Keepers' Diaries, February 2013

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.

01 February 2013

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.

02 February 2013

After the Stockade games, the journey out to browse was held up by Kivuko and Dabassa who had an old score to settle, ending when Wasessa and Lempaute intervened. The day turned very hot, so the orphans retreated under shade until mudbath time when Taveta and Mzima were first in the mud, prompting Layoni, Rombo, Kivuko and Emsaya to plunge in while Lesanju, Sinya, Wasessa and Lempaute enjoyed a dustbath instead. Ndii led the orphans back in the evening after the afternoon browsing session.

03 February 2013

Emily’s group turned up at the Stockades, after the Juniors had already left and having taken water headed out in the same direction, but did not meet up with the dependent herd who were browsing half way up the northern side of Mazinga hill. At noon Mzima was in attendance as Layoni downed his noon milk ration, un-nerving Layoni who suspected that his milk could be grabbed. All enjoyed the wallow today.

04 February 2013

Sinya and Lesanju led the Juniors out to browse. The day turned hot, so all save Shimba took to shade feeding on grass beneath the trees. Wasessa, Rombo and Emsaya lagged way behind the others as they made their way to the milk venue. Emsaya was not happy about this and she rushed to make sure that she didn’t miss out on her milk, overseen by Wasessa as she took it. All browsed calmly during the afternoon.

05 February 2013

Ndii and Kivuko led the orphans out today following their supplement handout and after the usual Stockade antics. Their lead was overtaken by Taveta and Shimba. Emily’s group was sited from afar at the Big Waterhole ahead of the Juniors wallowing time after which they were seen heading towards the Voi River.

06 February 2013

Tassia and Taveta engaged one another in a wrestling match before joining the others at the Copra handout. Dabassa and Emsaya then began a Pushing Match which deteriorated into a fight but Wasessa moved in quickly to restore order, after which the orphans headed to the western side of the Park. The noon mudbath was interrupted by two impala males chasing one another, prompting a hurried elephant exit. Dabassa and Layoni competed for leadership when it was time to return in the evening.

07 February 2013

Today Lempaute led the orphans out to browse the Northern side of Mazinga hill after their milk and supplements, gradually making their way to the Big Waterhole for the noon wallow. Ndii, Kivuko and Emsaya dominated wallowing today, splashing water around, while Mzima, Sinya, Shimba and Wasessa enjoyed sliding up and down the banks. After the afternoon browsing, Dabassa took the lead back today.

08 February 2013

After the supplements, Kivuko and Dabassa again engaged one another, Kivuko knocking Dabassa down. His bellow brought Lesanju and Lempaute swiftly to the rescue, Kivuko hurriedly escaping for fear of being punished by the Big Girls. Layoni dominated the mudbath at noon until Taveta became jealous of the attention he was attracting, and pinned him down causing him to scream. This brought wallowing to an end, triggering the afternoon browsing session.

09 February 2013

It was another beautiful morning for the orphans as Taveta and Rombo teamed up to wrestle with Emsaya just before moving to the waterhole. Wasessa was having none of it, and chased the two boys off. All wallowed happily, and later browsed their way back to the stockades in the evening.

10 February 2013

Sinya led the orphans out to the Western side of Mazinga hill immediately after their supplementary handout, conscious that as the dry season begins to bite, food will again become scarce. Shimba climbed up the hill delaying the milk and mudbath until 2 p.m. After wallowing all rested under shade until the temperature dropped, when they slowly browsed their way back to the stockades.

11 February 2013

The friendly resident hornbills provided the musical backdrop as the orphans played their usual Stockade Games, Tassia and Taveta involved in their usual Pushing Match, while Kenia took on Dabassa and Layoni challenged Rombo. The older girls, Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya enjoyed soil dusting alongside little Panda while Wasessa did the same next to her favourite, Emsaya. Today the orphans browsed the eastern side of the hill, where they joined up with a herd of impalas, feeding peacefully amongst them. All enjoyed wallowing in the Big Waterhole after which it was browsing as usual, as they made their way back home.

12 February 2013

Today Sinya engaged Shimba in a brief Pushing Match forcing Shimba to capitulate. Victorious, Sinya swung her trunk triumphantly! Meanwhile Dabassa was busy chasing off the problematical baboons who habitually try to snatch the orphans’ supplements. Today Panda remained behind with her zebra friend today rather than join the Orphans. A strong friendship has evolved between Panda and Lualeni, the Zebra orphan. Panda’s health is improving. The other orphans browsed the northern side of the Park, reaching the waterhole at noon where they had a lot of fun. Rombo led the unit back in the evening.

13 February 2013

Lesanju’s group was joined by the Ex Orphans today and after exchanging greetings, the Ex Orphans rushed to the water trough which they emptied, so the Keepers had to open up the inlet pipe again. Laikipia became impatient and stood inside the trough drinking directly from the inlet after which the Ex Orphans headed towards the Voi River. Kivuko and Layoni attempted to follow them, but Lesanju was already urging her unit in the opposite direction and this persuaded the two youngsters to return. The smaller milk dependent orphans arrived at the Big Waterhole ahead of the others to find Emily’s group already there, amongst whom was a wild teenage boy. Later Emily’s group returned to search for the Juniors, but without the wild recruit, but failed to meet up with them. Instead the Ex Orphans headed towards the Voi River.

