Keepers' Diaries, December 2015

Voi Reintegration Unit

Lesanju’s partially independent herd of older orphans, now numbering ten elephants, is comprised of the following besides Lesanju herself: Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Kivuko, Mzima, Taveta, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni, all of whom are becoming increasingly independent since the onset of the rains, food and water being plentiful and the independent orphans of Emily’s group so close at hand. Currently Emily’s completely independent and wild herd includes the following elephants - Emily with her babies Eve and Emma, Edie with her wild born babies Ella and Eden, and Sweet Sally with her tiny newly born baby boy Safi plus the nannies, namely Mweya, Thoma, Ndara, Seraa, and Icholta with bulls Moran, Laikipia and Lolokwe as male chaperones. This month we enjoyed a visit from independent bull Siria after an absence of nearly a year.

01 December 2015

It was a nice beginning of the day with the seniors in Lesanju’s herd coming out of their stockades around 6.45am, obeying their daily routine of feeding on the supplements before leaving the stockade, leaving the juniors in both Kenia and Panda’s herd behind. Soon the juniors came out of their section, drinking their milk bottle before following Araba who was out with them once again for a second day. Bada and Mudanda didn’t miss Wasessa’s absence as much today, as their focus was turned to interacting with Araba, the main attraction at the Voi stockades at this time. The orphans later settled in feeding on copra cake with Mudanda and Bada keeping Araba away from approaching the copra cake food. The keeper’s intervened to allow Araba the ability to enjoy copra feeding before leaving to the southern side of the stockade for browsing. Araba found a perfect browsing friend in Ndoria who accompanied her in browsing, with Ndii keeping a close eye on her movements. Lesanju’s herd of much older orphans, becoming semi-independent now comprised of Wasessa, Rombo, Taveta, Mzima, Sinya, Lempaute, Layoni and Dabassa and these more independent girls explored further onto the northern side of the park browsing without being followed by the keepers, arriving at the big water hole at 2pm, for a bath. They came to the stockade at 7pm, with the door of the stables remaining open for them. Later they came out browsing half way on the Msinga Hill as they are slowly becoming more independent and less inclined to stay in their stockades for long periods of time. Kenia and Ndii kept their herd browsing on the southern side of the stockade throughout the day, returning to the stockade for milk and water. Ndii lay down in some wonderful bathing in the stockade water hole, to impress Araba who indeed joined her in that wonderful bath. They later came back into the stockade safety at 5pm.

02 December 2015

It was a calm morning with Lesanju herd’s coming out of their stockades early at 5am, settling into eating some copra cake as the keepers were busy preparing the morning milk bottles for the juniors. After five minutes of feeding, totally independent orphans Mweya and Laikipia arrived in the stockade in their own unique style without any other members of Emily’s herd. Mweya a special little elephant who came to us as an infant from Uganda, and Laikipia a handsome bull from Northern Kenya. Both looked in fine form, and we think Mweya is pregnant with her own wild born baby on the way. After a wonderful copra cake feeding session, Mweya started her mischievous games on the rock close to the water trough, ambushing Mzima and engaging him in a pushing match. Taveta, Rombo and Lesanju came into the game, giving Mzima some crucial reinforcement to tackle Mweya head on. The two independent ex-orphans then took all the ten orphans in Lesanju’s older herd away from their Keepers, moving with them onto the northern side of the hill to browse. This happened before the juniors in Kenia, Ndii and Panda’s herd were even out of their night enclosure. The two herds never linked up throughout the day, with Lesanju and her ten member herd returning to the stockade safety at 7pm having peeled away from the independent Mweya and Laikipia. In Lesanju’s herd presently we have semi dependent orphans Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Kivuko, Mzima, Taveta, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni

03 December 2015

Lesanju’s herd today delayed their exit from the stockade compound, instead waiting and greeting the milk dependant orphans when they came out of their lion proof enclosures this morning. Wasessa went to renew her ties with both Mudanda and Bada having been rather absent of late, and all the babies went in single file to browse on the southern foot of Msinga Hill. Nelion, a baby from Mount Kenya, took Bada browsing half way up the Msinga Hill seemingly undaunted by the steep slopes, while the others preferred to stay on the lower slopes. Emily’s herd of our wonderful independent orphans came to visit in company of the two wild bulls They came to say hi and enjoy the fresh water at the stockade water trough. Babies Emma, Eden and Safi were busy eating some delicious copra cake from the ground, but were disturbed by the commotion between a wild bull and Seraa nearby, Sweet Sally’s newborn baby Safi stopped feeding and moved for comfort towards vigilent nanny Mweya. Emily’s herd then left the stockade heading to the browsing grounds where they met with both the Lesanju and Kenia’s herds. For a good long time the hills and plains were strewn with elephants, and all of them raised by our fair hands - it is these moments that make us so proud. Kenia and Lentili touched each other’s trunks in greeting and then ventured towards the wild bull and patiently interacted with him, before the ex orphans proceeded further a field and leaving the dependent babies behind. Lesanju and Kenia’s herds came together at the stockade later this evening and headed to bed in their stockades.

