Keepers' Diaries, December 2017
Voi Reintegration Unit
By the end of December the whole area surrounding Voi was lush and green following the more substantial rain that fell throughout the course of the month. This was superseded by the second homecoming of Emily’s Ex Orphan herd in the middle of the month, from groups ranches outside of the National Park and into Tsavo West were they migrate to during the dry season.
01 December 2017
It was a lovely beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants drinking a morning milk bottle before settling to enjoy some dairy cubes. There were some brief games around the stockade compound before the orphans left for the browsing grounds.
Soon after the juniors left the stockades, Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Kivuko and Dabassa arrived and enjoyed some supplement feeding before making their way into to the Park.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants had a wonderful time enjoying their midday mud bath after which the rest of the afternoon was spent browsing close to the waterhole.
02 December 2017
The earliest callers to the stockade this morning were Layoni and Dabassa. The two had separated from the rest of the Ex Orphans, and came to browse around Msinga Hill, occasionally visiting the stockade for supplements. A short while later they were joined by three other Ex Orphans. The two older boys in the group left in a rush headed for the browsing fields while the other three enjoyed some supplement feeding before running off to join the two boys joining them in the fields where they had met up with the stockade dependant orphan elephants.
The two boys tried to hide among the juniors but were soon discovered by Lempaute and Kivuko. Ndii, Panda, Kihari and Naipoki sandwiched little Tahri between them preventing the visiting Ex Orphans from stealing the little one from them. The five Ex Orphans then left for the Mzima spring-Mombasa water pipe line while the juniors continued with their browsing activities.
03 December 2017
The morning began with the stockade dependant orphan elephants emptying a morning milk bottle and settling for some supplement feeding before engaging in some brief dusting games at the stockade compound.
Ndii saw that Ajali had managed to spirit Tahri away and the two of them were enjoying a private dusting session. Ndii came running in to fetch her adopted baby and started to lead the group to the browsing grounds.
Ishaq-B and Panda were busy enjoying a scratching session against a rock boulder when they saw the others heading out and joined the group.
Araba was seen snuggling up to Kenia who was happy to take the youngster under her wing and act as her adopted mother.
04 December 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with Lempaute, Dabassa, Sinya, Kivuko and Layoni arriving at the stockades early in the morning, positioning themselves for supplement foods as they waited for the juniors to finish their milk bottle.
Once the supplement feeding was done Kenia, Ndii and Kihari led the juniors away from the stockades leaving the five Ex Orphans behind. Layoni enjoyed scratching his bottom against a rock boulder close to the stockade water trough. Kivuko engaged Dabassa in a test of strength pushing game. She stood on the top of the terrace to have the advantage over Dabassa.
Today Ndii was watching over Araba as the group was in the browsing fields. Lentili took the opportunity to spend some time with little Tarhi. At noon the orphans visited the baobab water hole where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games. Nelion utilized his long growing tusks to try and uproot a big rock close to the water hole, but the rock was too heavy and as such his attempts were unsuccessful.
05 December 2017
The morning began with the usual milk and supplement feed after which the orphans engaged in socializing games around the stockade compound. While playing they were joined Sinya, Lempaute and Kivuko. While the three Ex Orphans waited to be given some diary cubes, the juniors headed to the browsing fields. The three enjoyed their supplements after which they enjoyed scratching sessions against various outcropping rocks around the stockade compound.
While the juniors browsed on the western side of the stockade, Mashariki was seen enjoying close browsing ties with Araba. Ndii became jealous and left Tahri, who she was feeding with, to come and get Araba to hand her over to Kenia, where she felt Araba belonged, before resuming her browsing activities with Tahri.
06 December 2017
The day began with some light rain sprinkles as the orphans exited their stockade for their morning milk bottle after which they settled to feed on range cubes that had been places in the supplement feeding trough for them. They then enjoyed a wondering dusting game and were having so much fun that they did not notice Lempaute who had arrived at the stockades and was enjoying a scratching session against a rock boulder. When Ndii, Kenia and Kihari noticed the older female they quickly gathered their orphan herd together and led them to the browsing grounds. Tahri chose to stay behind as she wanted to greet Lempaute. Ajali was quick to come and get the youngster so that she could rejoin the junior group. The day was spent browsing peacefully in the park until it was time to return to the stockades for the night.
07 December 2017
The orphans exited their stockades to find their milk bottles lined up and waiting for them. They came for their share in an organized manner in groups of five downing their milk before enjoying some games around the stockade compound after which they made their way to the browsing grounds.