14 February 2013

It has become very dry again. A brilliant Matriarch, Lesanju led her unit to a place near Mazinga hill where there was still a small patch of tall grass, and so the orphans fed there for the better part of the day. Kenia led the milk dependent group to the milk and waterhole venue, leaving Shimba at the hill. Instead of joining the others at the Big Waterhole, he decided to take a mudbath and drink at the Stockade compound instead, joining up with Panda. On the way back in the afternoon at first Dabassa did not recognize Shimba coming to a halt thinking it could be a wild visitor, but having ascertained that it was, indeed, Shimba, there followed the usual warm greeting.

15 February 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphan group, minus the friendly wild boy, met up with the Juniors out in the bush today, Thoma was first to spot Shimba, who was feeding apart from the others and having gone over to greet him, all the Ex Orphans went with him to join up with the others. As usual Lesanju was eager to detach her group, but Lempaute went forward to greet the Ex Orphans briefly as they were beginning to move towards the water pipeline, much to Lesanju’s relief!

16 February 2013

The Juniors had a lovely day browsing close to several wild herds, and even though they didn’t actually join them they rumbled to keep in touch. However, when a lone hyaena suddenly appeared and ran past them, the orphans panicked and fled screaming. This alerted the Keepers who were watching from afar and who had difficulty in calming the orphans when they managed to round them all up again. All the elephants remained fearful throughout the rest of the day, constantly running back to their Keepers and keeping close! They only calmed down when they returned to the safety of the Stockades in the evening!

17 February 2013

On the way out to browse, the Orphans encountered a large herd of buffalo raising a huge dust cloud. As soon as the Juniors arrived at the mudbath, Emily’s group joined them, welcomed warmly by Kivuko, but Kenia left the wallow for fear of being mounted by Big Boys such as Morani and Lolokwe. When Emily’s group left heading towards the airfield, Shimba followed them but returned an hour later.

18 February 2013

Emily’s group turned up at the Stockade after the Juniors had already left. With them was Tsavo, the ex Orphan boy who has not been seen amongst them for a long time. Edie enjoyed scratching her body against the rock as Laikipia again stood in the water trough cooling his legs. Later the Ex Orphans headed towards the water pipeline.

19 February 2013

The Juniors met up with a large wild Elephant who had a very small calf, but the cow warned them off coming too close to her baby. Emily’s group again came to the Stockades after the Juniors had departed. Irima as Nannie was paying a lot of attention to little “Eve” (Emily’s baby) as she played near the Stockade water trough. The Ex Orphans later moved off and did not meet up with the Juniors today.

20 February 2013

Today the orphans fed peacefully barely 500 metres from a large herd of about 200 buffaloes as well as some 30 impalas until Tassia and Lempaute mischievously ran in amongst the impalas, scattering them in all directions! Shimba and the others merely watched and did not join in. It was a cloudy day, so the orphans decided against a mudbath.

21 February 2013

The orphans met up with a herd of wild Elephants at the eastern side of the Park led by an unfriendly Matriarch with very long tusks who had a 6 month old baby. With outspread ears she warned the orphans off, so they changed direction and headed instead to the mudbath where they enjoyed a lengthy wallow which lasted until almost 5 p.m. Even then, Shimba was reluctant to leave the waterhole but the Keepers urged him, and the others, to begin the journey back to the Stockades since it was getting late.

22 February 2013

Again the orphans met up with the Big wild Matriarch who had very long tusks reaching almost to the ground, but were too fearful to actually mingle too closely although they fed nearby for almost an hour. Rombo dominated the wallow today, whilst the others were just spectators.

23 February 2013

Wasessa enjoyed scratching her neck against a stockade rock this morning, while Rombo and Dabassa did likewise at another rock, careful to avoid disturbing Wasessa. Meanwhile Lesanju took Panda for some browsing inside the fenceline where the browse is still intact, before returning to the rest of her group. Therafter the day progressed as usual.

24 February 2013

After the Stockade games the orphans headed towards the eastern side of the hill where they browsed peacefully until the noon mudbath where Rombo introduced a new technique to the others – burying his trunk in the mud to blow mud bubbles! Dabassa and Emsaya were interested spectators who came to join him, but chose to lie down in the water. After the afternoon feeding, Ndii led the group back in the evening.

25 February 2013

Games of hide and seek dominated Stockade fun this morning as the baboon were making their way down the hill, but noticing all the action, they decided to detour the Stockades! The orphans browsed the eastern side of the hill, until mudbath time, when Taveta, Emsaya, Layoni and Kivuko put on a good show, Taveta tossing his trunk in the air, shaking his head vigorously. These five were so engrossed that they found themselves left behind the others, and had to run to catch up!

26 February 2013

As the orphans were heading out this morning, they spotted a Klipspringer on the rocks. Lempaute and Sinya chased the antelope off, who went bounding up the hill, leaving them running to catch up with the others. None of the elephants wallowed today at noon, because it was not hot enough.

27 February 2013

At the mudbath Dabassa was in competition with Emsaya to be the best wallower, with Taveta in the middle seemingly acting as the Referee. Taveta extended his trunk to touch them both periodically trying to keep the competitors amicable, since Dabassa and Emsaya have often been at loggerheads this month!

28 February 2013

It was another cool day by the time the orphans arrived at the Big Waterhole, so Ndii decided to play with the water in the drinking barrels before joining the others at the mudbath. The orphans then browsed around the Big Waterhole during the afternoon, gradually making their way back in the late evening.