Keepers' Diaries, December 2006

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Voi Reintegration Unit

It has been a wonderfully happy month for our Voi Unit, for the entire Tsavo Park has been blessed with plentiful rain, after a prolonged drought that lasted almost three full years. Once again, the Park turned into a Garden of Eden for elephants, and although most of the wild herds moved away from the dry weather haunts where, being water dependent, they had been anchored during the dry season, inland waterholes filled with rainwater released them, enabling them to move into the hinterland that had not suffered such heavy browsing pressure. However, Uaso remained, and throughout the month turned up almost daily to accompany the orphans to their feeding venue, romp with them in the waterholes and use his strength and prowess to remove a tree that was blocking some of them from gaining access to a particularly tempting anthill. Now a firm favourite, he is always greeted with enormous enthusiasm and automatically assumes the leadership role relegating the usual Matriarch, Natumi, to being just another member of the group! On one occasion Natumi attempted to reassert herself, but Uaso turned her challenge into a game by simply lying down and warding her off with his trunk, until she capitulated and forgetting about her initial motive, instead joined in Uaso’s game.

It has been a wonderfully happy month for our Voi Unit, for the entire Tsavo Park has been blessed with plentiful rain, after a prolonged drought that lasted almost three full years. Once again, the Park turned into a Garden of Eden for elephants, and although most of the wild herds moved away from the dry weather haunts where, being water dependent, they had been anchored during the dry season, inland waterholes filled with rainwater released them, enabling them to move into the hinterland that had not suffered such heavy browsing pressure. However, Uaso remained, and throughout the month turned up almost daily to accompany the orphans to their feeding venue, romp with them in the waterholes and use his strength and prowess to remove a tree that was blocking some of them from gaining access to a particularly tempting anthill. Now a firm favourite, he is always greeted with enormous enthusiasm and automatically assumes the leadership role relegating the usual Matriarch, Natumi, to being just another member of the group! On one occasion Natumi attempted to reassert herself, but Uaso turned her challenge into a game by simply lying down and warding her off with his trunk, until she capitulated and forgetting about her initial motive, instead joined in Uaso’s game.

The highlight of this month’s Diary was when Uaso escorted the group to the Northern end of Mazinga Hill where they met up with a large wild cow, her teenaged bull calf and another youngster. When it was time to leave, this cow did not want to release the orphans, blocking them from returning to their Keepers who were calling them. Only some of the orphans managed to escape back to their Keepers but en route back were intercepted by Emily, Aitong, Sally, Ilingwezi and Tsavo who diverted others who accompanied them! This group was escorted back to the Stockades only at midnight by Emily and Ilingwezi, who then left to join up again with Aitong, Sally and Tsavo, the other members of Emily’s now wild unit.

The only other wild contacts this month have been with two friendly wild bulls, to whom they were taken by Uaso. The orphans were apparently slightly daunted by these two obvious strangers, with whom Uaso was quite at home, until Lolokwe broke the ice by approaching them and was greeted by the friendly, gentle touch of trunks. Uaso then chose to leave with the two bulls, rather than escort the orphans back.

December 2006 day to day

01 Dec

December has come with a lot of blessings. Rain has brought great happiness to our orphans who can now afford the luxury of playing happily at the Stockade compound before leaving for the feeding grounds. Their usual morning visitor, Uaso, bounced down from neighbouring Mazinga Hill and was met with intense excitement, following which he took charge and escorted the entire herd into the main Park. He spent the entire day feeding with them before wandering off towards the Park airstrip in the late evening, as the others returned home for the night.

Orphans soil bathing

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