Keepers' Diaries, January 2001

Voi Reintegration Unit

January is usually a very hot and dry month, but due to a cyclone off the coast of Madagascar, heavy unseasonal rain fell during the first half of the month, bringing on a bountiful flush of green vegetation and filling all the waterholes once again. Temperatures were cooler than normal and most of the wild elephants left the Voi River range, heading inland, so that contact with the wild herds was less.

01 January 2001

Imenti headed for the mudwallow ahead of Emily's group. Emily lay down in the mud and Nyiro, Salama and Mweiga climbed on her. They all spent the afternoon together and returned together to the Stockades in the evening.

02 January 2001

Emily's group spent two hours with the youngsters having left the Night Stockades, with Aitong remaining close to Nyiro. Salama played with Ilingwezi at 9.30 a.m. and then challenged Laikipia at 10 a.m. Afterwards Emily's group separated, but met the babies again at the mudbath where all put on a "spectacular show". Imenti and Aitong challenged a baboon at 2.30 p.m. and sent him on his way!

03 January 2001

Both groups left together, but then separated. Natumi, Edie and Lolokwe spent the morning chasing butterflies. Emily met up with the babies at the mudbath which was "full of exercise". In the afternoon a herd of impalas grazed nearby, tolerated by the orphans. Emily and Aitong played together, but Imenti was seen to be limping, his right hind leg had a small wound and was swollen. He was given colloidal Silver and the wound is being dressed.

04 January 2001

Laikipia started the day by playing with Mweiga whilst Natumi played with Edie. Natumi, Edie, Laikipia and Salama went after a bushback which they happened across, and saw it off. After the mudbath, the orphans rested under shade for 2 hours before Emily went eastwards to feed during which time they met a wild group of 4 elephants, which Aitong and Loisaba approached.

05 January 2001

The morning was spent as usual, and all met up at the mudbath where they had a wonderful time and when Salama, Nyiro and Lolokwe, played together pushing one another. The afternoon was spent all together grazing on the Eastern side of the hill where they met a group of wild elephants with whom they spent 30 minutes.

06 January 2001

After leaving the Stockades Emily left Natumi's group briefly but rejoined them at 10.30 a.m. when they all browsed together. Natumi played, running to and fro swinging her trunk and menacing the others, inviting them to join in the game, which they did. At the mudbath Imenti lay down and was climbed on by three youngsters. In the afternoon he and Emily had their usual game.

07 January 2001

Both groups left together and met up with a wild group with whom they intermingled, walking, grazing and playing together. Aitong happily played with a wild companion. At the mudbath, Imenti wrestled with the drum of water and knocked it over. The rest of the day was spent together feeding, and returning in the evening to the Stockades.

08 January 2001

The day was spent as usual, leaving together, parting briefly, then meeting up before the mudbath and feeding together all afternoon before returning in the evening.

09 January 2001

Today Aitong was very possessive of Nyiro. She kept coming to try and take him away from the Keepers, watching over him when he had his milk at noon. In the evening, our orphans joined a wild group with whom they spent time before returning to the Stockades. The morning was spent as usual, and all the orphans wallowed together, when Salama played with Mweiga and Emily played with Imenti. At 4.30 p.m. Salama had a prolonged play with Laikipia and Emily and Imenti had another game, whilst Aitong rushed around on the sidelines.

10 January 2001

Soon after leaving the Stockades, the orphans met 4 waterbuck which frightened the youngsters. Emily, Aitong and Imenti charged the antelopes reinforced by Edie, Salama and Laikipia. There was no mudbath today because there were showers of rain and it was cool. The orphans enjoyed the afternoon together.

11 January 2001

Ilingwezi played with Salama for 20 minutes after leaving the Stockades, after which Emily's group left the youngsters. There was no wallow today, due to rain, but Salama, Natumi and Laikipia played in the afternoon, when they were joined by Emily's group.

12 January 2001

The orphans all left together and spent the morning together. They enjoyed a spectacular mudbath when Laikipia and Salama had a mock battle which was won by Laikipia. Nyiro got stuck in the mud but was rescued by Aitong. Emily swam in the rainfilled pool, immersing herself in the water, whilst Mweiga played with Nyiro. Today, "Tsavo" (the new calf) arrived at 4.30 p.m. He was very fearful and restless until Emily's group returned. Emily and Aitong hurried to greet him, gathering him close, and immediately he became calm.

