Keepers' Diaries, December 2014

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Voi Reintegration Unit

December was blessed with rains and the landscape has been transformed into a green paradise littered with flowers.

December was blessed with rains and the landscape has been transformed into a green paradise littered with flowers.

With the green season comes celebration and our little dependent orphans group which consists of Lesanju as the matriarch, able assisted by Lempaute, with
Sinya at hand to help. Wasessa the adopted mother of Mudanda and Bada, Isaq-B and Naipoki, Kenia, Kivuko and Ndii the other females in the group together with Mbirikani who came tous with a horrendous injury from a cable snare almost severing her foot. Thankfully she has made a full recovery in the fullness of time. This group is then complemented by a number of naughty boys being Rombo, Dabassa, Mzima, Layoni, Taveta and Tassia all of whom have had a joyful month. While this season was a celebration for our orphans, not so for another poor unfortunate baby who lost her mother to the ivory trade. Ndoria came to us having been alone for a whole month before being rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Voi team on the 3rd of December. Her mother was poached for her ivory and this little calf was first sighted on the 4th of November, but later went missing and could not be located until a month later. By this time her condition was poor but thankfully help came just in time. Throughout the month Ndoria grew stronger and had the much appreciated company of the other dependent orphans with special friend Bada sharing a stable at night right next door. Ndoria has made great progress and was able to finally spend time out with the others towards the end of the month.

December has been a very special month with a number of our ex orphans spending an unusual amount of time in the vicinity of the stockades and the dependent babies. The ex-orphans in this group are ably led my matriarch Emily, Edie, their two wild born babies Eve and Ella, a Ugandan elephant who came to our care as an infant who is now all grown up called Mweya, Ndara, Thoma, Seraa, Sweet Sally and Icholta along with handsome boys Lolokwe and Laikipia. There presence is appreciated by many of the dependent orphans except for the older mini matriarchs, Lesanju, Lempaute, and Wasessa who are painfully aware of the baby snatching tendency of the ex orphans. Our dependent Voi orphans take pains to keep their herd in tact. Interaction with the wild elephants which have been on a number of occasions this month is also watched carefully by these orphans, who are quick to whisk the group away if they feel that any of their charges are taking too much interest in heading off with the wild ones.

On the 23rd of December the reason for the heightened presence of Emily’s ex orphan herd was revealed. Emily distanced herself from the others at around 10.30 am and began behaving strangely. Then in the company of her human family she gave birth to her second wild born baby. It was a marvel and an event that was able to be filmed. The ex orphans immediately gathered around in heightened excitement as they gently nudged and encouraged the baby to stand. They then kicked up dust to help dry the calf and within half an hour new born Emma, as we have called her, was wobbling and soon walking within the legs of the protective herd. Emma is adorable and fearless, and Emily is happy to share her joy with those who have raised her and given her a second chance at life when she was orphaned in 1993 and came to our nursery as a tiny infant herself.

Magnificent ex orphan bull Lolokwe having spent time around the dependent young has not forgotten the joys of his milk bottle either and has when at the stockades begged for a treat. It is a sight to behold as our Keepers have to stretch to even reach Lolokwe’s mouth to oblige! Ex orphan Laikipia is a huge bull now, magnificent in every way. He oscillates between Emily’s herds, all his best friends from childhood, and his many new wild bull friends within Tsavo National park. His visits to the dependent babies and the ex orphans at the Voi stockades are always a welcomed sight.

Another calf was rescued this month by the Voi team who was estimated to be three years old. Sadly her rescue on the 10th of December came too late. She had bad injuries and had obviously been without her mother for a very long time before help came.

In order to share with you The Keepers have detailed the fun and games this month within the daily Keepers diaries complemented by wonderful photographs.

December 2014 day to day

01 Dec

The orphans had a peaceful day. Laikipia came to the stockade in the evening when the orphans were already in their stables enjoying their grewia branches. He drank some water and a few minutes later Emily and her whole herd arrived to drink. Emily sniffed the air and gave a deep greeting rumble to the orphans, especially Lesanju, making sure they were all there and safe. Emily’s herd stayed half an hour and were given some copra cake before they headed off to the browsing grounds on the main park. The vet unit brought in an orphan baby zebra from Amboseli but she was looking dull and worn out and was not active at all. She was quickly given her injections and milk bottle and taken into a nice new stable complex where she spent the night.

Laikipia at the stockade

Eve enjoying a scratch at the stockades

Lesanju out in the browsing fields