Keepers' Diaries, February 2013

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Voi Reintegration Unit

With the dry season taking hold again, finding sufficient browse to fill their bellies has been the priority for the Voi dependent Orphans since their daily browsing takes place around Mazinga Hill and within human walking distance of the Stockades. However, the Big Waterhole continued to provide the usual mudbath venue on most days.

With the dry season taking hold again, finding sufficient browse to fill their bellies has been the priority for the Voi dependent Orphans since their daily browsing takes place around Mazinga Hill and within human walking distance of the Stockades. However, the Big Waterhole continued to provide the usual mudbath venue on most days.

The Ex Orphans led by Emily have been in the vicinity throughout the month, turning up at the Stockades on the 3rd after the Juniors had already left. On the 5th they were sited from afar at the Big Waterhole before heading towards the Voi river but were back at the Stockades on the 13th, when they mingled with the Keeper Dependent group, and drained the Stockade water trough so that the Keepers had to begin refilling it. Impatiently Laikipia couldn’t wait, but positioned himself actually in the drinking trough with his trunk attached to the inlet! Meanwhile, as usual, Lesanju was preoccupied trying to entice her group away from that of Emily, but even so Kivuko and Layoni were tempted to follow but thought better of it and turned back. That day the Ex Orphan herd was accompanied by a wild teenaged bull when the turned up at mudbath but two days later, when they joined the Juniors out in the bush the young bull was absent.

Thoma was first to spot and greet Shimba as he fed apart from the others on the 15th. After the usual greetings, Shimba then led the Ex Orphans to the rest of Lesanju’s Junior, and as they approached, Lesanju desperately to steer her group away. She is possessive of her Junior “family” and is suspicious that the Ex Orphans might entice members of her herd away - a very proficient and caring Matriarch ably assisted by her best friend, Lempaute, and Big Girl Wasessa The most recent addition to Lesanju’s family is little Panda, who has been poorly of lagte, but whose health has improved considerably. However, this month Panda has opted to remain closer to home with her orphaned zebra friend, Lualeni, given a special treat by Lesanju on the 23rd by being escorted into the electrically fenced KWS Headquarter compound through the Spring Gate to enjoy the un-touched browse. This is what the Juniors usually fall back on towards the end of the dry seasons.

The Juniors enjoyed browsing near wild elephant herds on the 16th, rumbling to them, until a running hyaena panicked the elephants who fled bellowing! This alarmed the Keepers as they watched from a vantage point further away and who hurried to round up their terrified charges. The orphans remained extremely nervous for the rest of the day, frequently running back to their Keepers. Only when they were back in their Stockades for the night did they calm down! The next day as the orphans approached the mudbath venue, they passed by the huge buffalo herd whose presence was advertised by the huge dust-cloud they raised. At the waterhole the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans prompting Kenia to exit in a hurry, afraid of being “mounted” by Emily’s Big Boys such as Morani and Lolokwe!

Ex Orphan TSAVO, another of Emily’s Big Boys, and one who had been missing from the group for sometime, was with them again when they turned up at the Stockades on the l8th. It was good to see him again, and know that he is fine. His great friend, Burra, is another who has not been seen for sometime, and who we hope will show himself again. Laikipia again went to stand in the water trough in order to cool his legs, while Edie scratched her body against the big Boulder beside the trough. When the Ex Orphans returned the next day, Irima was a vigilant “Nannie” to Emily’s calf, “Eve” as she played near the water trough. And on the 26th, as the Juniors were heading out to browse, Lempaute and Sinya saw off a tiny Klipspringer who happened to be perched on the rocky hillside.

But the orphans browsed peacefully near some 200 buffalo and about 30 Impalas on the 20th, until Tassia and Lempaute mischievously ganged up to disrupt the peace by running through the impala herd, scattering them leaping in all directions! And on the 19th an unfriendly wild Matrarch who had a small calf warned the orphans off coming too close, as did another unfriendly cow Elephant on the 21st, who had an older baby aged about 6 months, with whom the orphans would have liked to play. The orphans themselves thought twice about approaching a very big wild Matriarch who had exceptionally long tusks the next day!

The only young member of Lesanju’s unit who can take liberties with Wasessa is Emsaya, who has replaced Tassia as the favourite “baby”. All the others, especially Junior boys such as Mzima, Taveta, Tassia, Dabassa, Layoni and Rombo avoid getting on the wrong side of Big Girl Wasessa, especially when she occupies pride of place at the supplementary feeding venue.

February 2013 day to day

01 Feb

After the usual morning milk feed and Stockade games, Lesanju led her unit out to browse, this time selecting the Eastern side of the Park. At mudbath only Rombo wallowed, the others finding the water too cold. Dabassa led the herd back in the evening.

Lesanju in the lead

Rombo in the water at mudbath

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