On arrival at the eastern foot of Msinga Hill, Rorogoi, Bada and Nelion took charge of leading the others up the hill for the browsing session for the morning until it was time for the noon mudbath and milk feed at the baobab water hole. The orphan elephants had a lot of fun in the mudbath with Ishaq-B riding on the walls of the water pan and rolling around in the water. Ndoria came to join Arruba and Mudanda at the mud bath but the two were unsure of her intentions and ran out of the water. Mbirikani was the last to leave the water and ran to join her group who had begun the afternoons browsing session.
08 December 2017
The morning was good with Kenia and Ndii working hard to try prevent Panda and Ishaq-B from taking over the “mothering role” of Araba and Tahri. The two seemed to be in deep discussions which had to be stopped when it was time to head to the browsing grounds. They did not hold any ill will towards Panda and Ishaq-B who were able to enjoy some quiet time with the two babies.
The orphans visited the baobab water hole at noon for milk, water and a mud bath. Mudanda and Suswa remained in the water after the rest had left as they were engaged in a tough bathing competition. Arruba went to join them and showed off some of her mud-bathing skills as she rolled around in the water.
The rest of days browsing activities took place from the baobab water hole to the middle waterhole, then the orphans headed back to the safety of the stockades for the night under Mudanda and Rorogoi’s leadership.
09 December 2017
The morning started well with the sun rising over the horizon early in the morning predicting a sunny and hot day ahead. The stockade dependant orphan elephants browsed in single file, with Nelion, Bada, Mudanda, Arruba and Rorogoi seeking shelter from the scorching sun under a tree in the late morning. The five relaxed there for more than twenty minutes before rejoining their friends who were making their way towards the baobab water hole for their milk bottle, some water and a mud bath.
Panda engaged Arruba in a wrestling match, which did not sit well with Arruba, who cried out for help from Kenia who intervened and maintained peace between the two. On arriving at the water hole, the orphans had a quick bath before engaging in other activities. Nelion enjoyed a scratching session on a fallen tree trunk where he was joined by Arruba. Embu had a fun time dust-bathing, before rolling onto the grass and laying there for a while. The afternoons browsing activities took place around the waterhole.
10 December 2017
The morning was good with the earliest callers of the stockade being Laikipia escorted by Lempaute, Sinya and Kivuko. Laikipia had been absent when Emily and Ndara’s herds visited the stockades a few weeks ago and the keepers were happy to see that he was well. The four had a drink from the stockade waterhole after which they headed back to the park.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants who had rumbled a greeting to the Ex Orphans while they finished their milk and supplement feeding soon followed their older friends catching up with them on the northern side of the stockade. The juniors surrounded Laikipia who felt very much like a hero as they all came up to touch and greet him. He then headed to the Voi River to browse followed by Lempaute, Sinya and Kivuko.
11 December 2017
The morning began with the stockade dependant orphans playing happily around the stockade compound before taking off to the browsing grounds. After the orphans had been feeding for three hours or so, the keepers on Msinga Hill spotted a big herd of elephants. Following a monitoring patrol it was ascertained that it was part of Emily’s herd.
Emily, Lesanju, Tassia, Seraa and Rombo were missing from the group and were found waiting behind the elephant grid at the Park entry as they had missed the path under the standard gauge railway corridor that the rest of the herd had used. A section of the fence was opened for them to come in the Park and they joined up with the rest of their herd who was heading to the stockade under Ndara’s leadership. It is amazing how these Ex Orphans come all the way from the Mwatate Sanctuary to the stockades covering a distance of over fifty miles. The keepers were happy to see a wild elephant bull among the Ex Orphan herd who had a drink and relaxed at the stockade compound before heading to the northern side of the stockade to feed.
12 December 2017
This morning, soon after the juniors had left, Ndara was seen coming to the stockades. She was in the company of her baby Neptune, Wasessa, Rombo, Mzima and Tassia. The six were welcomed by the two inseparable boys Layoni and Dabassa who were already enjoying a drink from the stockade water trough.
Following a drink Mzima engaged Dabassa in a tough strength test and pushing game after which the entire group left the stockade making their way to the Western side of Msinga Hill. The eight Ex Orphans joined up with Sweet Sally, Safi, Lolokwe, Thoma and Thor all of whom had separated from Emily’s herd.
In the evening, Panda sneaked away from the rest of the herd taking Tahri with her, introducing the youngster to a wonderful mud-bathing game. The two enjoyed playing together before joining the orphan herd as they made the journey back to the stockades in the evening.
