Keepers' Diaries, February 2018
Voi Reintegration Unit
We were gifted with wonderful news early this month on the 9th of March when Ex Orphan Seraa came down the hill to the favourite midday mud bath site of the dependent orphans with a tiny little calf at her feet. The Keepers were overjoyed to meet their baby elephant grandchild number 29, a little baby bull. As the Voi keepers prepared the midday milk feed for the dependant orphans, they spotted this little dot trundling down the slopes toward them, Seraa by his side and the pair of them accompanied by the very attentive nannies, Ex Orphans Lesanju, Lempaute, Layoni, Dabassa, Sinya, Wasessa, and Ndara with her own wild born little boy Neptune.
01 February 2018
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with the orphan elephants downing their morning milk bottle and settling to feed on copra cake blended with range cubes. There were some brief scratching games against the rock boulders before heading to the browsing fields.
Mbirikani, Nguvu, Ajali and Nelion soon assumed leadership and took the others all the way to the peak of Msinga Hill for the morning browsing session. Here they enjoyed feeding on lovely vegetation before making their descent a few minutes before 11am for the milk feed and mud bath.
Ajali, Nguvu and Mbirikani decided to remain browsing as the others went downhill.
Arruba, Suswa, Ndoria, Rorogoi and Tahri came in the first milk feeding herd with Tahri being given an extra bottle of milk. Ndoria was jealous that Tahri got extra milk and started wanted to engage her in a fight. Tahri saw Ndoria coming and ran towards the keepers with Ndoria following. The keepers intervened and rescued Tahri who hid behind Ndii making sure to avoid any contact with Ndoria for the rest of the day.
02 February 2018
It was a bright morning with the sun rising high predicting a warm day as the orphan elephants concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding in the morning. Nelion and Mbirikani made their way towards the browsing grounds as soon as the milk feeding was done and found themselves on their own as the rest of the orphan herd decided to settle for some brief games at the stockade compound before joining them at the southern foot of Msinga Hill.
Lentili and Rorogoi then took over the leadership role taking the orphan herd to the northern side of Msinga Hill. The group then visited the baobab water hole in groups of four for the milk feed before proceeding to the main water hole, to drink water from the trough and take a bath. After all the mud bathing and soil dusting activities were over, Kihari remained in the water rolling and trumpeting which drew Mudanda’s attention and she came to join Kihari. Ndii then came in and spoilt the fun that Kihari was having by sitting on her stomach. Soon after the mud bath the orphans returned to the browsing field for the afternoon feeding session.
03 February 2018
It was a nice beginning to the day, as the orphan elephants enjoyed their morning milk bottle before settling for their routine supplement feeding. Ngulia, Kore and Tawi ran down from their stables in a game of chasing one another and the elephants orphans scattered in fright, as they didn’t realize that Ngulia, Kore and Tawi were playing and thought that they were being chased by something. When they realized that it was a game they felt a little embarrassed and decided to make their way to the browsing fields where they settled to feed.
The orphan elephants spent the morning browsing on the northern side of the stockade visiting the baobab tree water hole in the afternoon, where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games.
Nelion enjoyed a scratching session on a fallen tree trunk. Arruba went and sat on the tree trunk and watched Nelion for some time, entranced by his scratching game.
04 February 2018
This morning the stockade dependant orphans teamed up in groups of friends and played games around the stockade compound before heading out to browse. It is quickly becoming quite dry and the orphan’s moved slowly making sure to get as much vegetation as they could until it was time for the noon milk feed and mud bath.
Today Panda introduced a dust bathing game while out in the fields and tried to entice the others to join her, but they were reluctant to do so as they were fixated on their browsing activities. The orphan herd visited the baobab mud bath in the afternoon in groups of five, downing their milk bottle before having a drink of water after which they enjoyed.
Laikipia came to join the juniors at the mud bath and they came running out of the water upon seeing him approaching as at first they did not know it was him. When they realized it was their Ex Orphan friend they came to greet him with Ndii and Ishaq-B getting particularly close. Later the dependent orphans returned to the browsing fields while Laikipia made his way to the Mzima Spring-Mombasa water pipe line area.
05 February 2018
Today began in the same was as every other with the orphan elephants concentrating on the milk and supplement feeding in the morning. Naipoki, Kihari and Mashariki stood in a queue for a wonderful scratching session against a rock out-crop in the stockade compound, before joining the others who were leaving for the browsing grounds.
