Keepers' Diaries, December 2013

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Voi Reintegration Unit

A great tragedy for the Voi Unit was the loss of little Mbololo on the 5th, whose health continued to deteriorate after her collapse last month at the mudbath, despite best efforts to save her. But a happy event for the Voi Keepers was the reappearance of their Ex Orphan kudu named “Aruba” who brought her second wild--born baby girl back to show them a few days later on the 10th.

A great tragedy for the Voi Unit was the loss of little Mbololo on the 5th, whose health continued to deteriorate after her collapse last month at the mudbath, despite best efforts to save her. But a happy event for the Voi Keepers was the reappearance of their Ex Orphan kudu named “Aruba” who brought her second wild--born baby girl back to show them a few days later on the 10th.

Mbololo had become Big Girl Wasessa’s favourite calf, and Wasessa was clearly deeply concerned during the time her health was failing, running to try and encourage and comfort the ailing calf whenever at or near the compound, and even haunted when browsing out in the bush when she was often tempted to turn back. However, Wasessa accepted Mbololo’s absence stoically, for she never attempted a search, and instantly turned her attention back to Mudanda who used to be her favourite prior to the arrival of Mbololo. For a while she was undecided being interested also in Ishaq-B. Meanwhile, Mbirikani had formed a strong bond with Mudanda, and the possibility of losing her to Wasessa did not go down well. Neither was Sinya best pleased since she had her eye on Ishaq-B as her chosen one. The result was friction between Wasessa, Mbirikani and Sinya, as well as between Mudanda and Ishaq-B, when Wasessa finally decided on Mudanda as her chosen one! Such are the intricate dynamics of favouritism amongst the older females and their charges! However, whilst Wasessa is certainly the biggest bodied female of the Voi Unit, Lesanju is the undisputed Matriarch and as such dominant, so things became even more complicated when Lesanju also began taking a special interest in Mudanda towards the end of the month! Being selected as a favourite calf by the Big Females of the herd is obviously a coveted privilege that can lead to jealousy at the next level as well!

