Keepers' Diaries, February 2017
Voi Reintegration Unit
With the dry season in full swing, Emily’s Ex Orphan herd stayed very much around the stockade compound this month, taking advantage of the omnipresent water in the water troughs and mud baths in the area, ensuring there is always water present for the elephants and other wildlife. Supplements of dairy cubes and lucerne grass are also availed to the dependent orphans and Ex Orphans to see them through this harsh drought that we are experiencing at the moment.
01 February 2017
It was a beautiful beginning to the day as the stockade dependent orphans came out of their respective stockades and downed their morning milk bottle before settling to feed on dairy cubes and Lucerne grass after which they followed Mbirikani and Mashariki to the browsing grounds. Mbirikani and Mashariki led the others up the eastern side of Msinga Hill where they enjoyed feeding on the lush green grass.
Ajali, who is a heavy feeder, was slow to follow the group as he was busy stuffing grass into his mouth. Arruba decided to stay with Ajali and the two browsed together as they slowly followed the rest of the group up Msinga Hill.
Siria was seen leading Emily’s herd that also had a big wild elephant bull that was following Mweya. All the other wild bulls that are usually in Emily’s group were missing as was Laikipia, Lolokwe and Morani. The Ex Orphan group browsed towards their way towards the Mzima spring-Mombasa water pipe line area.
02 February 2017
Another day has dawned with the earliest callers at the stockade being Emily’s herd in company of the huge wild elephant bull that was with them yesterday. They arrived at the stockade compound at 6am, assembling at the stockade water trough for a drink. They remained at the compound for twenty minutes and left before the youngsters came out of their stockades.
Kenia’s dependent herd then came out of their night quarters, drank their milk and enjoyed the supplements before leaving the compound for the browsing fields. Arruba found a very green bush on the way to the browsing grounds and stopped to feast on it. When she noticed that she was all alone she ran to catch up with her friends. Her friend Suswa had fallen to the back of the group, waiting for Arruba to rejoin the herd.
Today Tundani was a bit of a bully and tried to separate Ajali from the rest of the orphan group. The keepers had to intervene, reprimanding Tundani and ensuring that Ajali joined the rest of the orphans.
03 February 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphans coming out of the stockade emptying a morning milk bottle in a rush before settling for some supplement feeding. There were only some brief dusting games before the followed Lentili and Naipoki to the browsing grounds.
The orphans settled to browse in single file at the foot of Msinga Hill for one hour. A big wild bull passed close to the group and Tundani invited the bull to join them by extending his trunk in greeting. The bull joined them for a spell before making his way to the Voi River.
A massive herd of buffaloes visited the orphan elephant water hole at 10am and drank nearly all of the water that they found there leaving very little for the orphans
Tundani engaged Ajali in a strength testing competition and the two had a wonderful head butting encounter.
In the afternoon a wild herd of elephants came for a drink at the waterhole once the orphans had left. As the water had not been topped up yet they did not get that much to drink.
04 February 2017
The stockade dependant orphans came out to face another busy day. They carried out their usual morning stockade routine before leaving for the browsing fields under Rorogoi and Ishaq-B’s leadership. The two leaders were followed closely by Nguvu and the rest of the orphan herd.
After settling to browse at the northern side of the stockade the same wild elephant bull that visited them yesterday came once again and joined them for the browsing session. The wild bull today took a little more time browsing with the orphans today before leaving towards the water pipe line are.
Emily’s herd was later seen from a distance together with the big wild bull that had mated with Mweya.
05 February 2017
A wonderful morning dawned with the stockade dependant orphan elephants downing their morning milk bottle before playing some hide and seek games at the stockade compound. The group was then led to the browsing grounds by Mashariki and Naipoki.
The orphans had a calm moment browsing amid light rain showers and were not in a hurry to move to the water hole as they enjoyed feeding on the moist grass. Milk was given to them on the western side of Msinga Hill with the orphans moving to the middle water hole around 3.20pm for a drink of water.
In the late afternoon Suswa and Embu enjoyed a private browsing session away from the others for about thirty minutes before joining the group who were preparing to head back to the safety of the stockades for the night.