The orphan elephants browsed in single file for more than two hours. Tundani and Embu later separated themselves from the main herd for a private browsing session on the western side of the stockade. The two linked up with their friends on the way to the water hole at midday.
The weather warm and the orphans enjoying swimming in the main water hole after the noon milk feed. The rest of the days browsing activities took place on the northern base of Msinga Hill with Rorogoi and Arruba enjoying leading the group back to the safety of the stockades for the night.
06 February 2018
It was a wonderful morning, with the orphans exiting their stockades and running for their milk bottles, after which they enjoyed feeding on copra cake and range cubes. Ngulia, Kore and Tawi came out of their stables and went to greet Oltukai, the orphan baby buffalo. The keepers opened his stockade door and Oltukai came running out happily and joined his three friends who are still a little wary of him, as he was quite aggressive towards them when he first arrived following his rescue. Ol-tukai engaged them in a chasing game which became a bit heated and needed intervention form the keepers to ensure that no one got hurt.
07 February 2018
This morning the stockade dependant orphans came running out of their stockades and grabbed their milk bottles, emptying them in a matter of seconds. They then enjoyed the supplements that had been put out for them after which they engaged in socializing games around the stockade compound.
Bada sharpened his tusks on a rock boulder and after that he engaged Tundani head on in a pushing match. The game became very engaging making it difficult to predict the outcome. Tahri came in and brought an end to their contest when she went up to Tundani and touched him with her trunk. The two older orphans were so touched by her tenderness and care that they stopped their fighting.
The rest of the days browsing activities were peaceful with the orphan elephants visiting the baobab water hole in the afternoon, to drink milk, water and enjoy a mud bath.
08 February 2018
It was a nice beginning to the day with the orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplement feeding in the morning. They then enjoyed a chasing game around the stockade compound after which they had a drink from the stockade water trough before heading to the browsing grounds
Bada has developed a soft spot for Tahri and went to greet the young orphan. Ishaq-B was not sure of Bada’s intention towards the youngster and blocked him from having access to her. Bada then lifted his trunk to salute Tahri but kept his distance so as to avoid any problems with Ishaq-B.
09 February 2018
The stockade dependant orphan elephants once again concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding before proceeding towards the browsing grounds for the beginning of a busy long day feeding.
In the afternoon a few members of the Ex Orphan herd were browsing in the bushes on the northern side of Msinga Hill. Upon monitoring them carefully the keepers noticed that Seraa, who was pregnant, had given birth to a beautiful male calf that we have named Solar. The Ex Orphans that were with Seraa and her baby were Wasessa, the maid of the new arrival, who was following and guarding him closely, Ndara, Neptune, Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute, Tassia, Dabassa and Layoni. The herd came to drink water from the baobab water trough, with Solar actively jumping into the trough and lying down for a wonderful bath. Solar was able to get out of the trough without any assistance and joined Seraa for a mud bath in the main water hole.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants arrived and though happy to join the Ex Orphans, they were blocked from accessing Solar by Wasessa, Lempaute and Sinya. The Ex Orphans then headed further into the Park leaving the juniors to enjoy their mud bathing games.
10 February 2018
The orphan elephants came out of their stockades in happy mood, emptying a morning milk bottle and settling for supplement foods before engaging in some brief games around the stockade compound.
The orphans had a wonderful morning browsing half way up the eastern side of Msinga Hill, with Arruba sticking close to her long time friend Suswa as the two enjoyed browsing in one another’s company. Ndii headed further uphill to explore and spend some time browsing alone and did not notice the other orphans heading towards the baobab water hole for an afternoon milk bottle and mud bath. Ndii came running down, charging up to the group who were already at the waterhole. She plunged into the water kicking at it with her fore foot, splashing muddy water all over her friends. She then moved to the edge of the mud bath plowing the soil with her tusk. Rorogoi and Araba went close to Ndii before they all joined the rest of the herd who spent the afternoon browsing close to the water hole.
11 February 2018
After a great night the orphans exited their stockade for their morning milk bottle and supplement feeding. They then enjoyed some fun and games around the stockade compound before being led to the browsing fields by Lentili and Rorogoi.
