Keepers' Diaries, December 2004

Voi Reintegration Unit

For the Voi Unit it has been a joyful month, with intermittent rain, sometimes heavy, so they have loved playing in the puddles and feasting on fresh green vegetation. Emily’s unit, which consists of her, Aitong and Sweet Sally, all of whom are no longer enclosed at night, have failed to join the other orphans only once, on the 31st December. Normally, they are either waiting at the Stockade Gates in the morning, or join up with the others out in the bush or at the mudbath.

01 December 2004

The day was dominated by frequent showers, so the orphans had a joyous time sliding on mud walls. Morani, Solango, Mweya, Thoma, Seraa, Mpala and Irima had a fantastic game of running in the puddles, splashing up the rainwater, and charging the spray, trumpeting with happiness because of the rain and green pasture.

02 December 2004

The orphans met up with Emily’s group (i.e. Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally, who are out of the Stockades at night). A young wild bull, the size of Dika fed nearby; the only wild elephant encountered all day

03 December 2004

The sky was dark with rain clouds. Lolokwe and Icholta enjoyed a wonderful game in the puddles, lying down in the water. Burra and Mpala tussled at the mudbath whilst Loisaba, Sosian, Icholta and Lolokwe just enjoyed themselves in the mud.

04 December 2004

The day began with rain, so the elephants enjoyed rolling on anthills and bathing in the puddles along the way. They were all coloured red, in amongst a pasture of bright green. They were not interested in the mudbath at noon since they had already had their fill. Instead, they all fed ravenously on the fresh green pasture.

05 December 2004

The orphans enjoyed a mudbath made by the wild elephants today. At 3.15 3 zebras ran past Natumi’g group, scaring them. Mweya led Solango, Morani, Seraa, Irima and Thoma running to the Keepers with outspread ears, but they later returned to Emily, who was unpeturbed. Emily saw the zebras off.

06 December 2004

There was a heavy downpour during the night. In the morning the elephants again enjoyed playing in the puddles and rubbing against the anthills. Solango, Burra and Nyiro played together.

07 December 2004

Natumi and the dependent orphans spent almost the entire day without meeting up with Emily’s group, but they made contact an hour before returning in the evening. On the way to the Stockade Natumi and Edie chased a herd of impalas. Natumi slid and fell, piercing her trunk with a tusk.

08 December 2004

Natumi and her group joined up with Emily, Aitong and Sally at the Spring Gate in the morning and spent the rest of the day together. The mudbath was spectacular, and Laikipia, Salama, Burra, Ilingwezi and Edie lagged behind enjoying it when the others had left.

09 December 2004

Emily and her group met the other orphans at the Stockade in the morning. Later Icholta and Natumi found themselves left behind rolling in the mud, and ran to catch up, scaring the younger members of the group.

10 December 2004

The orphans had a wonderful mudbath today. Mweya mounted Edie who was lying down, making Edie cry for help, which brought Natumi and Edie to her rescue. The orphans were scared by 2 buffaloes, forcing them to run to the Keepers, but when the buffaloes saw the Keepers, they ran off.

11 December 2004

Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the orphans on the N. side of Mazinga Hill at around 9 a.m. Loisaba, Ndara and Tsavo raised their trunks as they ran to meet Emily, surrounding her and inspecting her from all angles. She revolved round, touching all three of her favourite babies in turn. “It was an admirable scene”.

12 December 2004

Emily’s group came to join the orphans in the morning, taking them up Mazinga hill. Even the young ones were having such a good time that they did not return for the noon milk feed. They returned in the evening, and drank from the Stockade waterhole before retiring for the night.

13 December 2004

Natumi and her group left the Stockade in the morning in the company of Emily and her satellites. They all had a wonderful time, wallowing, splashing water with their trunks and feet, and playing happily. At l0.45 a.m. a buffalo exploded

14 December 2004

Emily met the orphans at the Stockade and took them round the back of the hill. Laikipia and Salama indulged in a shoving match just before the mudbath. All enjoyed the mud, rubbing themselves against the banks.

15 December 2004

Emily met the orphans at the Stockade in the morning. At 9.30 a.m. Mweya, Solango, Mpala, Nyiro and Lolokwe enjoyed chasing a herd of impalas around, Mweya dramatically kicking bushes along with Solango and Mpala, whilst Nyiro and Lolokwe commenced a pushing game that lasted 15 minutes. At 3 p.m. Laikipia and Salama had a pushing bout.

16 December 2004

At 9.15 a.m. 2 waterbucks chasing each other frightened Natumi, Edie, Ilingwezi, Nyiro, Salama and Laikipia, who turned round and charged the bucks, knocking and kicking bushes and trumpeting. They all had a wonderful mudbath, submerging themselves fully in the water and floating around. They had such a good time that they were reluctant to leave.

17 December 2004

As usual, Emily’s group joined the others at the Stockade, and received a very warm rumbled welcome. They put on a beautiful mudbath show, with Emily and Aitong lying in the water, so that the others could scratch themselves against them. Sosian hit the water repeatedly with his trunk, making a big splash.