The Ex Orphan kudu Mukuki who went wild was seen grazing at the foot of Msinga Hill in the evening. He has grown big and his horns are also wonderfully big.
06 February 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual stockade feeding and playing routine before heading to the browsing grounds where they were welcomed by the usual wild elephant bull friend that had been frequently visiting Kenia’s herd. This wild elephant bull settled with the stockade dependant orphans to browse half way up Msinga Hill before walking away towards the northern side of Msinga Hill. Soon after he left, Rombo and Dabassa were seen walking at the base of the hill but they didn’t notice the juniors. They went towards the middle water hole to drink water before continuing with their browsing.
Later in the afternoon we had a light sprinkle of rain and Emily’s herd was seen browsing on the lower flat grounds of the hill. Inca was seen of mimic mounting Emma in an effort to show her that he is growing up into a strong young bull.
07 February 2017
It was a fantastic morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing happily around the stockade compound after the milk and supplement feeding had taken place.
They then went out to the browsing grounds amid light rain that lasted for the better half of the day.
Nelion and Mbirikani led the rest of the orphan herd in a browsing session half way up Msinga Hill before coming down to the base of the hill at noon for their afternoon milk bottle.
Kenia browsed bumper to bumper with her adopted baby Araba as Ndii was seen to be very interested in the youngster today. Kenia came in to get her beloved Araba while Ndii murmured in protest about not being given a chance to connect with the little chap.
08 February 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants downing a morning milk bottle before enjoying some dairy cubes and Lucerne grass. As soon as they had finished feeding, Mweya arrived and joined them for a clean drink of water from the stockade water trough.
The other members of Emily’s herd came about ten minutes later but Kenia, Kihari, Ndii and Naipoki rounded up the orphan group leaving the Ex Orphans drinking as they headed out for the day.
On arriving at the browsing grounds, a big male lion was seen on a hunting mission. The lion moved away slowly when he saw the keepers approaching. The direction the orphans were taking was quickly changed to avoid any possible run-ins with the lion.
09 February 2017
It was a perfect beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual feeding routine at the stockade before following Naipoki and Lentili to the browsing grounds.
They had a wonderful browsing moment before they turned around and slowly made their way to the middle water hole where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games.
Emily’s herd came to the stockades for a drink of water. Among their group were Rombo and Wasessa who are members of Lesanju’s herd. Mzima, Kivuko and Tassia arrived five minutes behind them and had a drink before joining Emily’s herd who were heading to the browsing grounds.
Eve had a wonderful moment sharpening her little tusks on a rock close to the water trough as Emma was busy suckling her mother Emily.
10 February 2017
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their respective stockade downing a morning milk bottle and settling for supplement feeding before engaging in some socializing games at the stockade compound.
Kihari and Naipoki led the orphans out for the day and the group settled to browse half way up Msinga Hill. Emily’s herd passed by the orphan group as they headed towards the middle water hole browsing as they went. Upon seeing the Ex Orphans, Ajali came down the hill and joined them for a spell. He was warmly welcomed by Inca who seems to have a soft spot for Ajali. Icholta and a wild elephant bull were patiently waiting for Inca to finish interacting with Ajali before taking him to rejoin the rest of their group who were making their way to the water hole to drink water and have a mudbath.
The orphans came down a while later for their milk and mudbath, arriving at the water hole after Emily’s herd had left.
11 February 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding activities before heading to the browsing grounds.
Mbirikani, Rorogoi and Bada led the group uphill while Ishaq-B tried to lead them to the lower northern grounds of the Msinga Hill for the browsing session.
Suswa, Arruba and Nguvu had a private browsing moment away from the others a few minutes before the afternoon milk feed and mudbath. The orphans arrived at the middle water hole at noon where they enjoyed their afternoon milk bottle and a refreshing drink of water. None of the orphans partook of the mudbath as it was cloudy and cold.
In the afternoon Tundani and Bada engaged each other head on in a wonderful wrestling match that lasted a few minutes before joining the others who were heading back to the safety of the stockades for the night.