The orphans started browsing with great zeal and zest, for a four good hours, taking a break from browsing to seek refuge from the scorching sun under some trees. The elephants then headed towards the water hole in groups of five, downing an afternoon milk bottle and assembling around the baobab tree water trough to drink clean water. The mood to play mud bathing games today was at its peak with Kihari and Panda engaging one another in a stiff bathing competition. Mashariki and Nguvu went to referee and cheer them on while Kihari enjoyed submerging herself in the water. The afternoons browsing activities took place close to the water hole.
12 February 2018
It was a calm beginning to the day with the orphan elephants lining up behind one another as they made their way to the browsing grounds. Today it was Ndii who decided the orphans browsing route and she led the group to the top of Msinga Hill. She skillfully maneuvered around the rocks browsing her way to the peak of the Hill. Kenia tried several rocky routes to reach Ndii but did not have much success and thus remained further down with the rest of the orphan herd. As it was a cool day the group remained browsing until 3pm at which time they came down for a late milk bottle before having a drink of water and a mud bath.
13 February 2018
It was a cloudy morning as the orphan elephants milled around the stockade for a breakfast milk bottle and supplement feeding before enjoying some games around the stockade compound. They left for the browsing fields under the leadership of Suswa, Arruba, and Naipoki. The orphans spent the morning browsing on the western side of the stockade before slowly making their way to the baobab tree water hole.
After a wonderful mud bathing session, the orphans were joined by a wild elephant bull that was given a warm welcome by the orphan herd who trumpeted greetings at him while stretching their trunks towards him. Panda was particularly friendly and was the first to go up to him and greet him. Tahri stretched her trunk to greet him from a distance as she didn’t want to get to close. The wild bull browsed briefly with the orphan elephants before leaving for the Mzima spring-Mombasa water pipe line area.
14 February 2018
It was a cloudy morning as the orphan elephants concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding. They later marched to the browsing grounds where they settled to feed in single file. Ajali attempted to separate his closest friends Nguvu, Mudanda and Suswa from the others for a private browsing session but was met with considerable resistance from them as they wanted to browse with the rest of the herd.
The orphans visited the baobab water hole in the afternoon where Kenia avoided a bathing competition that involved Mbirikani, Panda and Ndii. When Kenia saw Ndii engaging Araba for some company she became a little jealous and came up to the two, standing right behind them. It was not long before Araba abandoned Ndii for Kenia. Ndoria owned the soil dusting pile today, lying on it while the other orphans watched from a distance, keeping away as they did not want to get their tails bitten, something that Ndoria has a reputation of doing.
15 February 2018
It was a wonderful beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing some amazing dusting games at the stockade compound after their milk and supplement feeding.
Ngulia, Kore and Tawi escorted the orphan elephants for a few meters when they headed to the field, before returning to the stockade compound.
The orphans settled to browse around Msinga Hill at which point the keepers noticed Ajali was missing from the orphan elephant herd. Upon looking for him they found him hiding behind a rock at the foot of Msinga Hill browsing on some green vegetation that he had found. The keepers allowed him to browse for a few more minutes before following him as he rejoined the rest of the group, where he promptly took Embu, Rorogoi and Suswa aside for a private browsing session.
The four came for their afternoon milk bottle ten minutes after their friends had taken theirs, and after they joined them at the baobab tree water hole for a mud bath.
16 February 2018
It was a nice morning with the orphan elephants following their daily pattern of milk and supplement feeding before proceeding towards the browsing grounds for the beginning of the days browsing activities.
The orphans settled on the northern side of the stockade before making their way to the baobab water hole at noon where they had their milk bottle and a quick wallow followed by a dust bath. Araba fell in love with Mbirikani’s dusting games today, abandoning Kenia to join Mbirikani for a fun-filled dust bath. Ndii came and lay down beside the two, stretching her trunk towards Araba in an effort to woo Araba to come and join her. Ishaq-B tried to do the same but Araba was devoted to Mbirikani and ignored all their advances joining Ishaq-B only after she was done playing with Mbirikani. Rorogoi, Bada and Embu took turns scratching against a tree stump after the noon mud bath.
17 February 2018
The morning began with the orphan elephants happily downing their milk bottle before settling for the supplement foods after which they left the stockade to begin the days browsing activities. Mbirikani seems to have developed a love for Araba, wanting to take her for a private browsing session but was met with resistance from Ishaq-B, Naipoki and Ndii who did all they could to prevent Mbirikani from interacting with Araba.