Kihari, Ishaq-B, and Naipoki, as the most recent arrivals from the Nursery Unit, tend to stick together in a tight coalition which has been joined by Mbirikani since she has fallen foul of Wasessa over Mudanda. Mbirikani’s severely injured foot from the cable snare that almost severed it has miraculously healed sufficiently for her to be able to keep pace with the other three girls, who enjoy racing ahead to be first at the noon milk venue. Panda is another who is anxious to be first at the milk venue, but for a different reason, sneaking away surreptitiously to be first, and then turning up again amongst the others hoping to fool the Keepers into giving her a second ration!
Whereas Mbirikani and Panda used to browse close to the Stockades along with the orphaned zebra stallion named “Lualeni”, now that they are part of Lesanju’s main unit, the new development has been Lualeni wanting to be part of the main herd following them on their way out to browse each morning. To begin with this was not popular with Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki, who, reinforced by Taveta, did their best to expel him, but Lualeni easily outwitted them, leaping over bushes and galloping round to avoid them. This soon turned into a pleasurable diversion for the elephants, who began to accept, and even welcome, his presence, so that by month end he had been accepted as part of their herd, a spectator as they wallowed at noon, and sometimes following the milk van back to the Stockades after it had delivered the noon milk feed. Another daily diversion is always the presence of the resident baboon troupe, who are bent on trying to snatch some of the morning supplements. They are a constant irritation both to the elephants and the Keepers, both of whom do their best to expel them!
But, the main diversion this month has been the presence of Emily’s unit of Ex Orphans, with whom the Juniors have had a lot of contact. Big Boy Laikipia was seen to have what appeared to be an arrow wound, which involved immobilization out in the bush on the 3rd . There was, however, no sign of an imbedded arrow in the wound, which was cleaned and anointed with healing green clay before Laikipia was given a long acting antibiotic and revived. Since then his wound has healed and he has been a major player this month along with Emily’s main group which has visited the Stockades frequently with a wild teenaged boy in tow.
On the 6th they accompanied Lesanju’s group out and Ex Orphan Thoma was tempted to remain with the Juniors while Mzima was tempted to upgrade himself to the Senior Herd, something that upset Lesanju who is very alert to the Snatching tendencies of the Ex Orphan unit. She has good reason to be concerned, since the very next day Emily’s Ex Orphans led her entire herd off in a different direction, and while Lesanju eventually managed to round up most of her “family” she lost the Nairobi recent arrivals to Emily, namely Kihari, Ishaq-B and Kihari. Unable to keep pace with the elephants, the Keepers called on the Trust’s Pilot and SuperCub at our Kaluku Field HQ to come and help locate them, and having done so, the Keepers were able to drive to where they were (about 7 miles from the Stockades) and coerce the truants back by waving bottles of milk! They then walked them back to the Stockades arriving at about 7 p.m. after dark!
The next day a Splinter Group from Emily’s Unit, comprised of Sweet Sally, Icholta, Mweya and Thoma, (and escorted by Laikipia) turned up to try and entice some of Lesanju’s unit away, but Lesanju left the morning hand-out early and managed to spirit them away in time. A few days later (10th) Icholta and Mweya came with Laikipia bent on the same mission, but Lesanju had already left with her family. Then on the 11th and 12th yet another diversion interrupted the Hijacking mission, because Sweet Sally was obviously in season, and was being pursued relentlessly by Big Boy Laikipia who had managed to expel the wild teenager from Emily’s Unit. As Nannies to the wild-born babies of Emily and Edit (Eve and Ella) Thoma and Seraa had their hands full comforting the two babies who were not happy at seeing Sally being hounded by Laikipia!
The next time the Ex Orphans appeared was on the 15th when Sally was not amongst the herd, obviously otherwise occupied with wild Bulls. And when the Ex Orphans turned up again on the l7th Sinya was prevented playing with little Eve by Thoma would have none of it, restraining Eve. But on the 20th Thoma and Seraa again attempted to snatch Panda and Mudanda and were once again thwarted by the quick action of Lesanju, who managed to round up her herd and move them off, Thoma and Seraa trailing them for a while before turning back. Another attempt was made on the 22nd when Seraa led the Splinter Group that turned up and trailed Lesanju’s unit until they climbed Mazinga Hill. Later Emily’s unit was spotted at the base of the hill, but decided to head for the Voi River instead of climbing the hill.
When the Ex Orphans turned up again on Boxing Day, they had with them Big Boy Irima who had been absent for many months. On this occasion Sinya was again anxious to play with Eve, but Thoma would have none of it. The next day Laikipia came alone to the Stockades obviously having been seen off by Big Wild Boys anxious to access Sweet Sally. All the Youngsters greeted his solo arrival happily, since this presented an opportunity to inspect him, all crowding around eager to touch him with trunks before he took his leave. At month end, as Emily’s Ex Orphan herd again approached the Stockades, two Big Wild Bulls managed to isolate Sweet Sally from the herd, and were spotted chasing after her deep into the Park. And so ended the year 2013, and we begin 2014 with the prospect of 2 new wild-born additions to our Ex Orphaned herd at the New Year of 2016, since this month both Wendi of the Ithumba Unit and Sweet Sally of the Voi Unit have been mated.

December 2013 day to day

01 Dec

Kenia’s group of younger orphans usually come out of their Night Stockades first to take their morning milk feed without competition from the older Elephants who can become pushy over the morning supplements of Lucerne and Dairy cubes. The orphans then enjoyed baboon chasing, which is always a favourite pastime before heading out to browse. The resident troupe of baboons hang around hoping for any leftover supplements and are a source of irritation for both the elephants and their Keepers!

Dabassa scatching in the stockade

Lempaute browsing

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