Keepers' Diaries, January 2010

Voi Reintegration Unit

The year began with the following ex Nursery orphans resident at the Voi Unit Stockades – Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, Shimba, Mzima, Siria, Taveta, Tassia, Kenia and Shira. Also still within the vicinity throughout the month were Emily and her calf Eve, Edie and her calf Ella, and some of the ex orphans accompanying these two now “wild” Matriarchs. (Emily and Edie brought their respective calves back to the human family at the height of the 2009 drought, their babies weakened since the mothers’ lactating capacity had been compromised by the extreme conditions. Supplements sent down from Nairobi to boost the mothers’ milk yields happened to coincide with the onset of the first heavy rains, so both calves rapidly recovered and are now again healthy.)

01 January 2010

The Stockade Dependent Voi orphans always greet each morning with fun and games in the yard as their Keepers prepare to escort them out for the day. Several heavy rainstorms have brought on lush browse at every turn, which the orphans are enjoying immensely. Today they headed out to Mazinga Hill where Shimba and Shira demonstrated their climbing skills, Sinya, Lempaute and Lesanju not far behind, but the others preferring to remain on the lower slopes. All linked up at noon to go to the milk and mudbath venue where they thoroughly enjoyed bathing in the large and deep waterhole. The afternoon was spent browsing nearby until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

02 January 2010

Early in the morning, the ex orphans led by Emily and Edie turned up at the Stockade accompanied by their newly recruited friendly wild boy. Having spent time playing around the compound with the Keeper Dependent babies, Icholta led the entire herd to the northern side of Mazinga Hill where they browsed together until the Youngsters spotted the Pickup carrying their milk bottles heading to the Mudbath. The milk dependent babies left the ex orphans and ran after it. Having taken their milk, they enjoyed a wallow, with Mzima, Lempaute, Wasessa and Tassia submerging themselves, while the others watched from the opposite bank.

03 January 2010

Having emerged in the morning, Shimba, Shira and Mzima initiated their “hide and seek” game, chasing and threatening the baboons who were coming down from the hill and who decided to take a detour to the Staff lines rather than pass by the Stockades. Meanwhile the other orphans were browsing nearby, until Lesanju led them further afield. Wasessa commandeered Tassia and Shira while Lesanju remained close to the others. Siria led them to the mudbath at noon, where they had a lot of fun, having taken their milk. Wallowing was followed by soil dusting, and a rest under shade, before resuming browsing during the afternoon.

04 January 2010

After the usual exuberant games at the Stockade Compound, Shimba, who normally is a lone Ranger, led the orphans out to browse. En route the orphans spotted some Vervet monkeys and the impala herd, which Shimba dispersed. A heavy rainstorm ensued after the orphans had taken their milk at noon, so there was no need to visit the mudbath today. Instead the orphans fed above the KWS offices until it was time to go into their Stockade for the night.

05 January 2010

Kenia led the group out to the field today, which made Shira and Taveta envious. Both tried their best to out-pace her, but Shira was determined not to relinquish the leadership role. The pace of all increased as a result, until it became a charging game, headed by Shimba. All then decided to play for a while. Later Mzima and Shira were in competition to reach the milk venue first at noon. With plenty of rainwater puddles around, again there was no need to visit the mudbath, so the orphans spent the afternoon browsing until Lesanju led them back home in the evening.

06 January 2010

Following the usual Stockade games, Mzima led the orphans up Mazinga hill. Sinya, Taveta and Mzima feeding close to one another while Tassia felt comfortable beside his adopted “mother” Wasessa. It was a cool day, so the orphans were in no hurry to come down the hill, until they heard the milk van, then all descended in a rush. During the afternoon they browsed along the base of the hill before returning in the evening.

07 January 2010

It was a beautiful calm morning, with heavy dark clouds promising more rain. Tsavo had blossomed due to rain after the drought. All the birds were singing and the happiness on the faces of the orphans could not be missed, as they filed out to feed. After their noon milk, the orphans visited the Red Waterhole, but it was too chilly to bathe. Only Mzima sprayed water over himself using his trunk, while all the others fed nearby before returning in the late evening to the Stockades.

08 January 2010

Today Lempaute led the orphans to the Western side of Mazinga hill where they fed until it was time for a swim in the deep Red Waterhole on a hot Tsavo day. Later the orphans sheltered from the sun, Tassia enjoying suckling on Wasessa’s ear. Siria crept up to try and mount Tassia, but Wasessa soon disciplined him puncturing his rump with her short sharp tusks. Siria screamed, which scared all the others and triggered the afternoon feeding session. Back at the Stockades, the Keepers dressed Siria’s punctured bottom with ointment.