Ajali once again separated himself from the group to browse on his own. Nguvu decided not to join his friend as he knew that it would soon be time for the midday milk fed. After the orphans had finished their bottles Ndii jumped into the baobab tree water trough for a wallow instead of wallowing in the main water hole. When she realized that none of the others were interested in what she was doing she joined them at the mud bath. Kenia and Mbirikani enjoyed a scratching session together as they shared a tree trunk after which they joined Embu, Rorogoi, Suswa and Kihari who were leading the group back to the browsing fields for the afternoon browsing session.
18 February 2018
It was a perfect beginning to the day with the orphan elephants engaging in some wonderful rock scratches and soil dusting games after their milk and supplement feeding. It was a big day for Arruba and Suswa today as they took charge of the group leading them half way up the western side of Msinga Hill where they settled for the morning browsing session.
The orphans came down at noon and proceeded in groups of five to the milk feeding area. Panda considered herself to be very lucky as she arrived with Tahri and thus managed to be one of the first to receive milk. She then went for a drink of water from the baobab tree water trough where she enjoyed some one on one time with Tahri until Ndii arrived. Ndii quickly downed her bottles and then ran to the water hole to catch up with her adopted baby Tahri who wasted no time in joining her adopted mother.
The weather had changed during the course of the morning and there were now thick dark clouds covering up the sun. Embu was the only one to enter the mud bath where she was watched over by Mashariki and Panda. The orphans moved away from the water hole to the northern foot of Msinga Hill for the afternoon feeding session.
19 February 2018
It was a bright and sunny morning as the orphan elephants took their morning milk bottle before settling to enjoy the supplements that had been put out for them.
The orphans left for the days browsing activities under the leadership of Bada who led them along the eastern narrow path at the base of Msinga Hill. Tundani and Suswa were a little lazy today, and did not want to move up hill with the others, choosing instead to browse at the foot of the hill.
At midday, the orphans had their afternoon milk bottle and hurriedly rushed to the baobab water hole for a bath as it was sunny and warm. Mbirikani took a quick bath, but was feeling very hot and sought refuge from the scorching sun under an acacia tree. Ndii enjoyed an amazing time in the mud with both Tahri and Araba. The rest of the days browsing activities took place close to the waterhole with the orphans occasionally taking shelter from the sun.
20 February 2018
The morning was wonderful with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing around the stockade compound, following the milk and supplement feeding, before heading to the browsing grounds.
Ajali explored the Mzima-Mombasa water pipeline side taking Ndoria with him. Nguvu has slowly been detaching himself from Ajali who seems ready to go wild while Nguvu is still milk and keeper dependent. Ajali and Ndoria were called to join the rest of the group as they made their way to the water hole for the afternoon milk feed. Ajali, who no longer takes milk, didn’t follow them but Ndoria came running up not wanting to miss out on her share. The orphans had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games, with lots of charging and trumpeting taking place which attracted Ajali’s attention and he came and joined them at the water hole.
21 February 2018
It was a lovely morning as the orphans spread out in the browsing field to feed. Ndii was spotted browsing with both Tahri and Araba with Kenia following them closely. Their interaction extended after the noon mud bath where Ndii lay on the red earth piles giving Araba and Tahri the opportunity to sit and rub their bottoms against her stomach. Kenia enjoyed a scratching game against the baobab tree where she was soon joined by Ndii.
Soon after the orphans left the water hole for the afternoon browsing session a wild elephant herd of two big cows, two teenagers, a ten year old, and a two month old calf arrived to drink water and have a wallow. Ajali wanted to join them and tried to get Ndoria to join him. He ended up on his own in the middle of the wild herd but soon made the decision to rejoin the orphan herd who were moving further away as they headed to the browsing fields.
22 February 2018
were out of their stockades. They had a wonderful time playing around the stockade compound before following Rorogoi and Lentili to the browsing fields where they fed in single file until it was time to visit the baobab tree water hole.
At the mud bath they encountered the same wild herd that had visited the waterhole yesterday after the orphans had left. The teenage bull in the wild herd was very interested in the orphans and wanted to engage them in mud bathing games. He engaged Panda in a head butting and test strengthening game. The two were soon joined by Tundani who came in to assist Panda to see if together they could beat him. A teenage sister of the herd’s two month old calf was very attached to the baby and did her best to prevent the orphans from interacting with the baby. Tahri somehow managed to entice the baby to the orphan group who surrounded it as they all wanted to touch and greet the tiny individual. The calf’s mother became a little worried and pulled the baby away after which the wild herd left leaving the orphans alone at the water hole.
