Keepers' Diaries, February 2003

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- Rest in Peace, Maungu.

01 February 2003

Before leaving the Stockades in the morning, Nyiro separated Mweya from the others and mounted her. Sweet Sally watched closely, but was scared to interfere. However, once they left, Sosian chased Nyiro, and would not let him back into the baby group for sometime. At 7.20 a.m. the orphans met a wild herd. Laikipia joined them first, followed by Emily a little later, both of whom spent the next 4 hours with the wild elephants, meeting up with the other orphans only at the noon mudbath.

02 February 2003

Kinna found herself left behind in the morning, and running and trumpeting ran to catch up with the others, who took fright, thinking something was amiss. Emily ran in front of them, touching them with her trunk to reassure them that all was well so that Kinna could rejoin them. At 9 a.m. Solango was running towards the water tractor, thinking it had his milk, when a Serval Cat appeared and ran in front of him. He began to scream in fear, until the Keepers caught up with him and comforted him.

03 February 2003

During mudbath, Burra occupied the centre, squatting and throwing his trunk in the air. Sosian then sat on his head, and the Keepers had to intervene. During the mudbath, some weavers high in a tree disturbed the peace, so Mukwaju, Icholta, Lolokwe and Aitong charged at the tree, but the weavers, who were high up, took no notice. Aitong then tried to shake the tree in order to dislodge them, but the birds were high up, and would not move. The orphans then took to kicking over the water bins, trumpeting excitedly, even though their efforts were fruitless.

04 February 2003

Mweiga tripped over Thoma's legs and fell onto her knees. All the others rushed to her rescue to lift her back up, but she managed alone. At 6.30 a.m. all the orphans raised their trunks and soon afterwards a wild Bull of about 15 joined them. They all seemed very friendly towards him and he spent the next three hours amongst our group. (Could this have been Olmeg or Taru? The Keepers currently with the orphans would not know these ex orphans, but by the behaviour of Emily and Aitong, we suspect that the visiting bull was known to them. Both Olmeg and Taru would now be 15 years old). In the evening, having noticed worms in the stools, all the orphans were de-wormed.

05 February 2003

After a wonderful mudbath, Sally, Solango, Mweya and Burra started a bin-kicking game, rolling the empty water bins around, and eventually into a bush where Mweiga was resting. She rumbled deeply, and they ran away, very scared! At 2.30 p.m. the orphans happened upon Edo in amongst a wild group of 7 other elephants. He separated himself and came to touch all the orphans with his trunk, "kissing" Aitong in her mouth. Then he returned to his wild friends, and headed off in the direction of the mudbath.

06 February 2003

Nyiro chased Mweya, wanting to mount her, but was blocked and pushed away by Mweiga. Nasalot and Mukwaju had a sharp exchange over a tree root. Natumi came to discipline Nasalot, who dodged, making Natumi run into a tree. She was very angry, and wanted revenge on Nasalot, but Nasalot took shelter with Emily. It was today that we heard that Imenti had gone to Kwakimwele Village in Ukambani, highly scaring the villagers. Imenti was marched back to Ithumba, where Keepers are keeping a close watch on him. It was noticed that he had a wound in the back of his ear, and we suspect that this was made by an arrow.

07 February 2003

At 8.30 a.m. Aitong charged a hyaena that was resting at the base of Mazinga Hill. All the other orphans joined in, cornering the hyaena in amongst them. He ran towards Edie, who was so scared that she fell down trembling, and the hyaena managed to pass. The orphans left the hyaena to come to Edie, and help her up, comforting her by caressing her with their trunks. After a wonderful mudbath, Mweiga allowed Solango to suck her ear, which he greatly enjoyed, closing his eyes in bliss.

08 February 2003

Salama slid down the mudwall at mudbath hour and fell onto Ilingwezi's head. She yelled and Aitong hurried to her rescue, helping her up. Sally and Thoma had a disagreement over who should lead the group back to the Stockades in the evening. In the end Sally gave up when Thoma bit her tail and hauled her back.

09 February 2003

Solango was the first into the mudwallow today, but the others seemed reluctant. He splashed them with water, and then they all got in. It was a very hot day, so the youngsters fed close to the mudwallow, which they visited several times throughout the day.

10 February 2003

Ilingwezi, Natumi, Mulika, Nasalot and Mvita separated themselves from the other orphans and went to feed far away. There they met up with a wild group of five, whom they brought back with them to the mudwallow at noon. After the mudbath, Tsavo left Emily's group and joined Icholta in Yatta's group, trying to mount her. Mweiga, whose legs seem weak, fell down on the way back to the Stockades. The Keepers helped her rise up again.

11 February 2003

At 8.30 a.m. it looked as though it might rain. There was a high wind and a thick cloud of dust, which scared the orphans. They all ran to the Keepers, Sally arriving first and Mweiga last. At noon they were all wallowing happily, when Emily came out of the mudwallow to lift up her trunk in the air. A few minutes later Ndume came out of the bush and approached the orphans. They all greeted him happily and he spent the rest of the day with them, leaving them only when they were near the Stockades in the evening.

12 February 2003

There was a slight shower of rain which created puddles, so the orphans enjoyed rolling in these. Sosian found a particularly good one, and allowed only Mweiga to share it with him, pushing away all the others. At 11.20 a.m. they all got a fright when Edo appeared chasing another bull of his age. A wild group of six were following and Edo mounted one of the wild cows. Aitong, who has been mounted by Edo some months back was seen to be jealous, rumbling and trumpeting, but keeping a safe distance from them.