04 December 2015

The morning was perfect with plans to receive new orphans from the Nairobi nursery completed in incredibly good time. Our new arrivals at the Voi relocation unit were Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi on board the lorry transporting them from Nairobi. For them they were returning close to home, and area they were previously familiar with having all been orphaned in the southern sector of Tsavo East. Kenia and Lesanju’s herd were browsing close by waiting to receive and welcome them into the beautiful Voi orphan elephant herd, reading the hearts and minds of the Keepers and aware that new babies were on their way. They came a little early to the stockade to drink milk and water and then went to take a bath in grand preparation to receive the new arrivals. They were not heading anywhere determined to be around to welcome the newcomers. The mud bathing games were brilliant, with Ndii teaming up with Kenia to showcase their expertise in the game. Bada had some amazing rolling in the dust game, and was joined by Panda. Mzima and Dabassa had their own wonderful wrestling match in the middle of the water. Bada later welcomed Araba in a rock scratching game, but they were expelled prematurely by Tundani who forced his way into that scratching position. The new arrivals finally came and Wasessa, Lesanju and Lempaute ran to greet Mashariki who was very intimidated and ran off with the keepers running after her to try and calm her down. Then came out Arruba and finally Rorogoi. Taveta became a little naughty, testing a few of these new orphans by trying to mount them. He started with Arruba as soon after she was out of the truck and later went for Mashariki at the stockade water trough. The temperature change compared to Nairobi was felt by Mashariki who jumped into the stockade water trough to take her bath right there. Mbirikani and Kihari took Rorogoi to follow the others who were beginning to move out of the stockade. They all settled extremely well with Arruba mixing more freely with the Voi orphans, and Mashariki and Rorogoi followed each other. By the evening it was hard to determine who was new in Voi, they were totally content, happy, playful, delighted to meet old friends Tundani and Nelion and Lentilli.

05 December 2015

It was the second day at Voi stockade today for the new arrivals. Lesanju, Lempaute and all the other members of her herd came in to meet and greet the new arrivals. Lesanju then stamped her leading authority and everyone began to move towards the browsing ground. On arriving at the browsing grounds, Wasessa was seen to lavish attention on Araba and took her for some browsing, leaving her favorite babies Mudanda and Bada behind in an effort to bond with Araba. Bada seemed very sad to lose the company of her beloved adopted mother, but Lempaute soon took her and and Mudanda for some distraction games. Lesanju was more reserved, allowing her younger friends to interact more with the new arrivals. Naipoki had a soft spot for Mashariki and kept on following her and Rorogoi for some browsing company for most of the day. The orphans were still browsing on the southern side of the stockade and went back to the stockade at noon for milk, water and bathing into the stockade water hole. There were many wild elephants herds in both the middle and the big water hole that wanted to meet the new arrivals in the stockade too, which would be important before they interact with other wild elephant herds in Tsavo.

06 December 2015

It was a wonderful morning today with Emily’s herd arriving in the stockade soon after the milk dependant orphans had finished their morning milk bottle and were enjoying a pile of the copra cake. It was fantastic moment when Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi began interacting with the big Emily herd that included wild bulls among them, but the new babies were abit shy of the big wild boys. They loved the attention of Emily’s herd who were on hand to greet and meet the new orphans introduced into the Voi fold. Ndii and Mbirikani secured a golden opportunity to play with Emma away from the ex-orphans who were busy feeding on the copra cake and distracted by the new arrivals. Ndii attempted to woo Emma to go with them but Seraa spotted this and recovered her and brought her back to the ex-orphan herd. Kenia and Lesanju’s herd then left the stockades together for browsing and Emily’s herd ambled off into a different direction altogether.

