Keepers' Diaries, February 2011

Voi Reintegration Unit

Very encouraging news from the Voi Rehabilitation Centre is that Solango, who returned last month dragging a damaged back leg on which he was unable to put any weight at all, was taken back into his old Enclosure where he has been looked after ever since. Every day he has enjoyed the company of the Keeper Dependent Junior orphans who are based at the Voi Stockades, befriending Siria in particular, and towards the end of the month playing head butting games with Siria and even trying to mount him which entailed putting weight on the injured limb for the first time. He can now move around his enclosure and has put on condition.

01 February 2011

The orphans browsed on the Eastern foot of Mazinga Hill today, making their way slowly to the waterhole by noon. Here they splashed water over their bodies, but resumed browsing almost immediately, impervious even to a herd of impalas who were also feeding nearby. Lesanju and Lempaute led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

02 February 2011

Having taken their morning milk feed, the orphans enjoyed playing around the Stockade compound, lying in a pile of red soil until Wasessa signaled that it was time to head out. At the noon mudbath Taveta and Kenia enjoyed a playful wrestling match. They then all browsed their way back in the evening.

03 February 2011

All except Dida chased one another as they moved out into the field today, Dida preferring to remain quietly with the Keepers. As the main group moved to the waterhole at noon, Sinya found herself left behind, and had to run to catch up, accidentally knocking down Ndii in the process. Ndii bellowed for help, which brought Lesanju at the double who touched her gently with her trunk to comfort her. All enjoyed the mudbath, Siria, Mzima and Shimba competing with each other enthusiastically and energetically.

04 February 2011

At the noon mudbath Wasessa, Tassia, Siria and Mzima were the centre of attention, while Lempaute and Sinya merely splashed mud over their backs. All then enjoyed soil dusting before resting under shade until temperatures cooled and they could browse their way back home again.

05 February 2011

The Youngsters went to join Solango in his Big Enclosure for the first time today. Dida and Taveta were a little reticent about going too close to him, but all the others fraternized freely, giving him trunk touching greetings which Solango acknowledged with rumbles. All then shared his ration of Lucerne and Dairy Cubes before the Juniors headed out to browse on the southern side of Mazinga Hill. They returned to the Stockades for their milk and mudbath at noon, Solango rumbling a greeting to them as they passed by, but this time their attention was fully focused on their milk!

06 February 2011

For the first time this month Emily’s group came to the Stockade to visit Solango, who is comfortably ensconced in their old Enclosure which contains Big Boulders for rubbing against, a water trough to drink from, an awning for shade with supplements and browse brought for him daily. Laikipia and Lolokwe went straight in to greet him after which the entire group enjoyed a hand-out of supplements. They were joined later by Lesanju’s Juniors who also spent time with them before heading out to browse leaving Emily’s group who spent a long time at the Stockades. Absent from Emily’s group were Edie, Ndara, Thoma, Nyiro, Vita, and Sosian.

07 February 2011

Again the Youngsters went to share the supplement feed with Solango in the morning, Mzima and Siria enjoying rolling in Solango’s mud wallow which was just damp and had yet to be filled with water. At the Youngsters noon mudbath they had a wonderful time rolling and skidding in the mud, Mzima mounting onto Kenia which she could have done without!

08 February 2011

Today Siria challenged Solango to a head butting session, which Solango greatly enjoyed, despite his disability. However, he was seen to be able to now exert some pressure on the injured back leg. Later the youngsters left him, heading towards the northern side of Mazinga hill, an area they have avoided for a few days. They reached the waterhole at noon where they took only a brief wallow before resuming browsing during the afternoon.

09 February 2011

Today the orphans climbed half way up the hill. Sinya managed to sneak away to return early to the Stockades for her milk, but the Keepers drove her back again. At the Stockade mudbath Lempaute sat on a rock to scratch her bottom, closely watched by the others.

10 February 2011

The orphans day began with Taveta and Tassia engaging one another in a head butting session which deteriorated into a fight that required Wasessa’s intervention. The two kept following each other to try and settle the score, but upon finding themselves being isolated and left behind, they buried the hatchet and set about feeding. After the mudbath Ndii and Kenia led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

11 February 2011

For the second time this month Emily and her group came to the Stockades in the afternoon. They were thirsty and went straight to the water trough, by-passing Solango in his “Hospital Enclosure” but rumbling to him as they then took a rest beneath a tree. The Keepers did not allow them into Solango’s stockade for fear that they would eat all the Grewia branches that had been brought in for him from outside the Park. Irima was with them, still limping a little, but with no swelling visible on the leg that had previously been a problem.

12 February 2011

The orphaned Kudus, Mkuki and Aruba, approached the Stockades in the morning, but were deterred by the presence of the orphaned ostriches. Mkuki sounded an alarm bark and dashed off into the bush, followed by Aruba. At the mudbath the elephant orphans had a prolonged wallow, because it was a hot day. Siria sat on his buttocks in the mud close to Dida who kept a wary eye on him, not wanting to be mounted. The orphans fed quietly for the remainder of the day.

13 February 2011

The orphans fed on the Southern side of Mazinga hill today, returning to the Stockades for their noon milk and mudbath. Again the old rivalry between Tassia and Taveta erupted, but Wasessa moved in again to restore order. After the mudbath the orphans rested under shade until it was cooler and then browsed their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

14 February 2011

It was a hot day so the orphans took to shade early on before moving to the waterhole at noon. Lempaute and Mzima had a strength testing match which left them trailing the others so they had to run to catch up, trumpeting as they went. This dash turned into a bush-bashing exercise in which all the orphans participated, leaving them exhausted and resting for a while under shade before embarking on the afternoon browsing session.

