Keepers' Diaries, December 2010

Voi Reintegration Unit

The daily routine of the Keeper Dependent Voi orphans based at the Stockades during the hours of darkness, seldom varies, but for odd unusual incidents which always instill both fear and excitement. This month involves bumping into a puff adder, noisy mating tortoises, and wild rival kudus chasing one another half way up Mazinga Hill who prompted a mass retreat instigated by Wasessa and Shimba, who were already half way up. Such encounters are always followed by a display of “bush-bashing” in an attempt to allay the fact that elephants are, indeed, exceedingly fearful by nature!

01 December 2010

Having taken their morning milk, the Voi orphans headed towards the southern side of Mazinga Hill where serious browsing occupied their time. They returned for a mudbath and their noon milk at the Stockade, when the Keepers helped remove a large tick from between Ndii’s legs. Mzima and Siria enjoyed a wrestling match, after which the elephants returned to browse for the remainder of the day.

02 December 2010

Lesanju led her group out today, closely followed by Dida. Again the mudbath took place at the Stockades, after which the elephants went in search of browse again, interrupted when Tassia and Taveta settled an old score. Kenia intervened to restore order, keenly watched by Wasessa, who is very fond of Tassia. In the evening Ndii led the smaller elephants back home while Lesanju came later with the older group.

03 December 2010

Today the orphans browsed along the Northern side of the hill, again returning to the Stockades for the noon milk and mudbath. None of the elephants took a wallow today although Siria did his best to push Mzima in. Kenia led the way back in the evening.

04 December 2010

As the orphans headed out to browse, two mating tortoises were in their path making a sound that scared all the elephants. They ran back to their Keepers, who steered them along a different route. Shimba was first to venture into the waterhole at noon which encouraged all the others to follow, so a lot of fun was had by all. In the afternoon the orphans browsed the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill.

05 December 2010

Throughout the morning Lesanju and Sinya paid a lot of attention to Dida today, while Lempaute decided to focus on Taveta, all the big girls vying to win favour. At the noon waterhole session Tassia encouraged his rival, Taveta, to join him in the pool while Lesanju rubbed herself against the walls. Shimba remained in the water longest and came out in a playful mood, trumpeting and charging around bush-bashing, in the process scaring Taveta who was sitting on Mzima’s stomach!

06 December 2010

The orphans enjoyed a game of Hide and Seek around the stockade compound before going off to browse, Wasessa and Shimba taking the lead in making their way towards the waterhole for their noon milk and mudbath. Lesanju, Lempaute and Shimba had a wonderful wallowing session while Mzima and Siria occupied themselves against the edges until the others had come out. They then went in, trumpeting happily. After the afternoon feeding session all returned to the Stockades.

07 December 2010

After the usual compound games, and the morning browsing session, the orphans had a lot of fun at the waterhole at noon. Siria, Mzima, Wasessa, Tassia and Taveta rolled around in ecstasy while Shimba lay down and Mzima rubbed against him. Later all enjoyed soil dusting, before following Sinya who was already browsing.

08 December 2010

As the orphans were heading out, Taveta and Tassia sized one another up for a Pushing Match, but decided against it when they saw the others far ahead. The day was spent concentrating upon filling their stomachs, so they were not interested in wallowing. In the evening Dida led the group back to the Stockades.

09 December 2010

Shimba and Mzima engaged one another in a Head Butting Contest, closely watched by Taveta. Initially the orphans fed along the Western side of Mazinga hill before moving towards the eastern side.

10 December 2010

Wasessa engaged Sinya in a Pushing Game, while Lesanju challenged Lempaute and Siria took on his friend, Mzima. However, this didn’t last long because of the need to browse. At noon Wasessa rushed to the milk venue, forgetting about her favourite. Tassia. Siria placed his trunk on Tassia’ back as though to console him.. There was a lot of fun at the waterhole before Lensaju led her group back home.

11 December 2010

The orphans left the Stockades as usual, led by Lesanju, and at the noon mudbath all had a lot of fun. Siria attempting to mount onto Lempaute until Siria challenged Mzima to a Pushing Game. Mkuki, the orphaned kudu raised by the Keepers came to the Stockades alone, and spent some time feeding in the vicinity.

12 December 2010

The orphans left as usual to browse during the morning, and at the noon mudbath, Shimba tested the temperature of the water with his front feet and decided against going in because the temperature was not conducive.

13 December 2010

Out in the browsing fields, Tassia decided to play, but was watched closely by Wasessa who denied both Taveta and Kenia access. Instead Kenia joined Shimba and Dida in the mudwallow after which the orphans browsed along the eastern side of Mazinga Hill.

14 December 2010

Whilst Dida, Ndii and Taveta played a game of Hide and Seek, Mzima challenged Shimba to a Pushing Match and Siria and Wasessa scratched their bodies against rocks. At the mudbath Mzima was the star of the day, skidding, rolling and scratching his buttocks against the walls. Later they browsed for the remainder of the day.