07 December 2015

It was a wonderful morning with the seventeen milk dependant orphans coming out of their respective stockades to drink their milk bottle before settling down to eat their copra cake. Ten minutes into this feeding big bull and ex orphan Laikipia, together with independent females Seraa and Thoma arrived without the other members of Emily’s herd. Lesanju’s herd having left early in the morning was absent when the three ex-orphans arrived. Arruba and Rorogoi fell in love with Seraa joining her closely in the copra cake feeding. Seraa had a soft spot for Arruba and tenderly held her back, accompanying her for most of the time they stayed in the stockade. Ndii went to check up on Seraa’s intensions for Arruba, as Panda followed their interaction keenly too determined to not lose sight of their precious new babies. It was a big day for Laikipia as he was hero-worshiped by most of the junior orphans. Seraa concentrated on petting Arruba until Laikipia came in and gave her a slight push to alert her it was time to head on to the browsing grounds. The junior orphans followed them from behind, for a while, but let them continue on towards the Voi River on arriving at the browsing grounds. The rest of the day went on perfectly well with Lesanju’s herd coming back to the stockade at 6.40pm and leaving early the next morning.

08 December 2015

Emily’s herd arrived in the stockade today at 6am, catching up with the milk dependant orphans soon after they finished drinking their morning milk bottle. Lesanju’s herd that had come the previous evening were missing in action, as they had left the stockade in the early hours of the morning. Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi teamed up to extend their greetings to Emma. Mbirikani, Araba and Nelion went to greet Emma later, who was becoming the celebrity of the day at the stockades this morning. Eden felt jealous of Emma’s interaction with the stockade dependant orphans and moved in forcefully taking her away for some pushing games. New wild born Safi resorted to playing his own mischievous games in the dust away from them all. Mweya went to greet Mudanda who constantly shied away from her. The two herds moved out of the stockade together, parting ways in the field. Laikipia was missing from Emily’s herd when they arrived this morning but was later seen passing by the big water hole for water and a bath on his own. Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Kivuko, Mzima, Taveta, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni came back to the stockade at 6.45pm when the juniors were already in their stables, and left again in the night.

09 December 2015

The morning was cool with Emily’s herd missing Kenia, Ndii and Panda’s herd slightly as they had left the stockade at 6.30am for the field, a few minutes before their arrival. The ex-orphan herd had a wonderful time, drinking clean water from the stockade water trough and settling down to eat some copra cake. Lesanju’s herd was missing from Emily’s herd today having gone their own way. Thoma has been missing Sweet Sally’s games since she gave birth, but today she moved forward to engage her in some pushing and wrestling matches. Safi was very much surprised by Thoma’s mission with his mother and kindly lifted his head, requesting Thoma leave his lovely mother alone. Thoma noticed his discomfort in deference to him stopped the pushing game. Safi then went to suckle. He was obviously very happy as he closed his eyes in bliss while suckling his mother’s teats. Emily’s herd then left the stockade in the company of their two wild bull friends with Laikipia closing the chapter when he came in chasing a third wild bull away from the stockade. The wild bull ran past the stockade to join Emily’s herd, with Laikipia taking his rightful position as the distinguished king of the stockade, moving to join the others half an hour later.

10 December 2015

The morning was good with the orphan elephants in Ndii, Kenia and Panda’s herd leaving the stockade early this morning to catch up with the first light of the day in the field. The weather was fairly cold with some morning showers recording a 4mm down pour After three hours of some serious browsing travels, the orphans joined a big herd of wild elephants with the new arrivals, Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi shying away from them all initially, but with coaxing from the others soon began interacting a few minutes later. Emily and Lesanju’s herd were seen browsing together together, and later they visited the middle water hole searching for the juniors in Kenia’s herd little dependent group. This water hole had just a little water, as the bathing and re-filling had been shifted to the big water hole a week ago. Both Emily and Lesanju’s herd went together towards the Voi River circuit upon missing the small ones there. It was noon and milk time with the keepers calling the orphans towards the big water hole for milk, water and a bath. Unfortunately Arruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Araba ran off with the wild herd who took off on hearing the Keepers calling the orphans. Recovering them was quite technical as they went on running off with the wild herd whenever the keepers called them. A stockade pick-up was organised to help move deep into the northern side of the bush to recover them after a full hour of hustling. They then joined their friends in the middle water hole for their milk, browsing with them for the remainder of the day.

11 December 2015

It was a wonderful morning with the seventeen stockade dependent orphans leaving the stockade to catch up with the first light of the day in the browsing grounds. Lesanju’s herd arrived in the stockade at 6.20am, ten minutes after the dependent orphans had left. After drinking clean water from the stockade trough, Emily’s herd in the company of the two wild bulls arrived to join them in a big congregation of orphans, ex-orphans, and the two wild elephant’s recruits in the stockade. Emma, who has a soft spot for little Safi, began playing some wonderful lying down games with him. Eden, who has been quiet since losing her friend Emma to little Safi, was very much attracted to their game and joined Emma after Safi had left the game. Emma accommodated her, under the watchful eye of the wild elephant bull that was recruited as their main guardian and referee. The other wild bull in their company with the chopped trunk took Mzima for a test of strength wrestling match. The two herds later left the stockade together.