15 February 2011

Out in the field and after a wonderful mudbath, Kenia separated Ndii and Dida to browse close to her, joined later by Taveta. All then eagerly awaited the Keepers’ orders to head back for their noon milk and mudbath.

16 February 2011

The youngsters spent time with Solango this morning, as usual, and he was very sad to see them go, struggling to try and be able to join them but the Keepers closed the Gate on him because he has to rest his injured limb. A Keeper remained behind with him to comfort him and give him company.

17 February 2011

Very heavy rain fell during the night (over l00 mls), so the orphans emerged in the morning in a jovial mood, to enjoy playing in the puddles and rolling in the mud in an expression of happiness and joy. They wasted no time in heading out to feed, although it will be a few days before green shoots appear.

18 February 2011

The orphans enjoyed a cool dustbath in damp earth on a chilly morning. Siria lay on Lesanju’s stomach as she lay down, jealously watched by Mzima who tried to force his way into the game which proved too much for Lesanju who bellowed for help. The Keepers rushed to her assistance, after which the orphans began heading out to the field to feed.

19 February 2011

Out in the field, Siria and Mzima engaged one another in a wrestling match, in which Shimba and Taveta also took part. At the waterhole Lesanju pushed Lempaute into the pool using her short tusks and once in, Lempaute submerged herself entirely. All then thoroughly enjoyed the waterhole which had filled from the rainstorm and was deep. They spent a long time there before resuming browsing for the rest of the day.

20 February 2011

The orphans moved to Solango’s Stockade having gulped down their milk in the morning. Loud trumpeting greeted the Keepers who rushed to see that all was well, only to find Siria and Solango greeting each other warmly, having become close friends over the month. Lesanju and Sinya then signaled that it was time to move off to browse, green shoots already beginning to sprout. The orphans were anxious to get to the Big Waterhole which was now full of water, and there they had wonderful fun, Shimba going deep into the middle, while Dida, Ndii, Taveta and Tassia stuck to the shallows. They browsed close to the waterhole for the rest of the day before returning in the evening.

21 February 2011

Today, the orphans were anxious to get to the Big Waterhole earlier than usual. All went deep into the middle of the waterhole, Siria almost drowning poor Mzima, who exited the waterhole in a rush once he popped up! Siria followed him, knocking over the water barrels in the process, but Mzima was in no mood to engage him again, and went to join the others.

22 February 2011

The day began with fun and games at the Stockade compound, sliding down the slippery banks, until it was time to move out, this time heading to the Northern side of Mazinga hill. Again, the orphans enjoyed a wonderful mudbath at the Big Waterhole, Siria and Mzima sitting on their buttocks and rubbing them in the mud which attracted Lesanju who tried to do the same, but fell over!

23 February 2011

The orphans gathered in Solango’s enclosure as soon as the Keepers opened up the door. They all crowded around him, touching his leg with their trunks, and rumbling affectionately to him. Amazingly Solango attempted to mount onto his friend, Siria, putting more pressure on the injured limb for the first time. Dida moved out of the Enclosure, (anxious not to find herself being mounted) and instead enjoyed pulling up fresh green grass until it was time for all to leave for the browsing area. Again, a lot of fun was had by all at the big waterhole.

24 February 2011

The day began with the orphans chasing the ostriches far from the Stockades, forgetting about Solango in the process! The ostriches managed to out-maneuver the elephants and run back to the Stockades. It turned into a hot day, so the orphans headed towards the Big Waterhole, where they had a lot of fun, only emerging when the milk arrived.

25 February 2011

As usual the Juniors went to greet Solango in his Enclosure, although Tassia and Taveta were left outside, busy sorting out an old score, only later joined by the others as they headed out. The orphans climbed half way up Mazinga Hill to browse before reaching the Waterhole at noon. There they had the usual fun, sliding, swimming, and mounting onto each other in the pool, Dida and Sinya careful to keep to the shallows avoiding boisterous games. Later they browsed seriously for the rest of the day.

26 February 2011

It was games as usual around the compound, and a visit to Solango before the Youngsters left in the morning again climbing high up the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. Wasessa brought the group down for the noon milk and wallow, sitting himself comfortably in the water. Later they browsed their way back in the evening.

27 February 2011

The orphans had some wonderful games in the morning, in no hurry to head out because there was a lot of greenery to eat at every turn. They browsed the eastern side of the hill today. At the mudbath Siria had his eye on Taveta, hoping that he would come into the deep water long after the others had left the pool. However, Taveta was wise to his intentions, and did not humour him!

28 February 2011

Kenia, Ndii and Dida remained outside Solango’s stockade, quenching their thirst, while the others went in, soon joined by Kenia and Ndii, but Dida decided against going in. Instead the Keepers brought her share of supplements to her outside. Dida does not enjoy exuberant games, and prefers a quiet peaceful time. The orphans browsed happily throughout the rest of the day, had the usual fun at the waterhole at noon, and returned in the evening. Others:- Solango’s injured hind leg has greatly improved. Now he can move around his enclosure with ease. The constant reunion with the Young orphans, as well as meeting up twice with Emily’s group, plus the tender care afforded him by the Keepers have seen a rapid psychological improvement as well as a physical one. He is putting on condition, and whilst he still would not be able to keep pace with the others, we are confident of a full recovery given time. Solango is, indeed, a very lucky elephant to be an orphan, spared certain death as an infant, and healed by the care and attention of his human family as a teenager. Were he living wild, he would not be quite so fortunate, and probably would not have been able to survive having lost the use of a hind leg. Dida does not seem to be growing as she should, and is undersize for her age. Also she does not seem to like the dairy cubes and Copra cake supplements but feeds on the Lucerne happily. She also tends to avoid becoming embroiled in play, perhaps knowing that she is too frail to be able to join in.