15 December 2010

The orphans browsed along the northern slopes of Mazinga Hill today, and decided against a mudbath because it was a cool day. In the evening Siria and Lempaute played together, catching up with the others who were already on their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

16 December 2010

On the way to the browsing fields in the morning, a large puff adder who emerged from the bush onto the usual path leading to the Northern side of Mazinga Hill scared both the elephants and their Keepers. All took a bypass, but the elephants remained nervous throughout the rest of the day.

17 December 2010

As the orphans arrived at the waterhole at noon, they encountered a large wild bull who was in the process of leaving. The orphans rushed to take a drink and enjoy a cooling wallow before giving he bull much notice, but then Wasessa and Siria did a short recce into the bush looking for him, but having failed to locate him, returned to the others and continued browsing for the afternoon.

18 December 2010

Today the orphans were focused only on browsing until Shimba became the focus of attention, rolling in the mudbath. Lempaute pinned down Taveta who bellowed for the Keepers’ intervention, following which he abandoned the mudbath. Kenia then lay down to soil dust giving Kenia an opportunity to lie on her stomach.

19 December 2010

Dida and Taveta enjoyed chasing the baboons in the morning and found themselves left behind all the others who had headed out into the bush on the Southern side of Mazinga hill. Wasessa, Mzima and Shimba climbed half way up the hill but were scared by two lesser kudu, prompting a retreat to join the others. After the mudbath the orphans spent the rest of the day up the hill opposite the new Stable complex, and returned as usual in the evening.

20 December 2010

On the far northern side of Mazinga hill, the orphans encountered a group of wild elephants at close quarters. The Keepers fled, fearing for their own safety, followed by the orphans, scaring the wild elephants, who likewise fled in the opposite direction!

21 December 2010

Sinya, who is usually reluctant to go into the water, was first in and splashed water over her body, closely watched by all the others. They then joined her, and all thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath. Tassia plunged in and out of the water, soon joined by Tassia, which started a pushing match. Siria and Wasessa were busy rolling, sliding and covering themselves in mud until Lesanju decided that it was time to return to browsing for the rest of the day.

22 December 2010

As soon as the orphans reached the browsing area Shimba and Mzima enjoyed a pushing game while Tassia suckled Wasessa’s ears. Ndii led the group back home in the evening.

23 December 2010

Emily and Edie and their entourage plus their new wild recruit came to the Stockades in the evening, eager to inspect the upgrading of their old base and take a drink from the new enlarged Stockade Water Trough. The Youngsters were already in their Night Stockades so did not get a chance to interact with the Ex Orphans. The babies of both Emily and Edie, namely little Eve and Ella were both looking healthy.

24 December 2010

The two orphaned ostriches that are being reared by the Elephant Keepers at the Voi Stockades are growing fast, impressing the Keepers by running and sitting down facing every direction in the mornings as though in prayer before beginning to feed on the herbs growing around the Stockades!

25 December 2010

The orphans enjoyed the grass that has grown near the Stockades before moving to browse at Mazinga Hill. They returned to the Stockades for their noon milk and mudbath, Taveta, Tassia and Kenia enjoying rolling in the wet ground whilst Ndii and Dida scratched against the rocks. Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya enjoyed playing in a pile of red soil that had been brought in by the Tractor as a Christmas treat.

26 December 2010

The orphans enjoyed shifting between waterholes, settling on the Big waterhole where an old tractor tyre bobbed about. Siria and Mzima were eager to go in and play with it. Afterwards all enjoyed a lengthy dustbath, tossing red puffs of dust high into air using their trunks.

27 December 2010

Today the Keepers ushered the orphans into the Compound fence, where the browse was more abundant. Many impalas and kudus were also taking advantage of the browse there. Shimba lost himself in a patch of bush, and had to be rounded up by the Keepers to return to the Stockades for the noon milk feed and mudbath. Dida and Ndii led the orphans home in the evening.

28 December 2010

On the way back to the Stockades in the evening, Mzima wanted to play in a deep erosion trench, but failed to entice the others into the game, all of whom were fully focused on their waiting bottle of milk and the copra cake handout!

29 December 2010

Soon after the orphans had left the Stockades, Emily and Edie and their unit arrived at the Stockades, the wild boy still in tow, who was giving the two babies, Ella and Eve a lot of attention. Laikipia stepped into the new water Trough to gauge its depth. Later they left, but not in the direction taken by Lesanju’s group earlier.

30 December 2010

Before leaving the Stockades, the orphans enjoyed the usual games, Lesanju and Lempaute showing Taveta their skills in this respect, whilst Kenia taught Ndii and Dida. After the mudbath Mzima and Shimba invited Taveta to a pushing match, but Taveta was having none of it due to the tusks of the other two. In the evening Dida led the way back.

31 December 2010

Today the orphans browsed slowly from the eastern side of Mazinga hill to the big waterhole where they had a lot of fun. This attracted some baboons who came within chasing range, so the orphans chased them way down to the airstrip. The elephants later returned to their Keepers, still highly excited in charging mode.