12 December 2015

It was a great day today as the seventeen milk dependent orphans in Kenia, Ndii and Panda’s herd, left the stockade for browsing after all the feeding and playing activities in the stockade compound were over. One hour later at 7am, Lesanju and Emily herd’s who seem to have spent the previous night together, came into the stockade, taking some gulps of water from the stockade trough and relaxing in the compound. Emma went down on the ground to play, allowing little Safi to satisfactorily climb on her in a nice and brilliant game. Wasessa, Sinya and Lesanju watched that game in awe, hoping to reach them, but they were blocked by the wild elephant guarding them together with Sweet Sally and Emily. Mweya had her buttock scratching game with Lempaute watching to see what few tactics she could learn. Mweya then noticed Lempaute concentrating on her games and took it to a higher level by stepping onto the rock anchoring one rear foot onto it. Lempaute became more curious watching that game with amazement. The two herds consisting of Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Kivuko, Mzima, Taveta, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni, and in Emily’s group Emily, Edie, Emma, Eden Edie and Ella, Mweya, Seraa, Thoma, Ndara, Sweet Sally, Safi, Irima, Moran, Icholta and Laikipia and Lolokwe later left the stockade together after an hour later but did not meet with the juniors in Ndii’s herd this day.

13 December 2015

The morning was fairly cold today when the orphans marched out of their night quarters emptying a morning milk bottle before proceeding onto the eastern side of the stockade to start a busy browsing session. After browsing for over four hours, Lesanju’s herd who had left the stockade the previous night including Wasessa, Lempaute, Sinya, Mzima, Taveta, Kivuko, Rombo, Taveta and Dabassa, caught up with Ndii and Kenia’s herd around 10am. There was a highly charged greeting, coupled with loud, happy trumpeting. Wasessa went to take her two babies Bada and Mudanda who seem to have missed her very much, with Lesanju settling with Araba, Ndii’s favorite baby. Araba felt very happy to interact with Lesanju and went rubbing her itchy head on Lesanju’s buttocks. Ndii and Lentili who had assumed the leadership of the dependant group got very embarrassed and teamed up together to discuss the recent interruption of Lesanju’s herd. They discussed strategies to counter the senior orphans influence over their little herd, lobbying Tundani to contribute on the same debate. The milk was taken to where the orphans were browsing as they did not come to the water hole due to some light rain showers that were on and off for the most of this day. Lesanju’s herd stayed with them for the remainder of the day, returning with them to the stockade that evening.

14 December 2015

It was a nice morning with all the preparation to receive the three orphans from Nairobi nearly sorted. However, the heavy rain we received over night posed a challenge to the smooth maneuver of the truck carrying Embu, Suswa and Elkerama in reaching the Voi stockade for off loading. The previous night rains were recorded at 80mm, the most we had received for a long time, and which had left erosion trenches and areas of soft soil wash-out on the roads. The heavy rains had also driven off Lesanju’s herd and they were not in the stockade to receive the new ones in the morning. Soon after the truck left the Voi town tarmac road making its way towards the park, it got stuck in one area of wash out sand on the road with the elephants still inside. The Voi stockade was called and the team was immediately dispatched with the de-snaring team truck and the tractor as well for a very quick rescue mission, pulling the truck out so the convoy could continue to the stockade for the offloading of the new arrivals. Elkerama came out first and was warmly received by Kenia, Panda and Ndii, Arruba and Lentili then approached Elkerama on a different mission of demanding one of his milk bottles instead of the real greeting interaction. Then came out Suswa, with Nelion coming in with the same mission of eyeing her milk bottle. Then finally out came Embu who took her milk bottle before moving out to the stockade water trough before they all walked towards the browsing grounds. Arruba, Rorogoi and Mashariki behaved themselves keeping their courtesy allowing the older orphans to take charge in welcoming the new arrivals into the stockade. Ndii soon noticed the tall and big size of Suswa and became a little bully, moving and pushing her to tell her she was the boss of the little group. The interaction was perfect but there was no mud bathing games in the stockade on their arrival. Arruba was so happy to interact with her favorite friend Suswa and they had a whole day of browsing in each other’s company. Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi had a wonderful moment of greeting them after all the welcoming party by the seniors was over. Embu became tired and sleepy from the long journey but became active once again later in the day. Most of the orphans had a cooling game in some moist soil which has been deepened by all the rain over night to the south of Msinga Hill. Bada, Ndii and Tundani were amazing in their dusting games inside these trenches, before joining the rest in browsing for the remainder of the day.

