Keepers' Diaries, February 2002

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants

01 February 2002

All the orphans fed close to their Keepers all day, because Nasalot and Mulika, who are newcomers from the Nursery, were feeling a little insecure in their new surroundings. Imenti alerted the Keepers to the presence of an old bull buffalo, who would not budge before a threat. The Keepers could see that the buffalo was determined not to move, and might charge, so the orphans left that place. During the noon mudbath Salama pushed Mulika down into the mud, but Emily intervened, pushing him away, warning him not to bully the new babies. Later Emily and Imenti shared a tree opposite one another, rubbing the mud from their bodies.

02 February 2002

During the mudbath, Edie stood on Nyiro's head, holding it under the water, so the Keepers had to rush in and rescue him. Nyiro then exacted revenge, furious with Edie, pushing her out of the mudbath. Edie proved stronger. Later Emily lay down in the dust and Tsavo tried to climb onto her tummy, falling off when she decided to get up.

03 February 2002

Taking the lead, Yatta and Kinna took their group far from Mukwaju, Salama and Laikipia, who were loitering and playing. This meant that the Keepers had to separate in order for some to remain with the little boys. Eventually Emily intervened, insisting that Kinna and Yatta return to the others.

04 February 2002

The orphans were very happy to be joined by Ndume out in the bush this morning. Ndume walked majestically towards them, swinging his ears and trunk forwards and backwards in a gesture of happiness and wellbeing, which intimidated Mweiga, who ran to Emily. During mudbath a tug of war developed between Nyiro and Mukwaju, which was won by Mukwaju who pushed Nyiro down. Nyiro then retaliated later, and the tussle continued even after the mudbath, Nyiro seeking out Tsavo who took to sheltering near Emily for protection. Even so, Nyiro had a go at him, but Emily intervened to break up the argument.

05 February 2002

Ndume joined the orphans early in the morning as they were leaving the Night Stockades and remained with the group all day. Nyiro, Kinna and Maungu had a wonderful game on the wall at the edge of the mudbath pool. Nyiro lay down on his side, swivelling round and round, Maungu likewise lay down and Kinna poured mud over her. Maungu enjoyed this, slapping the water with her trunk.

06 February 2002

Ndume joined Emily's group at the mudbath. At 4.30 p.m. in the afternoon he mounted Aitong, which Emily did not like. At each attempt, she tried to block him. At around 5 p.m. in the evening, Mvita became separated from the others whilst out feeding. She trumpeted for help and Aitong rushed to collect her.

07 February 2002

Ndume joined Emily's group when they left the Stockades in the morning. He tried to mount Aitong again, and Imenti tried to block him by kicking him. When Ndume turned on him, Imenti retreated. Nasalot was restless when she realised that her closest friend, Mulika, was not present, having lagged behind the group, feeding leisurely. Nasalot searched and found her, and then kept close by her for the rest of the day.

08 February 2002

Ndume was waiting at the Stockades again, and herded Aitong away from the others into the bush. Emily followed closely, leaving the others. The three returned after 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Nyiro and Lolokwe tested each other's strength in what began as a game, but degenerated into war when Nyiro flattened Lolokwe, attracting the attention of all the Keepers who had to intervene.

09 February 2002

Ilingwezi initiated a bush bashing game in which all the others took part. Ndume turned up again to join Emily's group at 9 a.m. and again mounted Aitong. During the mudbath, Ndume lay down and splashed mud all over the others using his strong trunk, something they all enjoyed immensely.

10 February 2002

Nasalot and Mulika felt threatened when Ndume again mounted Aitong repeatedly. At each session they rushed to the Keepers for protection. In the evening Emily made sure all the babies were O.K., doing the rounds of each Stockade to ensure that all were present and correct.

11 February 2002

It was a hot day, so Mulika and Nasalot joined Tsavo for a swim in the mud pool at noon, taking their cue from him. Meanwhile Salama, Laikipia and Natumi encouraged the others to join in a game of sliding down the walls of the mudbath. Aitong's body was completely submerged in the water with only her trunk visible, which Loisaba pulled. This caused Aitong to surface hurriedly.

12 February 2002

The day started badly for Mukwaju when he got pushed by Natumi into the electrified Spring Gate, the electric current also hitting Natumi and Edie, who were in contact with him. Natumi was highly threatened by a barking impala and led a stampede towards the Keepers, in which Maungu was last. Ndume was not at the Stockade in the morning which made Aitong restless. She repeatedly went off to feed on her own as though to search for him. Meanwhile Imenti shepherded the group out, swinging his trunk and head from side to side happily.

13 February 2002

Tsavo left Emily to seek out Natumi's group and initiate a tussle with Mukwaju. Later Mukwaju tried to mount Icholta, and enjoyed feeding close to her all day. After the mudbath Emily lay down and sprayed red dust over her whole body.

14 February 2002

The day was cool. Nyiro and Kinna tried to entice Mulika and Nasalot into the mud pool, but they declined. Emily went to sit on a fallen tree trunk with the Keepers, whilst Icholta and Ilingwezi enjoyed chasing a flock of guineafowl, trumpeting with excitement.

