on their way out this morning when Nyiro played with Tsavo before jumping on Yatta. They enjoyed an exciting mudbath today, Salama, Ilingwezi and Icholta sitting on the others as they lay in the mud. Lolokwe got pushed by Natumi when he tried to get her ration of milk. In the afternoon Ndara spent time with Emily's group who were joined at 3.20 p.m. by Edo. As usual he was greeted very warmly by all the others. Later Mweiga was scared by an antelope, so Aitong rushed to her rescue. In the evening Ndume turned up at the Stockade.

22 December 2001

Mukwaju and Nyiro had a fantastic game this morning which lasted for almost an hour, trumpeting and running to and fro. The older orphans met up with a group of wild elephants just before 5 p.m. Emily, Ndara and Loisaba remained behind with the wild group, whilst Aitong escorted the others back to the Night Stockades, but was very restless, refusing to go inside, wanting to return to collect Emily and the others. Eventually they turned up at 11.30 p.m.

23 December 2001

This morning Mukwaju pushed Maungu, who nearly fell down, which made Mukwaju feel bad causing him to run away. All the orphans enjoyed their mudbath together with Salama and Laikipia having their usual tussle. Afterwards Tsavo and Mweiga fought over a grass stalk Mweiga was busy uprooting. Aitong intervened to calm them both, stroking them with her trunk. Back at the Stockades, Aitong, Edie and Loisaba again charged the resident Monitor Lizard who emerged to take a drink.

24 December 2001

Maungu interacted lovingly with Ilingwezi today, taking food from her mouth, as though Ilingwezi was her mother. Icholta and Mukwaju despatched a herd of gazelle. Salama tried to mount Natumi, which irritated her, and she sorted him out until he surrendered and ran away. In the afternoon Emily kept Ndara and Tsavo close beside her, whilst Edie chased some birds.

25 December 2001

The orphans enjoyed an exciting mudbath today. Tsavo pushed Mweiga causing her to fall down, when both Emily and Aitong rushed to help her get up. Nyiro was up to his usual trick, trying to topple the water drums, and succeeded in downing two. During the milk feed Kinna protected Maungu from Mukwaju, who was trying to take her milk.

26 December 2001

The babies arrived at the mudbath ahead of the others to find a warthog drinking, so Nyiro and Kinna chased it off. Then Yatta played with Nyiro. Later Kinna was pushed by Icholta when they saw the milk tractor approaching. Back at the Stockade Natumi, Laikipia and Salama were frightened by the Monitor Lizard, and Emily came to chase it away.

27 December 2001

All the orphans spent the morning together. Tsavo played with Nyiro and Kinna tried to take Maungu from Emily's side. The afternoon likewise was spent all together.

28 December 2001

Today, Aitong decided to accompany the Baby Group, meeting up with Emily's group at the mudbath. Yatta tried to entice Ndara to accompany her group, putting her trunk in Ndara's mouth. During the mudbath Salama knocked Mukwaju down onto his side and then sat on him, so Aitong came to lift him off, and then lifted Mukwaju to his feet. In the afternoon Loisaba was startled by a waterbuck, so she ran back to Emily's side, before giving chase.

29 December 2001

Mvita shoved Nyiro today, sparking a tussle, which Nyiro won. At the mudbath, the babies met up with a wild bull Elephant, who was surprised when Kinna tried to touch him. However, when he tried to touch Kinna's ear, she became scared and ran away until she was surrounded by all the others. During the afternoon, all the orphans became scared, but when the Keepers went to investigate the cause of the trouble, they found just a lone buffalo. Then Tsavo and Salama had a friendly bout, which Salama won.

30 December 2001

Nyiro was up to his usual stunt, mounting first on Kinna and then Maungu. During the mudbath, Kinna, Nyiro and Maungu had a wonderful time, but Mukwaju refused to go in and Natumi was also reluctant. Emily played with a tyre, lifting it on to her head. In the afternoon the orphans were scared by a running lesser kudu, which Emily ran after. Salama and Laikipia had their usual game.

31 December 2001

The baby group were with their Keepers this morning until Emily's and Natumi's group came to collect them. Thereafter they had a wonderful morning rolling on the sand banks and in the mud - had a wonderful mudbath, and were escorted to their milk at noon by Emily, Aitong and Loisaba. Afterwards they enjoyed breaking the bushes. At the Stockade Aitong and Loisaba once again charged the Monitor Lizard who was near their watering place. At the Stockade, the baby group were introduced to the new Stockades, but were mot impressed!