15 December 2015

The orphans and the new arrivals welcomed the morning rain showers as both Lesanju and Emily’s herds did not turn up to the stockade in the morning. The rains continued for the better half of this day resulting in a 10mm down pour. There was a big feeding congregation in the stockade with all twenty orphan elephants having their milk feeding. Ndii and Kenia felt very happy and honored to be given that responsibility of leading such a big herd of orphan elephants. Elkerama was seen to be enjoying being in the centre of the Voi orphans, settling down very well. The brilliant re-union of Suswa and her friend Arruba and their browsing interaction was the same story as yesterday. Ndii enjoyed playing on a fallen tree on Msinga Hill to impress the new arrivals. The twenty orphans came to take their milk bottle in the stockade that was the closest from their browsing grounds. Mashariki grabbed a second and final milk bottle from the keepers hand and greedily went to drink it in a separate feeding ground from the others. She slowly put it safely onto the ground after finishing its content as she knew for sure she needed that milk bottle for the next feeding. Araba enjoyed her delicious milk and lifted one of her front legs in enjoyment. After they returned to the same browsing grounds with the three new arrivals, who are completely settled with the other Voi orphans. Mbirikani sneaked away from the others to return to the stockade two hours before their usual arrival time, and the keepers had to take her back to join her friends in browsing. Lesanju’s herd returned to the stockade at 8pm, and rumbled their delight at meeting the new babies who by this time were tucked up in their night stockades. After drinking water they settled in to browse half way up Msinga Hill above the small stable complex, home to our antelope orphans, and Zebra.

16 December 2015

Emily’s herd were the first callers to the stockade in the morning. They came in at 5pm, with Lesanju’s herd coming down the hill to join them. Emily’s herd knew, as they always do that new orphan elephants had arrived from Nairobi and they had come to greet them. The keepers woke up and started to prepare forty milk bottles. Emily’s herd were very brief in their visit, picking up Lesanju’s herd and leaving the stockade with them before the juniors came out of their stockades. Mashariki, Arruba, Rorogoi, Embu, Suswa and Elkerama rumbled in the stockade to greet them as they went past tem heading to their browsing grounds. Lentili was seen to be mostly taking the lead in the front, leaving Kenia and Ndii trying to look after the new arrivals. Embu followed Arruba and Suswa whilst browsing, as Elkerama was more out going and was in the middle of the Voi orphans as if he had been at the stockades for two years already. Nelion who is always a heavy feeder took Elkerama further uphill hill to explore the untouched vegetation with the two becoming best friends. The rest of the day went on well with Lesanju’s herd coming into the stockade at 5.30pm.

17 December 2015

It was a wonderful morning when Lesanju’s herd who had spent the previous night browsing half way up the hill, come down early at 6am to greet the juniors coming out of their respective bomas. They were intrigued by the new arrivals having been absent on the day that Suswa, Embu and Elkerama arrived. Emily’s herd soon arrived to give a very extensive and formal greeting to the new dependent orphans. The dependent group now numbering twenty elephants, with Lesanju’s semi dependent group numbering ten, and Emily’s herd numbering seventeen with wild hangers on very often too. This makes for some fifty elephants milling around the Voi Stockades very often, an incredible sight for us all to enjoy. Suswa, Embu, Elkerama, Arruba, Rorogoi and Mashariki were quite shy of so many elephants showering them with attention and soon headed off, followed by the whole of Kenia and Ndii’s herd who left in the opposite direction leaving Naipoki behind. Mzima and Naipoki took little Safi and had a golden opportunity of hiding him between them for some copra cake feeding, savouring the baby time they were allowed to have. Soon after the orphans and the ex-orphans had enjoyed their copra cake, there was sudden great joy when Siria, who had gone wild with the other ex-orphan boys Bura and Solango for more than two years ago, returned suddenly with a bouncing pace in the company of Layoni. Emily’s herd then left the stockade for the field, taking Araba with them. Any attempts to call Araba back were futile as Mweya was blocking her return. Lesanju volunteered to follow Emily’s herd with a mission of bringing back Araba as she needed her milk. Lesanju was patient keeping close to Araba recovering her easily at 11am when she needed her next milk bottle. She and her herd brought Araba to the stockade at noon and left the juniors afterwards.