13 December 2017
The morning was cloudy with light rain sprinkles touching the ground as the stockade dependant orphan elephants assembled for their delicious milk bottle before proceeding for the special Lucerne grass pellets, dairy cubes and copra cake that was put out for them by the keepers. After the feast Araba snuggled up to Kenia while Tahri went straight to Ndii. Panda and Ishaq-B stood close by waiting to see if there would be an opening that would allow them to steal the babies from their older friends.
Kenia’s gentle character played a large role in Araba choosing her as her “mother” as she gets lots of peace and love from the mini-Matriarch. Lentili, Mudanda, Naipoki, Rorogoi, Mbirikani, Arruba and Suswa separated from the rest of the orphan herd once out in the field and undertook their own browsing activities. Their small group met up with the rest of the orphan herd at the noon waterhole where they all congregated for some milk, water and a mud bath.
14 December 2017
Lesanju and Lempaute came to the stockade this morning when they met up with Layoni and Dabassa who had arrived before them. The two greeted her warmly, embracing her and showing her the respect she deserves as the matriarchal mother she has become.
Ishaq-B and Kihari led the group towards the browsing grounds shortly after Lesanju’s arrival with Kenia and Ndii making sure that their adopted babies, Araba and Tahri, did not leave their side. Lesanju left the stockades a short while later in an effort to catch up with the juniors but did not meet up with them again today.
The orphans headed to the water hole at noon, with Lentili, Arruba, Bada and Mashariki arriving with the first group. Ishaq-B secured an opportunity to interact with Tahri while Ndii enjoyed some mud bathing games, becoming the star of the day. Mbirikani tried to challenge her by rolling around in the water like a mudfish but her skills were no match for Ndii’s.
15 December 2017
This morning the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding before engaging in a few socializing games around the stockade compound after which they proceeded to the browsing grounds.
Ndii was right behind with her adopted darling Tahri as Kenia stuck with her loved one Araba. The orphans had a wonderful time browsing on the lower plains on the northern side of Msinga Hill, before visiting the baobab water hole in the afternoon. They had so much fun playing that their happy trumpeting attracted the attention of a big wild bull elephant.
Tundani, Nelion and Bada led the orphans in welcoming the bull into the water hole. The rest of the orphans stood close by stretching out their trunks in greeting. The bull then made his way to the middle waterhole followed by the orphan herd. The orphans browsed close to the water hole, while the bull made his way to the Voi River.
16 December 2017
The morning started with the stockade dependant orphans gulping down their morning milk bottle and settling for the supplement feeding. They later played some hide and seek games followed by soil dusting games around the stockade compound.
Soon after the juniors left for the browsing fields Emily’s herd arrived at the stockade. Among the group was Laikipia, Ndara, Tassia, Lempaute, Sinya, Dabassa, Layoni and Kivuko. The Ex Orphans enjoyed a drink of clean water from the stockade water trough after which they had a wonderful time relaxing around the stockade compound.
Wasessa engaged Dabassa in a wrestling match while Mzima took on Rombo. Sweet Sally leaned against a rock for a scratching session before giving way for Seraa to do the same after which they headed to the browsing fields.
17 December 2017
This morning Emily’s herd arrived bright and early assembling around the stockade water trough quenching their thirst and playing games around the stockade compound. Emily had a wonderful scratching game on a rock close to the stockade water trough while Kivuko engaged Emma in a wrestling match and Mzima took on Rombo. The Ex Orphans left the stockade for the browsing grounds before the stockade dependant orphans exited their stockades to begin the day.
The juniors enjoyed browsing on the lush green grass and fed until it was time to visit the baobab waterhole where they drank their milk and enjoyed mud-bathing games. Bada lay in the middle of the water and Tundani, Arruba and Mudanda enjoyed scratching against a fallen tree trunk after which they joined the rest of the group for the afternoon browsing session.
18 December 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants feeding on dairy cubes after emptying their morning milk bottle. Ishaq-B then went and put her trunk on Tahri’s back pulling her close. Ndii, who was at the dustbath, came running up and took charge of Tahri and began the journey to the browsing fields.
Soon after the juniors left the stockade, Emily and Lesanju’s herds arrived. The Ex Orphans had a drink from the stockade water trough before engaging in some brief games at the stockade compound. Emily and Sweet Sally enjoyed scratching their bottoms against a rock while Eden, Safi and Inca had fun stirring up the water in the stockade trough with their little trunks. Eden snuck up behind Safi and climbed on his back. Inca saw what was happening and quickly moved away from Eden to avoid being her next victim. The Ex Orphans then left for the browsing fields. Sadly they did not meet up with the juniors.