12 February 2017
It was a perfect beginning of the day with the orphan elephants enjoying their morning milk bottle and supplements. They had some wonderful hide and seek games before following Lentili and Arruba to the browsing grounds.
Half an hour after they had left Icholta and Inca arrived at the stockade without the other members of the Emily’s herd. They drank water and hung around the stockade compound for half an hour before leaving towards the Mzima-Mombasa water pipe line area where the rest of Emily’s herd was believed to be browsing.
Kenia and Ndii took charge of the leadership roles today with Kenia staying in close contact with her adopted baby Araba throughout the day.
13 February 2017
It was a good beginning of the day with the earliest caller at the stockade being Lolokwe who came and joined the stockade dependant orphan elephants for a drink from the stockade water trough after the milk and the supplement feeding was over. Lolokwe was very happy to be among the juniors who touched him all over with their small trunks treating him as if he was a king.
Panda had a lovely time enjoying a rock scratching game at rock boulder close to the water trough before joining the rest as they headed towards the browsing grounds.
Lolokwe went with them part of the way before splitting from them as he made his way to the air strip.
The orphans browsed their way to the middle water hole arriving at noon. Here they had a lovely time playing in the mudbath. The rest of the day was spent browsing close to the water hole.
14 February 2017
It was a warm beginning to the day as the orphan elephants empted their morning milk bottle before feeding on the supplements laid out for them after which they engaged in socializing games around the stockade compound.
Arruba and Suswa took charge today leading the others to the browsing grounds where they settled to browse in single file before heading to the middle water pool in groups of five for their afternoon milk bottle and mudbath. Today they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games, with Mashariki, Mudanda, Embu and Mbirikani engaging one another in a tough bathing competition.
The orphans spent longer than normal at the mud hole before they headed back out to browse for the remainder of the day. Kenia enjoyed a scratching game against a tree trunk where she was joined first by Mashariki and then by Naipoki.
15 February 2017
It was a nice beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphans running out of their stockade when the gates were flung open in the morning then emptying a morning milk bottle in a rush.
They briefly enjoyed some wonderful dusting games at the stockade before following Bada to the browsing grounds. Bada’s mission for the day was to lead the rest in a browsing session on Msinga Hill but was met with some resistance from Naipoki and Kihari, who by-passed him, leading the rest to the northern side of the hill. Here Suswa and Rorogoi separated themselves from the others while Rorogoi extended her trunk to grab some nice green grass right from Suswa’s mouth.
The orphans visited the middle water hole where they had a brief bath before browsing their way to the big water hole after which they made their way to the stockades arriving there at dusk.
16 February 2017
It was a wonderful morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their stockades full of energy. They downed a morning milk bottle before feasting on dairy cubes. Soon after they finished they had a wonderful dusting and scratching session against some rocks.
Sweet Sally, Safi and Mweya arrived without the other members of Emily’s herd and drank water from the stockade water trough. Arruba engaged Safi in a pushing game. Kenia and Ndii were jealous of their interaction and took off towards the browsing grounds, leaving the three Ex Orphans at the stockade compound. Sweet Sally, Safi and Mweya left twenty minutes later.
Out in the field, six herds of wild elephants came to drink from the orphan’s middle water hole, emptying nearly all the water and leaving behind nothing but mud.
The stockade dependant orphans enjoyed interacting with Seraa and a wild elephant bull that had come to the mudbath after the junior’s. The two took a quick bath and left heading towards the Voi river circuit.
17 February 2017
The morning began well with the stockade dependant orphans enjoying their milk bottle and proceeding with their usual supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. They browsed in single file on the western and northern lower grounds of Msinga Hill, before proceeding to the middle water hole for an afternoon milk bottle and fun in the mudbath.
Suswa, Arruba, Embu and Ndoria separated from the rest of the group and formed their own little herd for part of the afternoons browsing session rejoining the rest of the group two hours later.