18 December 2015

It was a nice morning full of dark clouds predicting rain. There were some brief games in the stockade compound before Lentili took the lead and the led the way to the browsing grounds. Today for the first time, Embu, Suswa and Elkerama explored the far northern side of the stockade while browsing. Arruba and Suswa still stayed close to each other with Elkerama spending time with the other orphans. Araba and Ndoria stayed close whilst browsing as well, whilst Ndii has a soft spot more on Araba than the new arrivals as she looks younger than all of them. Afternoon came fast and the orphans headed to the big water hole for milk and a bath, led by Naipoki, Ishaq B, Suswa, Arruba and Bada. Soon the next group arrived with Ndoria finishing her milk bottle and ambushing Nelion, knocking him down with one head-on blow. The keepers assisted Nelion in getting up so he could continue feeding on his milk bottle. Ndoria paced fast towards the water hole as if nothing had happened leaving Nelion surprised when he rose to his feet as no elephant was close there at that time. There was then a big bathing party with Embu, Suswa, Elkerama, Tundani, Lentili and Nelion teaming up and enjoying the bath. Bada played with his trunk in the water, and later lying deep in the water he tossed his trunk skyward. They then browsed on some nice green grass and creepers close to the water hole, without linking up with Lesanju herd that never turned up that night night.

19 December 2015

The morning was full of baby games of hide and seek when the twenty orphan elephants had finished taking milk and feeding on their copra cake piles. They later moved out of the stockade under the careful leadership of Ndii and Lentili. Soon after browsing for four and a half hours, Lesanju’s herd caught up with them with Lesanju resuming her responsibility leading the orphans back to the stockade for milk and water. Araba was mistakenly left behind, with Mzima fetching her and taking her straight into the stockade for some milk bottle feeding. Mzima tried to take Araba’s milk as a reward for his efforts but the Keepers resisted. Embu was very hot in the Tsavo heat that afternoon and resorted to jumping into the stockade water trough enjoying her milk bottle in the water at the same time. Mzima wondered how much Embu might have paid for such a luxury as the keepers kept quiet allowing her to enjoy her special treatment. Elkerama grabbed his milk bottle from the keeper’s hands feeding himself with ease. Tundani went for a show down pushing game with Ishaq B with Mzima intervening and taking both of them down before proceeding for some mud bathing time. The rest of the day went on well with Kenia and Ndii’s herd coming back to the stockade that evening followed closely by Lesanju’s herd half an hour later, who spent their night browsing close to the stockade.

20 December 2015

It was a wonderful morning with Lesanju’s herd leaving Mzima behind as they proceeded to the browsing grounds. Mzima interacted with the stockade milk dependent orphans and had a great play time with them in the stockade compound. Soon Emily’s herd arrived with handsome Laikipia in their midst. Laikipia placed his trunk softly onto Safi’s back; Safi enjoyed this attention from such a stunning big bull very much. Sweet Sally was very happy today, taking on Mzima for a brief pushing game, whilst Safi got curious and worried for her mother’s safety in the game. Soon things got more excitable when Sweet Sally then lay on the ground for some rolling with Moran coming in and riding on her back. Safi and Emma ran off to take refuge with the other independent orphans conveying their worry with a scream. Sweet Sally then noticed that she was worrying the little ones and stopped playing, rose to her feet and ambled to their side offering comfort with her trunk. Emily’s herd then left the stockade with Kenia’s herd taking a different browsing direction. Kenia’s herd visited the middle water hole for milk, water and a bath, with Mzima marching off to search for Lesanju’s herd, who came later to the stockade at 2pm.

21 December 2015

The morning was good with the juniors in Kenia and Panda’s herd coming out as early as 6am, joining their senior friends in Lesanju’s herd who were waiting for them outside their night stockades. Wasessa had a soft spot for her babies Bada and Mudanda, while Lesanju and Lempaute embraced Araba. Ndoria became very jealous of Araba and throughout the day kept on creeping up on her for a fight. Mudanda and Bada were very exited trying to attach themselves with their adopted mother Wasessa throughout the day. Arruba, Rorogoi, Mashariki, Embu, Suswa and Elkerama teamed up in browsing with Ishaq B as browsing friends. The afternoon came fast, with the milk dependant orphans moving to the water hole first for their milk bottle with the seniors in Lesanju’s herd following them to the big water hole for a good mudbath. Ndoria, who seems to have developed a permanent hatred for Araba, probably from jealously, chased her after the evening milk bottle in the stockade. Araba ran into one of the taming stables to take refuge from Ndoria with Bada giving her some company in there. Their grewia branches were put inside there with them and the two enjoyed their night safety away from the rest of the orphan herd in peace.