09 January 2010

The orphans left the Stockades during a heavy downpour of rain, Sinya and Lesanju taking them high up onto Mazinga Hill, where they so enjoyed feeding on moist branches so much so that they ignored the call of the Keepers to come for their noon milk. Instead they had an evening bottle of milk instead along with some of the supplements sent from Nairobi for Emily and Edie.

10 January 2010

On a cloudy morning the orphans set out to browse, enjoying rolling in some soft warm soil they found along the way. With so many rain puddles, they never visited the Waterhole today. Shira hung back having noticed that Emily’s group was trailing them, also heading for the Stockades. However, fearing that the others might usurp her milk ration, she eventually decided to run after them. With Emily was her baby “Eve”, plus Edie and her baby “Ella” as well as Mweya, Solango and Lolokwe. The ex orphans hung around the Stockades for a while, having enjoyed some Copra Cake, before moving off again.

11 January 2010

On another beautiful morning, the orphans lined up outside their Night Stockades to take their milk. Kenia and Shira led the group out while Lesanju and Wasessa were occupied rounding up the stragglers who were involved in Stockade games. All feasted on fresh new grass, and enjoyed rain water from rocky pools so there was no need to visit the Waterhole. Today the orphaned kudus, Mkuki and Aruba visited the Stockades, but without Njia. The Keepers were afraid that Njia could have been killed by the resident leopard who has been feasting on baboons, and who killed an impala recently.

12 January 2010

Today the orphans browsed for most of the day along the Western side of Mazinga Hill. After a spectacular bathing session in the Red Waterhole, they returned to the foot of Mazinga Hill where they met up with Edie’s group. Emily and a few other members of the ex orphans were missing. Siria who is always very comfortable in amongst the ex orphans, took on Lolokwe, Sosian and Mweya in turn for a pushing match. When Lesanju rounded up the Stockade group to take them back in the evening Edie took her group in a northerly direction.

13 January 2010

It was another beautiful day that saw the orphans enjoying browsing for the better part of the day. They enjoyed a wonderful bath at noon and returned to the foot of Mazinga Hill in the afternoon. The ex orphaned groups of Emily and Edie were spotted below the hill, approaching the Red Waterhole for a swim. Later Icholta followed the scent trail left by the Youngsters and came to join them for the afternoon browsing session, returning to her group once the Stockade orphans left to return to the Stockades in the evening.

14 January 2010

The orphans browsed throughout the morning, ending up at the Waterhole at noon. Because it was a cool day only Mzima got into the water, but only up to his tummy and exited shortly to enjoy a strength testing game with Siria. Later on they all browsed their way back home in the evening.

15 January 2010

Sinya led the orphans to the Southern side of Mazinga Hill today. They moved gradually towards the Waterhole as noon approached, but Tassia took a break en route to suckle Wasessa’s ears. She enjoyed this tender moment, closing her eyes, until she noticed that the others had moved on and it was time to run and catch up with them. After their milk all plunged into the pool for a highly charged bath, and afterwards browsed close by until Kenia led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

16 January 2010

The orphans were upset and ran back to their Keepers having come upon the half eaten body of an impala just 50 metres from their Stockade. Later on Lempaute enjoyed plucking grass and putting it onto her back, replacing it with more whenever it dropped off!

17 January 2010

Today, a German Filming crew were at the Stockades to film the orphans as they left in the morning, Kenia again having an opportunity to lead the column since Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya were involved with the visitors. At the mudbath Shimba put on a spectacular display, picking up a piece of cloth brought in by the rain, and hitting the water with it held in his trunk. The orphans fed around the waterhole close to a group of about 20 impalas until two impala rams began chasing each other which scared Mzima, sending him fleeing back to the Keepers. Lesanju led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

18 January 2010

On another lovely day the orphans assembled outside their Night Stockade in the morning to enjoy their milk and Copra Cake. After a brief drink at the waterhole, Shimba surprised them all by heading out ahead of the usual routine games. He took them to the northern side of Mazinga Hill where they browsed before going to the waterhole at noon. In the pool Taveta, Sinya, Lempaute and Kenia squatted rubbing their buttocks against the banks. Later they moved off feeding their way back home, just missing an encounter with Edie and her group who came to the Red Waterhole at 3 p.m.