23 February 2018
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their stockades in a happy mood as they downed their morning milk bottle and then played briefly around the stockade compound before leaving for the browsing grounds.
The weather progressively changed during the course of the day with thick cloud cover blocking the sun providing perfect browsing conditions for the orphans. It was however quite cold by the time the orphan herd visited the waterhole at noon with none of the orphans entering the wallow.
Panda went to watch over Tahri who was lying by the wallow catching some of the breeze that was blowing. Ishaq-B stood close to them before taking Tahri for a soil dusting game. Kenia and Araba soon joined them at the red earth piles after which the entire group left to return to the browsing fields for the afternoons browsing session.
24 February 2018
The day started with the usual milk and supplement feeding before the orphans engaged in brief games at the stockade compound. Ndii went up to Tahri and placed her trunk softly over her back and the two stood there for a while with their eyes closed completely relaxed and at peace with the world. Panda came and watched them before heading towards the rock by the stockade waterhole.
The orphans lined up behind Arruba, Suswa and Lentili who led them to the browsing grounds. Today Ngulia, Kore and Tawi went into the orphan buffalo Oltukai’s stable and engaged him a wonderful chasing game which they all enjoyed, especially Oltukai who couldn’t have been happier to be allowed to join their little orphan band of misfits.
25 February 2018
The day began with Layoni and Dabassa coming and visiting the stockade, after a three week absence following their joining up with Emily and Lesanju’s herds. The two drank water and enjoyed lucerne grass, range cubes and the copra cake, before leaving for the field. Sadly the two Ex Orphans did not join up with the stockade dependent herd.
In the afternoon, the orphan elephants made their way to the baobab tree water hole for their milk and a mud bath. Arruba grabbed her second milk bottle pulling it out of the keeper’s hands and downing the milk as she ran away worried that Bada, Lentili, Tundani, Mudanda and Nelion who were coming for their share may try and steal her bottle. When she was satisfied that she had finished every last drop she discarded the bottle leaving it for the keepers to collect and return to the crate.
26 February 2018
The orphans welcomed the day with games of hide and seek around the stockade compound before leaving for the browsing field. Later in the day Ndoria separated from the rest of the orphan herd, pushing for Ajali to join her but was not successful.
The sky cleared up and it became quite hot forcing the orphans to seek shelter under an acacia tree. They then made their way to the baobab water hole in groups of five for their milk bottle and a wallow. Kihari had a private bathing moment in a shallow and muddy small water hole next to the big one while Ndii played with Tahri who sat on her stomach rubbing her bottom from side to side. The afternoons browsing activities took place close to the water hole.
27 February 2018
The morning was good with the orphan elephants enjoying playing some hide and seek games, coupled with scratching games against the rocky outcrops in the stockade compound.
Mbirikani and Nelion took the lead of the orphan elephants leading them half way up the eastern side of Msinga Hill. Suswa, Arruba Kihari and Naipoki were left browsing at the foot of the Hill, as they wanted to be the first to arrive for the afternoon milk bottle; they emptied their first bottle in record time before proceeding to the main water hole to have a drink and a wallow. While bathing they were joined by a group of about 10 buffalos. Kihari and Naipoki came out of the water charging at the buffalos driving them away and preventing them from drinking any water. The buffalos waited patiently for the orphans to finish wallowing and once the orphan herd had left for the browsing fields they approached the water hole where they could drink and mud bath in peace.
28 February 2018
The day began as usual with the orphans observing the daily protocols of milk and supplement feeding followed by heading to the browsing fields for the beginning of the day’s browsing session. The orphans browsed in single file on the northern side of the stockade visiting the baobab tree water hole after their noon milk feed.
While there a herd of twelve zebra came for a drink from the baobab water hole, but were prevented from doing so by Embu and Tundani. The herd of zebra stood at a distance watching the orphan elephants enjoying their bath. When they saw that the orphans would be there a while they came to drink from the trough which was being filled with water from a water bowser.
Naipoki was enjoying a scratching session against a tree stump and was joined by Tundani who waited patiently for Naipoki to finish before taking his turn. The two then joined the orphan herd who was returning to the browsing fields.