13 February 2003

At noon, Aitong was behind all the others coming to the mudbath. She arrived in a rush, trumpeting and bashing small trees, which at first scared the others, but when they realised that it was Aitong, they all joined in. The bush was filled with joyous trumpets as though celebrating a birthday! Mweya and Solango had a wonderful game of hide and seek which lasted most of the day. In the evening Mweya welcomed Solango into her Stockade, but when Emily's group arrived, Ndara marched him out and back into where he should be.

14 February 2003

In the morning, Sosian decided to test his strength against Salama. Salama did not engage his full strength, but allowed Sosian to dominate the game. Loisaba intervened and pushed Salama away from the babies.

15 February 2003

Mweya got stuck in the mud of the big waterhole today, and had to be pulled free by Aitong's trunk. All the orphans had a wonderful "swim" with their heads under the water and just their trunks showing. After the mudbath, Nasalot, Kinna, Nyiro, Salama, Icholta and Natumi chased two ostriches who passed near them. They chased them for about 300 metres before coming back to join the other orphans under a tree. Mweya wanted to play the Matriarch in the afternoon, taking her group off to feed away from all the others.

16 February 2003

During a wonderful mudbath, two old buffalo came to drink at the waterhole. Mweya, Sweet Sally, Sosian, Burra, Thoma, Mweiga and Solango joined forces to see them off, but the buffalo would not budge, simply ignoring the orphans. Later they left and went into the bush. Loisaba was jealous of Salama when he approached Emily, who was resting under a tree. She pushed him away.

17 February 2003

Sosian attempted to block Solango from taking his bottle of milk, so he and Mweya combined forces to push Sosian away so that they could enjoy their milk in a peaceful environment. At 2 p.m. Emily, Aitong, Edie and Mulika joined a wild group of 9 elephants. Mulika tested her strength with a wild calf, managing to push the wild calf down. It screamed, and one of the adult wild cows came to chase Mulika off. She fled to the Keepers, trembling. Emily and Aitong spent the rest of the day with the wild group, joining the other orphans back at the Stockades.

18 February 2003

Kinna and Loisaba were in competition for a branch that was high above them. Loisaba was taller and got hold of the branch, but Kinna held onto Loisaba's trunk, hoping for a share. Loisaba got annoyed and pushed Kinna away, who went off to join the other group. During mudbath Burra chased a squirrel round and round the waterhole. The game ended when Burra slipped and fell like an empty sack!

19 February 2003

This morning at 6.30 a.m., Ndara charged a group of 4 waterbucks, joined by Kinna, Yatta, Tsavo, Edie and Ilingwezi. They chased the antelope for about 300 metres, until they saw the mudbath in passing, so they all went in, and had a wonderful time, although it was still early in the morning. At noon Sosian dominated the entire mudbath, and had to be warned by the Keepers, so that the others could also enjoy it.

20 February 2003

At 5 p.m., Sosian, Mweya, Burra, Solango and Thoma were scared when they came across Edo standing in their path to the Stockades. They all rumbled and ran back to the Keepers, who escorted them back to Edo. He greeted them very gently by putting his trunk on their mouths (a special gesture of love) and then escorted them into their Stockade, watching them as they enjoyed their evening milk. Back at Ithumba, Imenti's wound was seen to be not so bad, but the Keepers are still applying medication.

21 February 2003

All the orphans wanted to feed together today. Natumi took Solango to feed next to her, pulling him back with her trunk whenever he wanted to move away.

22 February 2003

Today, Sally got hold of Burra's tail, and pulled him into the mudbath, forcing him to join the others. (Burra is not very fond of cold mud!) They then wallowed happily and extensively. Kinna, Icholta, Ilingwezi and Edie charged a buffalo that was resting under a bush, but the buffalo simply stared at them, refusing to budge. Eventually Emily, Aitong, Salama and Laikipia provided the necessary reinforcement to dislodge the buffalo.

23 February 2003

At 9.10 a.m., Aitong was seen charging a fallen tree which was still green. After a careful examination of the tree by the Keepers, a very big snake of about 3 metres long was seen to be coiled in the branches. We tried to call Aitong away, but she kept on charging the tree, so we took the other orphans away, and then she followed. After a tough disagreement between Sosian and Mweya about who should be leader, the babies separated to feed in two groups, Sosian took Burra and Thoma whilst Mweya took Solango and Sally. The two groups came together again on their way to the mudbath at noon.

24 February 2003

Burra, Sosian, Sally and Mweiga charged a herd of impala, but the impala were not scared, so the orphans went to feed in amongst them peacefully for about l hour.

25 February 2003

In the morning, Aitong raised her trunk, and noticed that there were wild elephants feeding up on Mazinga Hill. She went to join them, returning to the Stockades after two hours, when the Keepers escorted her to join the other orphans. During the mudbath Solango, Thoma, Burra and Sally ganged up to push away Sosian who is notorious for pushing them about. He left and went to sulk under a tree on his own.

26 February 2003

Solango was allowed to suck Aitong's ear. She pulled him close with her trunk. All the orphans fed together the whole day.

27 February 2003

Today, although the orphans started out together, they separated into three groups, one led by Natumi, and another consisting of Nyiro, Icholta Mvita led by Nasalot. Nasalot and Icholta then had a disagreement over who should lead that particular group, but Emily intervened and separated them. Emily's group then remained with the younger set until they all met up with Natumi's group at the mudbath. After the noon mudbath, Burra, Thoma andf Mweiga were chased away by a guinea fowl on eggs, when they entered the bush where it was sitting on its eggs.. They tried to charge it, but the bird threatened attack, so the orphans accepted defeat and went to another bush!