22 December 2015

Lesanju’s herd left the stockade early in the morning, before the juniors came out of their night stockades. There were only some brief games in the stockade before moving to the browsing grounds. Then it was serious browsing business for four hours before a few orphans began playing some games. Ndoria scratched her head, rubbing it on the trunk of a dry fallen tree. Bada went down into some trenches that had been eroded by the recent rain and had a wonderful dusting spree, contorting into all sorts of shapes to fit in the gulley’s and slip and slide on their sharp slopes. Naipoki was amazed by Bada’s games and went to stand next to him to admire more closely. The orphans went into the big water hole for milk and water, but never took a bath as it was fairly cold today. The orphans then spent the rest of the browsing time close to this water pool, before Suswa led them to the stockade that evening. Lesanju’s herd returned into the stockade at 6.45pm, spending the night there.

23 December 2015

It was a nice morning today but Araba was still trying as much as possible to avoid Ndoria, with her jealousy towards Aruba apparently still in top gear. As soon as both Lesanju and Kenia herds had left the stockade at 6.30am, Emily’s herd arrived at the stockade so they just missed each other. Mweya went standing patiently behind Eden who was suckling from her mother Edie and took her as soon after finishing feeding. After Mweya had taken Eden from Edie, Laikipia moved in to see if Edie was interested in him. Edie turned and fought Laikipia back but Laikipia turned his anger into a happy strength-pushing game. The ex-orphans left the stockade travelling past the middle and the big water holes, looking for the stockade dependant orphans, before moving towards the Voi River. Lesanju’s herd, who we believed to have joined Emily’s herd later in the day, did not turn up to the stockade in the evening.

24 December 2015

The morning was calm with the milk dependant orphans welcoming their Christmas Eve with some games of ‘hide and seek’ in the stockade compound before moving out to their browsing grounds. After some serious browsing for more than three hours, in came an independent ex-orphan Morani who was their guest today, without other members of Emily’s herd to wish them a Merry Christmas. Morani browsed with them for half an hour, Araba completely attached herself to him to browse. Morani gave her perfect browsing company and she left with him as he moved off to browse towards the pipeline. She was later recovered by the keepers for the noon milk with Moran voluntarily escorting her to join her other milk dependant orphans; he left shortly afterwards. Laikipia was the next guest who arrived in the stockades alone to greet the babies this Christmas Eve. Lesanju’s herd came into the stockade later this evening around 6pm, and spent the night there in the company of their little friends.

25 December 2015

It was a wonderful Christmas morning with the orphans in Lesanju’s herd leaving the stockade for the field at 3.40am. The other milk dependant orphans then left the stockade after all their milk and supplement feeding. On arriving at the browsing grounds, Arruba went to one of the eroded trenches and started having a lovely dust bath. Mudanda was attracted to the game and went over to begin a dusting game of her own. Arruba was very happy to be joined by Mudanda and drifted off to sleep, not noticing the others move around her looking for good things to browse on. Emily’s herd also visited the stockade this Christmas day and we recalled with them the birth of her lovely baby Emma a year before, a birth that she shared with us Keepers. Seraa came in with her bull friend who was an extremely huge bull with a single tusk as the other one was broken down. The bull scared off the two teenage wild bulls in the company of Emily’s herd due to his dominance. This big bull continued to chase Seraa throughout the day, clearly interested in her. He was extraordinarily tame as well. Lesanju’s herd arrived in the stockade at 7pm, after celebrating their Christmas in the wild. Today being Christmas Keepers and our twenty dependent orphans visited by the following more independent orphans together with a few wild friends in their midst. Throughout the day this included Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Kivuko, Mzima, Taveta, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni, and in Emily’s herd Emily, Edie, Emma, Eden Edie and Ella, Mweya, Seraa, Thoma, Ndara, Sweet Sally, Safi, Irima, Moran, Icholta and Laikipia and Lolokwe and Siria.

26 December 2015

It was a beautiful morning with Lesanju’s herd leaving the stockade half an hour earlier than the time the milk dependant orphans come out of their respective night enclosures. They had a wonderful time browsing on the southern side of the stockade with Aruba and Suswa browsing close to one another. Tundani and Nelion went browsing half way up the hill, and then came down to join the others who were already on their way to the stockade which was their closest place for water and the noon milk bottle. There were then some nice scratching games on the rocks, with Panda taking a scratch on the very big rock, leaving the small one for Nelion. Bada ambushed Lentili in the water and held her hostage in there for some minutes as he pushed her back in whenever she attempted to come out. The games then came to an end with the orphans moving to the browsing grounds for the remainder of the day. On returning to the southern browsing grounds the orphans moved to browse half way up Msinga Hill. Nelion, Tundani and Elkerama decided to detach themselves and explore further up the hill to browse, not catching the eye of the keepers who came to notice their absence at 5pm. A thorough search for them begun and were later sited browsing on the peak of the hill, from where they were brought down for the safety of the stockade that night. Lesanju’s herd arrived in the stockade at 6.30pm, spending the night there.