19 December 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants moving up Msinga Hill to browse following the morning milk bottle and supplement feeding. At 8.20am, Emily and Lesanju herds, which are now together, came to browse on the foot of Msinga Hill moving slowly past the middle and big water holes as they headed towards the Voi River.
The juniors browsed for four hours after which Panda introduced a game of sliding down a slope. Ishaq-B and Bada seemed very excited about the game and joined Panda while Mudanda, Arruba and Rorogoi stood watching them. The orphans then came down and enjoyed their afternoon milk bottle, avoiding the waterhole as it was a cold day. They browsed at the base of Msinga Hill for the rest of the afternoon.
20 December 2017
The first to arrive at the stockades this morning was Lesanju and Lempaute and went straight to the water trough for a drink. A few minutes after their arrival they were followed by Tassia and Mweya with Laikipia, Thoma and baby Thor coming in soon after. Thor enjoyed a scratching session against a rock and the group returned to the browsing fields after quenching their thirst.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants exited their stockades after the seven visiting Ex Orphans had left. They downed their milk and then headed to the browsing field where they fed in single file, visiting the baobab waterhole in the afternoon where they had fun playing mud bathing games. Bada went to the center of the pool where he rolled around in the water. Kenia admired his game for a few minutes before joining him. Ndii sat on the walls of the hole and slid into the water. The afternoon was spent browsing until it was time to return to the stockades for the night.
21 December 2017
The morning started with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding after which they played some hide and seek games and enjoyed a dust-bath before heading to the eastern side of Msinga Hill to browse.
After browsing for two hours Emily’s herd arrived and noticed the juniors browsing on the hill side.
Edie, Wasessa and Sweet Sally took the babies, Eve, Emma, Eden and Safi all the way to the stockade to drink water before rejoining the rest of the Ex Orphans.
Kenia, Kihari and Ndii kept their orphan herd up on Msinga Hill and did not come down until Emily’s herd had left at noon headed for the Mzima-Mombasa water pipeline. The juniors had their milk at the foot of the hill before making their way to the baobab water hole. It was quite cold today and as such they bathed briefly before resuming with their browsing activities.
22 December 2017
It was a wonderful beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants lying down in the red soil for dusting games following the milk and supplement feeding. They later settled on the western foot of Msinga Hill for the morning browsing session. After browsing for more than three hours, Panda embraced Tahri and Ndii came running in to get her “baby”. Panda wanted to try and fight Ndii for Tahri’s affection but Ndii just stood aside and waited patiently for Tahri to come to her.
The orphans had their noon milk feed on the foot of Msinga Hill after which they visited the baobab water hole at 2pm to drink water and have a wallow. In the afternoon Naipoki and Tundani engaged each other in a tough wrestling match which while looking rough was actually a friendly game.
23 December 2017
This morning Sweet Sally with her calf Safi, Tassia, Serra, Mzima and Rombo visited the stockade for a drink in the company of a wild bull elephant. The Ex Orphan group had a quick drink and left taking the same route they had come from. Safi was very happy to have been the centre of attention this morning and was in a joyful mood when they left.
The stockade dependant orphans exited their stockade and downed their milk bottle before settling to enjoy some dairy cubes and Lucerne pellets. Kenia, Ndii and Mbirikani then led the group to the browsing grounds and they settled to feed on the northern side of the stockade until it was time for the noon mudbath. They had a lot of fun playing in the mud wallow at the baobab waterhole and browsed around that area for the rest of the day.
24 December 2017
It was a perfect beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphans running out of their stockades for their milk bottle after which they settled to enjoy some supplements before engaging in socializing games around the compound.
Mudanda and Lentili led the group to the field this morning and they browsed their way from the western side of the stockade to the northern side arriving at the baobab waterhole in time for the midday milk feed. Rorogoi, Mashariki, Nguvu, Ajali, Arruba and Suswa downed their share and ran straight to the mudwallow scaring away a big wild elephant bull that was relaxing at the water hole.
The orphans became engaged in a bathing competition with Panda lying down and welcoming Embu to climb over her. Tundani and Bada took each other to task playing swimming games in the middle of the waterhole. Tundani lay on his opponent to prevent him from shining and winning the game.
25 December 2017
Christmas morning there was a lot of cloud cover predicting a cold day ahead. The stockade dependant orphans enjoyed their normal morning routine of milk followed by copra cake blended with range cubes and lucerne grass pellets. They then all played around the stockade for a spell before leaving for the browsing grounds.
Ndii stuck close to her adopted baby Tahri and Kenia was bumper to bumper with Araba. The orphans later visited the baobab water hole where Ndoria placed herself in a small mud wallow close to the main water hole and enjoyed a partial bath before exiting to allow Ishaq-B and Bada to do the same. Embu and Nguvu lay on the edge of the mudwallow not wanting to get into the water as it was too cold.