13 January 2001

Both groups left together, leaving Tsavo behind in the Stockade, because we, the Keepers, were fearful that he might run away. At the mudbath Natumi played with Edie and after milk, Salama fought with Laikipia for 10 minutes. Emily and Imenti played after wallowing and Loisaba and Mweiga rolled around together. Back at the Stockades Emily's group hurried to take over "Tsavo", escorting him outside the Stockade to feed on Copra Cake and take water.

14 January 2001

Again Tsavo was left behind in the Stockade when the others left in the morning. Emily's group parted from the others at 8 a.m. but joined them again at the Wallow when Natumi played with Edie. Emily and Imenti played after wallowing and after taking milk Salama again fought Laikipia and Loisaba and Mweiga rolled about together. In the evening Aitong hurried ahead to take "Tsavo", escorting him out of the Stockade to feed on Copra and take water but being too possessive to give the Keepers a chance to try and feed him a bottle of milk.

15 January 2001

Both groups left together as usual, leaving Tsavo behind, and spent the morning together, Imenti leading the way to the mudwallow l0 minutes ahead of all the others. There Laikipia and Salama played. At 2 p.m. the orphans rested under shade before Emily and Imenti had their usual game. On reporting back to the Stockades, Aitong was locked in, so that Tsavo could be with Emily and take milk from the bottle, which he did. Aitong became very agitated, kneeling down and peeping through the mesh and when the feed was over, she rushed up to the calf and followed every step he made.

16 January 2001

Today, the new calf, "Tsavo", accompanied the other orphans when they left the Stockade. They all had a wonderful wallow when Icholta and Lolokwe played for sometime. Emily kept Tsavo close but he enjoyed a game with Mweiga in the wallow, as Emily watched closely. Tsavo shows no signs of wanting to leave Emily, and paid no attention to Natumi's group. The orphans took a rest under a tree in the afternoon and returned in the evening together with the new calf.

17 January 2001

All orphans left together and wallowed together at 11.30 a.m. when Nyiro had a very happy time playing with Tsavo as Emily kept watch over them. In the afternoon the orphans rested under shade before Emily and Imenti had their usual game, watched by Tsavo. Aitong did her best to get Tsavo close to her but he wanted only Emily.

18 January 2001

The morning was spent together. At mudbath today Lolokwe, Icholta and Tsavo played together and Salama and Mweiga occupied each other. Afterwards the orphans rested under shade for an hour after which Emily took Tsavo off with her group, Mweiga lagging far behind, which was unusual.

19 January 2001

The morning was spent as usual and during the mudbath Ilingwezi and Natumi had a wonderful play. In the mudbath Aitong helped Mweiga up from the mud and Tsavo was very compatible, dissolving into the group as one of them. After a rest under a tree, the orphans fed, both groups intermingling. Emily seemed very attached to Tsavo, ignoring Mweiga.

20 January 2001

Emily parted from Natumi's group after leaving the Stockades, but joined them again at the mudbath. Natumi and Nyiro enjoyed climbing on Imenti who lay down for them, and later Aitong took Nyiro away with her whilst the others were busy playing. Both Emily and Aitong were very caring of Tsavo. In the afternoon at 3 p.m. they met up with a wild herd, who showed interest in Tsavo.

21 January 2001

The orphans spent some time together in the early morning, when Imenti played with Emily before the two groups separated. They met up later at the mudbath where Salama "joyously" played with Lolokwe. Imenti was reluctant to wallow, lingering near the drums of water bent on toppling them over, but he was restrained with a fierce voice. Aitong kept "nagging" Tsavo to accompany her during the bottle feeding process and Imenti again played with Emily in the afternoon.

22 January 2001

The orphans remained together in the morning. Salama tried to play with Tsavo but Tsavo declined the invitation. During the wallow Emily played with Tsavo whilst Aitong kept lifting up all those who got stuck. In the afternoon Emily and Imenti chased away a Monitor Lizard.

23 January 2001

Both groups left together and then Emily's group parted from the babies. At the mudbath Mweiga played with Nyiro, who then took on Lolokwe, whilst Natumi played with Edie and Imenti lay down so that they could all climb over him.

