Keepers' Diaries, February 2023

Select your unit:

Voi Reintegration Unit

In Voi, the month began on a peaceful note, as the older girls showcased how diligently they look after the new rescues. Caring Godoma shepherded little Baraka onto the terraces where the two friends settled down to eat, ears flapping gently. Calm Mbegu was hanging out with Busara and Dabida, while Ngilai wandered between the pellets and the lucerne, unable to decide which to eat first. Ashanti, Hildana, Kilulu, Akina, Seri, and Kenderi lined up at the feeding trough to munch on range cubes. Everyone was very relaxed.

Baraka, a drought victim who is one of the youngest members of our Voi herd, has developed a lovely friendship with Godoma. As the orphans walked out to browse one afternoon, he started at the front of the herd, but as soon as he realised Godoma wasn’t with him, he turned back and trumpeted in alarm. In response, not only Godoma but also Tamiyoi, Mbegu, and Sagala ran over and surrounded him. 

On the afternoon of the 10th, ex-orphan Laikipia wandered into the stockade compound. He continued to visit throughout the month. Several of the younger babies were awestruck by the older the bull, who, at 24 years old, cuts an impressive figure. Upon first taking in his formidable appearance, newbies Busara and Juni panicked and ran off, trunks up and ears flared. Noticing their confusion, Sagala and Tagwa quickly went over and reassured the babies.

As he continued to visit, however, the babies began to hero-worship Laikipia. Some of them stood so close that they were leaning on him. It was sweet to see how Lemeki and Pika Pika intervened, protectively placing themselves between the youngsters and Laikipia. Seri took things a step further and stood between the big elephant’s forelegs, making a half-hearted attempt to suckle from him. Laikipia dealt with the situation calmly but firmly, pushing away Seri but not hurting her.

Emoli is converting Lasayen and Murit into playful boys. One day, he saw Lasayen lay chilling on a pile of red earth. This was too much temptation, so Emoli pounced on the prone elephant, taking him by surprise. Lasayen quickly stood up, accepting the challenge to spar with his friend. Murit could not resist joining the game, ousting Emoli from his own game. This is quite a change of character for both Lasayen and Murit, neither of whom are known for being very playful. On the other hand, Ndotto and Ngilai can always be relied upon to start a game. They will happily play with anyone and everyone, boy or girl, young or old.

Emoli has also been singling out Thamana for games. The younger bull enjoys these games, but he is rightfully wary of Emoli’s strength. One afternoon, Thamana chose to stay close to Suswa, the protective peacemaker. Determined Emoli still managed to sneak up behind them and play-mount Thamana. He refused to retreat until Embu got involved and chased him away. Embu and Suswa are such showoffs. They are constantly peacocking, inviting admiration and attention from the rest of the herd. One day, Embu made a big show of squatting on a rock, scratching her big bottom and shaking her trunk with pleasure. Observing this display, Suswa lay down next to her friend to demonstrate her expertise at rolling around on the ground. The other orphans continued to eat, apparently unimpressed with the two showoffs!

Ngilai’s largely unrequited crush on Tagwa continues. As the orphan herd set off for their daily bush walk, Ngilai can be observed walking side by side with the lovely girl, gently touching her with his trunk.

Pika Pika is such a water princess. This usually means that she is the first orphan into the water and the last one out. One afternoon, however, she wanted a deluxe swimming experience. The little princess waited until the other orphans had vacated the pool before splashing into the water herself. She then enjoyed a lengthy swim, charging around and kicking up huge clouds of muddy water. This would have continued indefinitely, but eventually Embu came and tried to coax her out. Pika Pika knew that she had all the power, as the other orphans could not afford to leave her behind. Eventually, Suswa ran out of patience and took charge. She got back into the water and used her tusks to prod Pika Pika onto dry land. 

We don’t think of Tagwa and Tamiyoi as stars of the mud bath, but they had their moment this month! The best friends enjoyed a long, dramatic swim, full of flailing trunks and swinging legs. Afterwards, Tamiyoi lay near the edge and Tagwa squatted on her stomach, resting her large bottom and waving her trunk in delight.

The 23rd was a very exciting day, for it was finally time for new rescues Itinyi and Epiya to make their Voi debut. After a long time recuperating in the taming stockades, they were ready to join the rest of the orphan herd in the bush. Sensing their nervousness, Mbegu, Sagala, and Tamiyoi gently surrounded the newbies and escorted them out. 

To everyone’s surprise, Itinyi relaxed so much that he began to play-mount Dabida, Kenderi, and Ashanti. Nannies Mbegu, Suswa, and Tamiyoi kept a close eye on the young bull, preventing him from trying to climb on top of the smallest orphans, Baraka and Busara. Epiya was a bit more reserved, but she quickly settled into the herd dynamics. 

On the 27th, we welcomed a lovely surprise visitor. As the orphans made their way along the foot of Msinga Hill, an elephant belonging to a wild herd charged over to join them. We quickly realised that it was ex-orphan Rorogoi, who had gone wild a few months prior!

Her return caused lots of excitement. Suswa trumpeted loudly as Godoma ran around in circles, waving her ears and touching her friend. The Keepers joined the party, giving Rorogoi some lucerne as a treat to welcome her. It was wonderful to see her looking so happy and healthy.

February 2023 day to day

01 Feb

In the early morning, the orphans enjoyed their breakfast of milk followed by dairy pellets and lucerne. Caring Godoma shepherded little Baraka onto the terraces where the two friends settled down to eat, ears flapping gently as their trunks deftly scooped the pellets into their mouths. Calm Mbegu was hanging out with Busara and Dabida as Ngilai wandered between the pellets and the lucerne, unable to decide which to eat first. Ashanti, Hildana, Kilulu, Akina, Seri and Kenderi lined up at the feeding trough to munch on range cubes. The Keepers were happy to see how relaxed Seri is becoming with her new friends.

As the sun rose into the sky, Tamiyoi sent Emoli a silent message and the two elephants led the herd out to the browsing fields. At the foot of Msinga Hill, the dependent orphans settled down to browse near the baobab water trough. Young bulls Ngilai and Murit played the wrestling game with gusto. On the other side of the trough, Lasayen tried unsuccessfully to persuade Godoma to spar with him – she waved her trunk, turned her back and wandered away with Baraka to continue browsing.

On a hot dry afternoon, the orphans had their usual milk feed and then wandered over to the mud bath. Suswa was showing off, rolling around on the edge of the water to impress the others. Pika Pika, Embu and Godoma swam and splashed and played in the middle of the wallow. Ndotto stood close by, undecided as to whether to get into the water. The herd then meandered out for a final browse, except for Suswa, Pika Pika, Embu and Godoma who chose to remain submerged in the cooling mud. 

Ngilai and Murit sparring

Suswa having fun at mud bath

Ndotto at the water's edge