15 February 2002

There was a scramble for the milk between Ndara and Maungu today, when Maungu gulped her ration down fast and then tried to get Ndara's. The Keepers had to separate them. As it was very hot, Emily's group rested under shade most of the day.

16 February 2002

When the orphans left the Stockades this morning, Mweiga was showing signs of weakness and seemed unwell. Throughout the day, she walked slowly and weakly, lagging far behind all the others, and Aitong would not leave her, remaining close by to keep her company and look after her. Nyiro mounted Lolokwe, and these two spent time quite a long way from the Keepers, and on their own. Mvita began to follow them, but upon realising that the Keepers were not nearby, Nyiro and Lolokwe ran back, leaving Mvita confused and scared on her own. The Keepers had to go and rescue her.

17 February 2002

When leaving the Stockades, we noticed that Icholta was unwell with a tummy ache, repeatedly lying down. Yatta was particularly concerned and remained close by her throughout the day. Because the day was so hot, Yatta, Kinna, Ndara, Mvita, and Maungu spent over an hour in the mud pool and then the orphans went under shade. Ndara sought shade beneath Emily.

18 February 2002

The orphans were joyous this morning. Kinna and Maungu were playing a pushing game together, Kinna pushing Maungu gently in order not to hurt her. Emily encouraged the orphans to join in chasing away some zebra they encountered during the course of the morning. Natumi and all the others acknowledged that Salama was a star in the mudwallow, leaving him in there alone, whilst they indulged in a sand bath.

19 February 2002

Yatta found an old empty tin near the mudbath and introduced the others to an interesting game, kicking the tin with her feet, and throwing it in the air with her trunk. During the mudbath Mweiga got stuck in the mud, but was rescued by Aitong before the Keepers could intervene. Later, Dika appeared to join the orphans and spent two hours with them, before leaving to go on his way. He has been absent for some two months.

20 February 2002

After the mudbath, Ndara proved her soil dusting prowess to the others, watched by Kinna, Yatta and Maungu. She lay down and swivelled round and round in the dust, to be joined by Natumi and Icholta. Meanwhile, Emily, Loisaba and Aitong prevented a herd of impala from coming to drink, blocking each attempt.

21 February 2002

Daphne Sheldrick was at the mudbath today, with some guests, and Dika arrived to say hello! Just before the orphans arrived, with Dika in tow, a wild herd with a small calf came to the mudbath and hung around, obviously waiting for the orphans. Daphne surmised that this must be Naom and her baby which is much coveted by Emily, because when the orphans eventually arrived, Emily paid particular attention to their scent, following the direction taken by the wild herd for some way. The orphans had a marvellous mudbath, but Nasalot and Mulika seemed hesitant, not wanting to go in whilst all the others were there.

22 February 2002

Mulika and Nasalot remained close to the Keepers all day. Mukwaju, who is not too keen on the mud (having been stuck in it when orphaned as a baby) was joined by Laikipia and both indulged themselves sliding down the bank repeatedly. Aitong was busy today, because Icholta and Maungu got stuck in the mud and had to be helped out.

23 February 2002

Nyiro and Tsavo were itching for a fight, but seemed afraid to engage one another, pushing down small bushes instead to show off their strength. Imenti got left behind when the others went for the mudbath, something he did not appreciate. He arrived late and turned over all the water drums to show his displeasure.

24 February 2002

Natumi's and Emily's group were joined by a herd of wild elephants soon after leaving the Stockades. Laikipia enjoyed a game with a wild calf of his size, which lasted about 30 minutes. Mvita seemed reluctant to leave the wild group when the Keepers called the orphans because it was time for the mudbath. Eventually, Emily went to fetch her.

25 February 2002

Yatta yelled for help when Ilingwezi bit her tail and spent the rest of the day close to the Keepers. Later she and her group intermingled with a herd of impalas, feeding peacefully amongst them, although Ndara was not so sure, and had her ears out in alarm throughout this encounter. In the evening Imenti joined a wild herd, leaving the orphans, but returned later to the Stockades to check on them.

26 February 2002

Mukwaju shoved Ndara this morning, and got pushed in turn as a punishment by Kinna. During a dustbath, Emily and Imenti spent a long time with their heads together, dusting themselves. At 2 p.m. Emily joined a wild group, and enjoyed a game with a young boy of her size. This encounter lasted about l hour, before she returned to join her group.

27 February 2002

Yatta, Kinna and Mukwaju initiated a bush bashing game, soon to be joined by Nyiro, Ndara, Maungu and Lolokwe. Natumi, Salama and Laikipia left the others to venture further afield on their own, but returned after 20 minutes. Emily spent the day very close to Mweiga, who is still showing signs of weakness.

28 February 2002

Kinna and Ndara raced all the others when they took fright as a Helicopter went overhead. Maungu came last in the race. Natumi found an old hose pipe in the bush which she threw up in the air, kicking it with her rear legs when it landed. Laikipia and Ilingwezi joined in this game, which they all found very interesting. In the evening, Dika, Lissa and her baby and Uaso were waiting at the Stockades to welcome the others, which they did, very joyously. Emily and Aitong did not want to go into the Stockade, but instead socialised with the visitors, until they left. Imenti seemed less interested.