19 January 2010

As the orphans were approaching the northern slopes of Mazinga Hill, the Keepers were surprised to see Shira and Siria raising their trunks and rumbling as they ran round the corner of the hill. When the Keepers caught up with them they were surprised to find them with Emily and Edie and their entourage. All then fed together until it was mudbath time when they went together to the waterhole at noon, and there enjoyed a wonderful and joint bathing session, Lolokwe, Salama and Nyiro playing with Siria. Lolokwe and Salama grabbed the same piece of cloth floating on the water that Shimba had enjoyed, and likewise began striking it against the water, taking turn and turn about, whilst Icholta used a dry stick to scratch her belly. Laikipia and Salama engaged one another in a pushing match. Siria was having such a good time that he forewent his bottle of milk when it arrived in the Pickup, but took it later after all the action had finished. When the Youngsters left the Waterhole, Icholta remained with them for a while, but then rumbled and returned to Emily’s group who were moving towards the airstrip.

20 January 2010

The orphans reached the feeding grounds early in the morning, but Lesanju and Lempaute were scared by two warring male waterbuck, and ran back to the Keepers for protection. Since it was a cool day, there was no need to bathe today, so the Youngsters instead fed throughout the afternoon until it was time to return in the evening, Kenia leading them back.

21 January 2010

On a cool morning Lempaute led the orphans high up Mazinga Hill with Shimba taking his time lagging far behind the rest, and settling to feed on the lower slopes. It was too cool for a bath today, so having taken their noon milk feed, the orphans returned to the slopes of the hill where they browsed until time to return in the evening.

22 January 2010

After some spirited chasing games around the compound in the morning Siria and Shimba led the Stockade orphans into the field, all the others following in single file. At noon they gathered around the fresh water drinking bins to take a drink before Mzima, Siria, Shira and Lempaute went in to bathe. Later they browsed their way back home in the evening.

23 January 2010

Taveta enjoyed scratching his body against a rock this morning, watched by closely by the others, and keeping a close eye on them for fear that they might take advantage of him and try and mount him when he wasn’t looking. They then headed out led by Sinya who took them high up the Southern side of the hill. They came down for a drink at the Stockades before heading to the eastern side of Mazinga Hill, where they fed peacefully near a large herd of impalas. Mzima led them home today.

24 January 2010

Drama occurred today when Mzima managed to snatch a branch from Siria’s mouth, something that infuriated Siria who went in hot pursuit to try and recover the morsel. However, eventually he gave up, and at the waterhole the altercation was resolved by fun and games in the water.

25 January 2010

Lesanju and Wasessa led the orphans to the base of Mazinga hill to feed. After their noon milk feed, Shira was first to plunge into the pool followed by all the others except Mzima and Siria who went in long after all the others had come out. They were having such a wonderful time that Shira and Kenia wanted to join them, but Siria left the pool to block them and instead engage them in a pushing game. Meanwhile the others were moving back towards the Stockades, so the four “swimmers” ran to join them.

26 January 2010

All the orphans fed calmly until noon when they assembled at the Waterhole and had a wonderful time, tossing their trunks skywards and trumpeting happily. Shimba, who never used to like water, has turned into the swimming star bent on climbing onto any of his colleagues who are lying down. Today he nailed Kenia taking a comfortable ride on her back while she screamed loudly, bringing the Keepers to intervene. All had full bellies when they returned to the Stockades in the evening.

27 January 2010

After the usual Stockade games, the orphans browsed until noon when they reached the Waterhole. There Siria pushed Mzima away every time he tried to get into the pool, until it was time to leave and catch up with the others who were moving off to feed.

28 January 2010

After the usual Stockade Games the orphans browsed their way slowly towards the noon milk and mudbath venue. Kenia took a brief bath before going out to join Sinya, who had decided to abstain today. Siria managed to mount onto Lempaute in the water before playing with Wasessa and Tassia, when Shimba took a turn climbing over Lempaute. They then browsed their way back home during the afternoon and evening.

29 January 2010

The orphans fed enthusiastically until mudbath time, when they all had fun in the pool with Shira choosing to put some distance between her and the others in order to circumvent being mounted. However Siria attempted to mount onto Lempaute, but she saw him coming and ran out. The afternoon was spent browsing around the base of Mazinga Hill.

30 January 2010

Sinya led the orphans high up the southern side of the hill today, where they browsed around the rocks picking up a great variety of small herbs. They took their noon milk feed and mudbath at the Stockades, and then returned to the hill to feed for the remainder of the day.

31 January 2010

Today the orphans ventured further afield on the Northern side of the hill and on their way back in the evening, came across Emily and Edie and their respective ex orphans. Shira paused to mingle with them, but the others ignored the ex orphans and were running to get their milk. Shira then tried to follow suit but was blocked by Mweya and Icholta, who wanted her to remain with them. This she did, only returning to the Stockades later in amongst the ex orphans when the Keepers returned her to her Night quarters. Very sadly the new orphaned eland calf called Manga was dull today and obviously unwell. The Keepers called the Vet from the Trust’s mobile Veterinary Unit who treated him, but the baby died a few hours later.