At 3.30pm, Ajali detached himself from the orphan herd and joined a big wild herd of elephants. One female wild elephant had very long but thin tusks which touched the ground. At first Ajali was cautious about joining them, but was warmly welcomed by a teenage wild elephant bull that was close to him in age. The two browsed together for the rest of the day and Ajali was not in any hurry to leave the wild herd when it was time to head back to the stockades. Nelion and the keepers joined forces and managed to get Ajali back from the wild herd; it was too soon for him to leave as they might leave him behind and then he would be on his own again.
18 February 2017
This morning the orphans engaged one another in some hide and seek games at the stockade compound before making their way to the browsing grounds. Their journey to the field was accelerated by the arrival of a wild bull who is friends with Siria; he came alone to drink at the stockade. Kenia, Ndii and Naipoki thought that Emily’s herd may be following him and were quick to head out. The bull was surprised at the orphan’s abrupt move but continued to quench his thirst before leaving for the browsing grounds. The wild bull didn’t link up with the orphans out in the browsing fields.
19 February 2017
It was a calm morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual feeding routine at the stockade compound before following Kihari and Lentili to the browsing grounds. Here they settled in a single file browsing peacefully with Kenia keeping an eye on her adopted baby Araba’s movements.
The orphans visited the water hole at noon. They had a brief bath before resuming with their browsing activities.
Ndoria enjoyed leading the orphan herd back to the stockades in the evening. Soon after they finished their evening milk bottle a few members of Emily’s herd paid them a visit together with Lesanju’s herd. Thoma, Thor, Ndara and Seraa were present today, with Lesanju eying Thor, wanting to steal him, but was not given a chance to do so as Ndara was keeping a close watch on the little tike. Tassia and Taveta had a wonderful time enjoying a strength testing pushing game before following the others who were headed back to the park.
20 February 2017
It was a bright and warm morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants leaving the stockade early enough to catch up with the first light of the day. The group was led to the browsing fields by Ishaq-B and Suswa.
The orphans arrived at the middle water hole in the afternoon and after their milk bottle enjoyed numerous mud bathing games.
Thoma, Thor and Lolokwe visited the stockades in the afternoon to quench their thirst at the stockade water trough. The three were closely followed by Lesanju and Wasessa who also came for a drink. Lesanju was seen to have a soft spot for Thor and seemed to be more comfortable with this small Ex Orphan herd than she is among Emily’s large Ex Orphan group. They all left the stockade together twenty minutes later.
21 February 2017
It was a nice morning with the dependant orphans playing happily at the stockade compound after the mornings feeding activities were over. Tundani, Bada and Nelion took the lead today with their destination being half way up the western side of Msinga Hill.
There were some light rain showers in the morning and the orphans drank their noon mil bottle at the base of Msinga hill before they returned to the mornings browsing spot for the afternoon.
A short while late Mzima and a wild elephant bull were browsing their way past along the base of the hill. When Kenia noticed them she came down the hill to greet them. By the time she got to their location they had already moved on. The two were seen browsing together for the whole of the afternoon and were later seen heading towards the far northern side of Msinga Hill.
22 February 2017
The morning was good with the orphan elephants heading to the browsing grounds after their morning milk and supplement feeding.
In the early afternoon a report was received by the Kaluku field HQ regarding an orphan elephant calf at the salt lick wildlife sanctuary. This orphan male elephant calf was approximately two weeks old and had fallen into the lodge septic tank and become trapped. The camp staff had heard the baby’s cries at around nine o’clock in the morning. No one knew when exactly the calf had fallen into the septic tank. A rescue team was organized and the calf was rescued at 1:30pm. It was desperate for company and was following the keepers and their vehicle. The orphan elephant was later air lifted to the Nairobi nursery.
23 February 2017
It was a wonderful beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their morning milk bottle and proceeding for the supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds.
Today they settled on the lower flat grounds with Arruba and Suswa taking a brief private browsing session before rejoining their friends in preparation for the walk to the middle water hole.
In the afternoon the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit brought a small orphan baby buffalo to the stockades. The orphan had some diarrhea and was treated for this before being placed in a holding stable. Jamuhuri and Ngulia felt happy interacting with the new baby from the opposite side of the fence barrier. Jamuhuri felt a special attachment to the orphan as they were both buffaloes. She remained with the baby forcing the keepers to bring her Lucerne grass to where she was. Unfortunately the orphan baby buffalo died later that night.