18 December 2004

It was an exciting day, because in the early morning Edo appeared from the Eastern side of the hill, as the others were still in the Stockade. Ndara and Loisaba were the first to greet him when they emerged, Edo resting his trunk on Loisaba’s back. All the others crowded around him, sniffing him. Edo then lay down, and Burra and Solango enjoyed climbing on him. Burra then tried to mount Lolokwe, having sized each other up for strength. At the Spring Gate, Emily joined them all from the Western direction, enjoying a joyous reunion, as Natumi’s group surrounded them. Emily enjoyed playing with Edo, whilst Aitong had a turn to do so at the mudbath. They all spent the entire day together.

19 December 2004

Edo turned up with Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally today, for the second time, and all had a wonderful time at the wallow. Some wild elephant herds were spotted in the distance, but too far away for the orphans to make contact. On the way back to the Stockades, Ilingwezi, Laikipia, Salama and Natumi had a game, charging and chasing a group of impalas.

20 December 2004

Today, Edo, Emily, Aitong and Sally joined the other orphans at the mudbath. Natumi;s group was overjoyed to be joined again by Edo, who allowed Laikipia to lie on his back in the water. Edo was very comfortable in the wallow, allowing all the young bulls to play on top of him as he lay in the water.

21 December 2004

Again Edo accompanied Emily’s and Natumi’s group from the Stockade. At l0 a.m. Emily happened upon a buffalo lying in a bush. She charged aggressively, kicking the bushes, which brought the rest of the group along, and together they chased off the buffalo. At the mudbath, Aitong enjoyed playing with Edo.

22 December 2004

Edo was again at the Stockade with Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally, to accompany the other orphans into the bush, this side leading them to the Eastern side of the hill. They had a wonderful wallow together when Seraa, Burra, Irima and Mweya enjoyed rushing through the shallows, “exchanging pleasantries”. They all spent the day together, Edo returning with them to the Stockade in the evening.

23 December 2004

Edo and Emily’s group did not appear today, Natumi’s group had a wonderful wallow when Salama and Laikipia enjoyed a pushing game. During the milk feed Irima pushed down Mpala in a struggle for the bottle, and after, Burra and Seraa enjoyed chasing a dikdik who was hiding in the bush upon which they were feeding. Emily’s group, plus Edo, met up with the other orphans on their way back to the Stockade in the evening.

24 December 2004

Natumi’s group met up with Emily’s and Edo at the mudbath. They rumbled a greeting to each other, whilst Loisaba, Ndara and Tsavo rushed up to Emily joyfully, standing close to her, touching her. Later Emily’s group and Edo left the others heading in a different direction to feed but joined them again at 3.30 p.m.

25 December 2004

Natumi’s group left without Emily’s in the morning. En route Edie chased a herd of Impalas. Emily’s group joined the others at 8.30 a.m., still with Edo in tow plus 3 wild bulls younger than him, who were all trying to check Emily, but she took refuge close to Edo. The wild bulls grazed peacefully amongst the younger orphans, without intimidating the young bull orphans. After just over an hour, the wild bulls left, leaving Emily’s group and Edo with the other orphans. At 4 p.m. Edo left the orphans, joined later by Emily, Aitong and Sally, who did not return to the Stockade today

26 December 2004

Emily, Aitong and Sally arrived at the Stockades at dawn and left with the other orphans. At the mudbath, they found Edo, who was greeted warmly by Emily. She and him entwined trunks in the mudbath, whilst the younger orphans rubbed against them

27 December 2004

Natumi’s group spent the morning without Emily, meeting up with a troupe of baboons, which scared Solango, Burra and Irima, who came running to the Keepers. Natumi, Edie, Laikipia and Ilingwezi saw the baboons off, kicking bushes in the process. Emily’s group joined the other orphans at the mudbath, and all enjoyed a spectacular time. Later Edo joined them in the afternoon and he and Emily’s group accompanied the others back to the Stockade, lingering there long after dark before heading westwards.

28 December 2004

Emily’s group, coming from the direction of the Airstrip, joined the other orphans at 9.30 a.m. Natumi’s group surrounded Emily’s, exchanging pleasantries. Aitong extended her trunk to caress Morani between his hindlegs. They spent the day together, and were joined by Edo at the stockade in the evening.

29 December 2004

Natumi’s group spent the morning feeding along the eastern side of Mazinga Hill, enjoying scratching themselves against the rocks, whilst Mpala and Burra climbed onto the rocks. Upon arrival at the mudbath, they saw Emily, Aitong and Sally coming from the opposite direction. Emily rumbled a greeting, whilst Aitong was caressing Morani. They enjoyed the mudbath happily together. At 3.15 p.m. Edo met up with them, coming from the other direction, and they all returned to the Stockade together, after which Emily’s group left with Edo, heading west

30 December 2004

Natumi’s group spent the morning without Emily, but met up with Emily’s group at the mudbath. Loisaba, Ndara and Tsavo rumbled happily to be with Emily, surrounding her and touching her with their trunks. At 2.30 p.m. Edo joined them and they all spent the afternoon together before returning to the Stockade. Wild elephants are conspicuous by their absence these days in the area frequented by the orphans

31 December 2004

Natumi’s group spent the morning without Emily’s group or Edo, feeding on the Eastern side of the hill. At the mudbath Emily’s group joined them, receiving a very fond greeting from Loisaba, Ndara and Tsavo, who surrounded Emily, touching her gently all over her body. At 2.30 p.m. Edo turned up and accompanied them all back to the Stockade. Wild elephants are absent these days where our orphans feed, so there has been little wild contact this month, apart from Edo.