24 January 2001

All the orphans left together, but Emily then separated, joining the others again at the mudbath at 11.30 a.m. Laikipia and Salama played together and in the afternoon Salama played with Edie and then Laikipia. Mweiga was very independent of Aitong and Emily today staying close to Loisaba instead. Imenti and Emily played at 3.30 p.m. when Aitong was allowed possession of little Tsavo. At 4 p.m. a group of wild elephants joined Emily's group and Aitong "seduced" a wild calf to play with her.

25 January 2001

Today Tsavo joined Natumi's group and Mweiga was again very independent of Emily and Aitong, staying close to Loisaba. Since it was chilly, there was no mudwallow. Imenti fed apart from the others until l.30 p.m. when he joined them.

26 January 2001

The orphans left together, and then retraced their steps to feed up the hill awaiting the arrival of the three Nairobi babies. Mrs. Sheldrick arrived ahead of the truck which came in at midday. Yatta, Kinna and Mukwaju were walked off the truck at the loading ramp, and were offered milk, but were not keen on feeding. Natumi's group came to greet the newcomers after 15 minutes, but the Nairobi orphans seemed more interested in their Keepers than the other elephants. A little later Emily's group came excitedly to greet the newcomers, putting their trunks over them. Kinna shoved Emily on the trunk, which surprised Emily who put out her ears, but then gently laid her trunk over Kinna's head to calm her. Imenti sat down first and then lay down nearby hoping the babies could come to him. Afterwards, all the orphans went together up the hill, where Aitong worked hard on the Nairobi three, constantly approaching them to comfort them. In the evening Mrs. Sheldrick noticed that Salama's eye was running and ordered treatment, whilst Imenti was dosed with a homeopathic wart remedy she had brought from Nairobi for the "pimples" on his trunk. (Daphne reports:- It was obvious that the Nairobi orphans recognised Natumi's eight. After all, they had shared time in the Nursery last year, so the excitement leve at this reunionl was much more muted. However, the newcomers were clearlyt daunted by the big elephants, clinging close to their Keepers, andt spirited little Kinna tried to deter Emilyby giving her a hard shove! Having been orphaned when only weeks old, the Nairobi three would not recollect their elephant family,so their fear was not unexpected. Since everything was now so strange, they did not sleep very well that first night.)

27 January 2001

All the orphans fed together up the hill, but the Nairobi three were afraid of the Big Elephants and kept running back to their Keepers and the Natumi group. At 11.30 a.m. the Nairobi orphans were fed ahead of the other eight, and then Emily brought Tsavo and Mweiga along for their quota of milk. Natumi's group along with the Nairobi three went to the mudbath followed by Emily's group. Imenti challenged a moving vehicle and had to be reprimanded with a fierce voice. In the afternoon all the orphans grazed together.

28 January 2001

All the orphans left together, after which Emily's group parted from the youngsters. In the mudbath Yatta, Kinna, Nyiro and Icholta had a "dramatic" play and were joined by Emily's group. Imenti immersed himself in the waterhole, joined by Laikipia who did likewise and who is very adventurous in water. Mukwaju was not eager to get in, probably remembering that he was once stuck in mud.

29 January 2001

Emily left the youngsters at the Spring Gate. Laikipia and Salama kept playing together all morning before mudbath. Today, the orphans had a wonderful mudbath joined by Emily and the older set, when Laikipia again submerged himself in the waterhole, joined later by some of the others. Aitong lifted Kinna out of the mud. During the afternoon all the orphans fed together near the hill, when Emily and Imenti enjoyed their usual game, and Aitong managed to "possess" Tsavo.

30 January 2001

The youngsters fed together all morning when Salama and Laikipia played for 20 minutes. They wallowed "joyously" at 11.30 a.m. joined by Emily's group when Aitong lifted Mweiga out of the mud. Emily and Aitong supervised Tsavo, Kinna and Yatta who played together in the afternoon, and when Emily and Imenti played, Aitong could again take possession of Tsavo.

31 January 2001

All the orphans left together in the morning. At the Spring Gate Natumi and Yatta lagged behind the others, feeding together. Later Yatta, Kinna and Mukwaju kept "nagging" their Nairobi Keepers for milk. In the mudbath Nyiro had a wonderful time playing with Lolokwe and Salama and in the afternoon Emily and Imenti had their usual game whilst Mweiga tried to tempt Tsavo into a game.