24 February 2017
It was another perfect beginning of the day with the orphan elephants heading to the browsing grounds after all the feeding and playing activity at the stockade compound was over.
Mashariki and Nguvu who were so focused on their browsing activities found themselves left behind by the others and came running and charging to join them. Ajali and Rorogoi, who were at the back of the orphan herd, stopped and turned to welcome them back into the group.
Later on in the day, Panda, Ndii, and Embu were busy scratching against a tree trunk at the same time, with their buttocks finding themselves rubbing against one another.
The orphan’s middle water hole was excavated today, with the orphans enjoying playing on the soil piles dumped on the banks of the water hole. Lentili took huge chunks of soil to dust herself with. Bada lay down in the soil to play. Mudanda fell in love with his games and was quick to join him. Naipoki went sliding from the top of the soil piles falling like a sack full of sand into the water; something which was seen as great fun by the rest of the group.
25 February 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants happily downing a morning milk bottle, feeding on supplements and then heading to the far northern side of the stockade to browse.
One hour after their departure from the stockade, Taveta came down from Msinga Hill and enjoyed a thirst quenching drink from the stockade water trough. Twenty minutes after his arrival, Emily, Eve, Emma, Mweya, Wasessa, Edie, Eden and a wild elephant bull arrived to join him. They had a wonderful relaxing moment with Emily anchoring her head on a big rock boulder.
In the evening, when the stockade dependant orphans were arriving at the stockade, Thoma and Thor who were with Lesanju’s herd came down to drink water from the stockade water trough with Bada, Arruba, Suswa, Panda and Rorogoi coming forward to greet little Thor. Mbirikani felt tickled when she was touched by Thor’s little trunk. Thoma and Thor then went back to join the rest of the Ex Orphans who were browsing on Msinga Hill.
26 February 2017
The morning was perfect with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement foods before heading to the browsing grounds. Ishaq-B took charge of leading the group to the browsing grounds. Kenia kept close browsing ties with her adopted baby Araba.
Later in the day Naipoki attempted to lead the rest of the orphan elephants up Msinga Hill but was met with some resistance by the rest who were happy to browse at the bottom of the hill and chose to remain where they were.
Three hours later Laikipia came walking alone past the stockade dependant orphan elephants as he made his way towards the water pipe line area. Ndoria and Bada became ambitious and tried to follow him but were not able to catch up with him in order to do so and as such they returned to their group. A short while later Rombo came past following Laikipia. He did not interact with the juniors as he was focused on catching up with his older friend.
27 February 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants leaving the stockade to catch up with the first light of the day in the browsing grounds. The orphan elephants browsed in single file, visiting the middle water hole at noon, where they had a lot of fun in mud bathing games.
Ishaq-B and Bada took each other head-on in a soil bathing competition on the soil piles at the edge of the water hole. Rorogoi later charged into the water kicking the water back and forth declaring herself the winner and best performer of the day.
Later in the evening when the juniors were in the stockade, Taveta and Tassia came to visit. They drank water from the water trough in the company of a big wild elephant bull. The juniors greeted them with deep rumbles. They all left about half an hour later to return to the park.
28 February 2017
The morning was good as usual with the stockade dependant orphan elephants emptying a morning milk bottle then settling for supplement feeding before engaging in some wonderful socializing games at the stockade compound. They later took off to the browsing grounds under the leadership of Kihari and Naipoki.
Kenia soon separated her loved and adopted baby Araba from the rest of the herd as she noticed that Ndii had a vested interest in snatching Araba away from Kenia. The orphans later visited the middle water hole at noon and enjoyed a mud bath and soil dusting games. Ajali and Nguvu who normally do not go into the water today participated in bathing games.
An orphan female baby buffalo around one week old, was rescued in the morning. The orphan had gotten stuck in the mud and had been left behind by its herd. It was brought to the stockades where Jamuhuri greeted it warmly. The tiny orphan baby buffalo went to try and suckle from Jamuhuri who was happy to oblige.