27 December 2015

This morning we prepared to look for an abandoned baby elephant that was sighted by some guests on a game drive along the Mbololo River six kilometers from the Lugard falls air strip, believed to be an orphan. Reports of this orphan elephant calf reached the stockade late yesterday evening with that area being out of bounds for any movements after 6pm as that is the most protected rhino sanctuary area. Both the Voi stockade keepers and our de-snaring team got involved in the early morning search operation. The efforts of the search were boosted by the Trust’s helicopter and a huge area was air covered for more than three hours without any success. The elephant calf might have re-united with its family as there were several herds of wild elephant along the Mbololo river. The search was very extensive but was eventually called off when we were satisfied the orphan calf had obviously been reunited with a herd.

28 December 2015

The morning started well with the milk dependent orphans coming out of their stables for their morning milk bottle before settling to eat the copra cake. Lesanju’s herd had left the stockade an hour earlier and were out in the field moving on with their daily browsing routine. After the juniors in Kenia and Panda’s herd had left the stockade for browsing, under the leadership of Lentili and Ndii, Morani the ex-orphan came in with the sole mission of looking for the juniors and joining them. Morani had just missed them and didn’t spend any time in the stockade but went out on his searching mission to the browsing grounds. He wasn’t lucky to link up with the juniors as they had continued to browse on the far northern side of the stockade turning slowly and arriving at the middle water pool at noon. After milk, Kihari and Naipoki led the others to plunge into the water for bathing. Bada and Mbirikani engaged one another in a tough bathing competition with Bada getting exhausted and marching out, giving Mbirikani a clean win. Kenia also participated in the bathing competition, kneeling on her front legs in a unique game. The rest of the browsing went on close to that water hole. Later, Lesanju’s herd arrived in the stockade around 6.20pm.

29 December 2015

It was a nice beginning of the day with Thoma, Mweya and Siria being the earliest callers to the stockade without any other members of the ex-orphan herd. Lesanju’s herd had just left the stockade for the field an hour before the arrival of these three ex-orphans. They then all left for the field after all the supplement feeding in the stockade was over. Aruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi, Embu, Elkerama and Suswa teamed up in browsing away from the others, but joined them an hour or so later when the ex-orphans had left. Emily’s herd was seen from a distance browsing on the eastern foot of Msinga Hill. Later on in the day Tundani broke the silence by lying in an erosion trench to enjoy a wonderful dusting game, with Embu curious of joining him but later changing her mind. Lesanju’s herd never came to the stockade this evening. They spent the whole night enjoying some browse in the wild.

30 December 2015

The orphans in both Kenia and Panda’s herd left the stockade without the arrival of Lesanju’s herd this morning. Later on the day the orphans explored more onto the northern side of the stockade, browsing on some tall, lush green grass, with the mission to look for the where abouts of Lesanju’s herd. Mudanda and Bada went to scratch on a tree trunk and were later joined by Panda. The orphans went for milk and water at the big water hole and still wondered where Lesanju’s herd could be. At 6pm when the orphans had settled in the stockade feasting on the grewia branches, in came Lesanju’s herd in the company of Emily’s herd. Seraa’s wild elephant bull friend was not present today, and she took the lead of Lesanju’s herd with Siria bringing up the rear for security reasons. They had a wonderful time drinking in the stockade with Suswa, Embu, Elkerama, Mudanda, Kenia and Ndii saluting them with a rumble as they marched off their stables.

31 December 2015

Kenia and Panda’s herd left the stockade early in the morning catching up with the first light of the day in the field. Lesanju’s herd which had gone with Emily last evening, hadn’t turned up at the stockade this morning. The orphans browsed their way to the western side of the stockade with Nelion and Elkerama taking them half way onto the hill in browsing. After three hours of very peaceful and calm browsing, Emily’s herd in company of the Lesanju’s herd were sported browsing past the juniors on the foot of the hill. They integrated with the ex-orphans well, browsing comfortably with them. Morani tried to show is love for Edie and was met with some resistance in a fight by a wild bull with a chopped trunk as he is also in love with Edie. This fight scared off Layoni who fled off from the fighting scene, with Edie watching them all with great curiosity. Ndii was browsing closely with Mudanda today, which Mudanda enjoyed since Wasessa has been with Lesanju and out in the wild much of the month she savours Ndii’s company. The juniors then visited the middle water hole where Bada went to show off his expertise in the bathing game to the six new arrivals. The orphans then went back to the stockade under the careful leadership of Lentili and Suswa.