26 December 2017
The morning started well with the orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding before proceeding to the browsing grounds. Mbirikani and Nelion took the lead of the group attempting to lead them up Msinga Hill but were unsuccessful in doing so as Kihari, Mudanda, Ajali and Nguvu diverted the group to the far northern flat lands.
A few minutes before mud bath time, two fighting male impala came by chasing each other and managed to scare the orphans who ran way towards the baobab water hole. They all plunged into the water, enjoying a vigorous bath while charging in and out of water.
Naipoki and Tundani seemed to have a score to settle and enjoyed in a strength testing game. The afternoon was spent browsing close to the waterhole.
27 December 2017
The morning was wonderful as the orphans exited their stockades and engaging in games following their milk and supplement feeding. Once in the browsing filed they had an amazing game of hide and seek in the thick bushes. Embu got the opportunity to lead the others to the browsing grounds while Mashariki led them to the baobab water hole in the afternoon.
The juniors had a lot of fun in the mud bath, with Rorogoi shining in her game of sliding down the slippery walls into the water. Bada and Nelion became jealous of Rorogoi’s performance and the attention she was getting, and came over to push her from both sides, bringing an end to her fun. Panda sat on the mudwallow walls with her front legs in the water as she fetched water with her trunk and sprayed it onto her back. Tahri lay beside Panda and enjoyed being splashed by the water Panda was spraying onto herself. Following the mudbath Suswa had a scratching game.
28 December 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants drinking a morning milk bottle and settling down for the supplement feeding. They had some very brief games at the compound before following Lentili and Ishaq-B to the browsing grounds.
An hour after the juniors departure, Ndara, baby Neptune, Seraa, Tassia, Lempaute, Siria, Mzima, Sweet Sally, baby Safi, Kivuko, Lesanju, and Taveta in the company of a wild bull elephant came to the stockades and proceeded to empty the water trough as they quenched their thirst.
The missing members of the group were seen browsing close to the middle water hole. Taveta and Lempaute were side by side the entire time whilst they were in the stockade compound, while Sweet Sally was happy to allow Seraa to play nanny to Safi. The Ex Orphan group remained at the stockades for more than half an hour before they returned to the Park.
29 December 2017
The morning started with the stockade dependent orphans running out of their stockades and peacefully assembling for their milk and supplement foods. They then left for the browsing ground under the stewardship of Kihari and Naipoki. Two hours after they had left the stockade Siria came for a drink on his own without any of the other Ex Orphans. He had a drink of water and left ten minutes later.
The orphan herd had a wonderful browsing session on the lower eastern side of the stockade before visiting the baobab water hole in the afternoon. Following the noon milk feed they enjoyed mud-bathing games. While wallowing a big wild bull elephant joined them. Most of the orphans quickly exited the water while Ajali and Nguvu remained to welcome the wild elephant bull. Tundani seemed nervous about the wild bull’s arrival and calmed down only when he left. Embu followed the bull for a short while before rejoining her friends for the afternoon browsing session.
30 December 2017
The morning began with some wonderful soil dusting games coupled with a game of chasing away the baboons that had come down the Msinga Hill. Soon after the juniors left the stockade for the browsing grounds, Emily and Lesanju herds arrived to quench their thirst at the water trough.
Laikipia then mischievously climbed into the water trough and stood there as if his behaviour was perfectly normal.
At the noon mud bath, Embu scooped some muddy water up and started to throw it around splashing the rest of the orphans. Bada went to stand behind Embu so as to be out of her firing range while Araba anchored her head against Kenia and had a scratching session before the group resumed their browsing activities for the rest of the day.
31 December 2017
The morning was cool as the orphans exited their stockades and came to enjoy their morning milk bottle and supplement foods. They briefly played around the stockade compound until Kenia signaled that it was time to head out for the day.
Soon after the stockade dependant orphans had left the stockade this morning, a few of Emily’s herd visited the compound. Icholta, baby Inca, Thoma, baby Thor, Ndara, baby Neptune, Seraa, Taveta and Dabassa enjoyed drinking from the stockade water trough. Taveta and Dabassa played a pushing game and became engaged in a strength testing competition. The Ex Orphan group left the stockade compound and headed in the direction they had come from.
At the noon mud bath the orphans had a wonderful time as they were all engaged in bathing activities. Panda who was in the middle of the water shinning in some rolling games ended her bathing games when Ndoria came and placed her trunk on Panda’s back, preventing her from rolling around.