Keepers' Diaries, January 2011

Voi Reintegration Unit

The drought tightened its grip in the Southern Section of Tsavo East so extra supplements were sent down to reinforce the diet of the 12 Stockade Dependent Youngsters based at the Voi Rehabilitation Centre. These have come in useful for visiting Ex Orphans as well. There was just a slight drizzle of rain on the 8th, and again towards the end of the month, but not enough to bring on a flush of green browse. This month the Keeper Dependent Youngsters have had to be more sociable, fraternizing often with both visiting members of Emily’s group of Ex Orphans and also wild herds they encounter during their daily travels. A friendly wild family who have come to drink at the Stockade water trough in the past, returned again on the 11th, after a long absence.

01 January 2011

Wasessa went to greet her favourite, Tassia, as soon as the Stockade Gates were opened this morning. After the usual stockade games, the orphans proceeded to Mazinga hill as usual for the morning’s browsing session, moving to the Big Waterhole for their noon milk feed and mudbath, which all enjoyed on a hot day, even Dida and Sinya, who normally don’t much like wallowing.

02 January 2011

This morning Emily’s group of Ex Orphans came to mingle with the Keeper Dependent Juniors at the Stockade, so there was a very large herd of orphaned elephants at the Stockades! The Keepers noticed that Mweya’s breasts were swelling, indicative of the fact that she may be pregnant and that we can expect another wild-born addition soon. Lesanju did her best to separate her group from the Ex Orphans, and succeeded in doing so eventually! Lesanju is not keen on interacting with the Ex Orphans, or other wild groups, fearful of losing part of her herd to them!

03 January 2011

Temperatures were cooler today, more conducive for browsing. At the mudbath the orphans enjoyed a soil bath instead of the mud, Mzima, Shimba, Lesanju and Siria rushing about tossing huge clumps of soil in the air amidst happy trumpeting. Later, after a rest under shade, they browsed their way slowly back to the Stockades, Ndii leading the way.

04 January 2011

Browsing today was on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill, where Dida and Ndii sprayed loose soil over their backs in between feeding, something that was copied by Siria. The day passed peacefully.

05 January 2011

Ndii and Lesanju led the orphans out to browse today, until Kenia managed to overtake them, Ndii doing her best to block Kenia by presenting her buttocks. However, all then settled down for a peaceful browsing day, declining the wallow at noon, and enjoying a hand-out of Copra in the evening on their return to the Stockades.

06 January 2011

As soon as the Stockade Gates were opened in the morning Wasessa rushed out to get her milk, accidentally knocking down Shimba in the process. Lesanju immediately came to assess the problem, calming Shimba with a tender trunk touch, but Shimba’s misfortune inhibited the usual Stockade games. Instead the orphans headed out without playing, but had a wonderful day, and an enjoyable mudbath at noon.

07 January 2011

It was a hot day prompting the orphans to seek shade early and arrive at the mudbath earlier than usual, ahead of their milk. They thoroughly enjoyed the wallow, Shimba and Taveta so engrossed in plastering themselves with mud that they failed to notice the arrival of the milk vehicle. However, when they did notice that the milk had come, they sped as fast as they could to ensure that they got their share. Later all the orphans fed peacefully, making their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

08 January 2011

Amidst light drizzling rain the orphans went to browse on the Northern side of Mazinga Hill today. There Siria spotted a wild herd feeding nearby, and was about to go and join them when Lesanju hurriedly did an about turn and instead headed for the waterhole. Siria followed reluctantly. There they played, and dusted themselves, feeding around the waterhole throughout the afternoon until it was time to return in the evening.

09 January 2011

After the morning bottle of milk and Dairy cubes, Tassia and Taveta engaged one another in a test of strength closely monitored by Kenia. Wasessa then led the group out into the field where the orphans spread out to feed. All enjoyed the mudbath games before browsing for the rest of the day until it was time to return in the evening.

10 January 2011

It was another cool day for the orphans, so at the mudbath they only splashed some water around, and decided not to go in. Instead they enjoyed scratching their bodies against trees, Ndii the centre of attraction although Lesanju, Taveta and Dida were also active “scratchers”.

11 January 2011

The friendly wild family who had frequented the Stockade water trough last month again came for a drink just after the orphans had left in the morning. They enjoyed a drink from the trough, after which they hung around the Stockades soil dusting and relaxing until they moved off towards Mazinga hill, but did not meet up with Lesanju’s group.

12 January 2011

Aruba, the female kudu orphan who was hand-reared from early infancy by the Keepers, and who is now living wild, came alone to the Stockades without the young bull named Mkuki, who usually travels with her. However, Mkuki is very much still around, regularly seen in amongst the resident wild group.

13 January 2011

The orphans concentrated on browsing along the Northern side of Mazinga Hill today. Siria and Mzima enjoyed a brief pushing game as the others were making their way to the waterhole. All enjoyed a wallow, because the day turned hot, chasing off a warthog in the process who would have liked to share their mudbath.

14 January 2011

Mweya turned up at the Stockades this morning and led the Keeper Dependent orphans towards the Southern end of Mazinga Hill, Lesanju following reluctantly. The rest of Emily’s group was absent, but Lolokwe later joined Mweya as the group was browsing together at the hill. Siria moved forward to greet Lolokwe, inviting him to wrestle for a few moments, before joining all the others. Other members of Emily’s unit were seen browsing further afield and were joined by Mweya and Lolokwe later on in the day, leaving the Youngsters to return to the Stockades with their Keepers.

15 January 2011

Again the orphans browsed the Northern side of the hill, coming down to the waterhole at noon, Lesanju happy to again be the Leader of the herd. Siria focused on Wasessa during mudbath fun and games, something that neither Tassia nor Mzima, were best pleased about.

16 January 2011

The orphans joined a wild group of elephants briefly on their way to the waterhole today, Wasessa greeting a large wild cow very warmly until she noticed her colleagues running for their milk ration, which prompted her to do the same.

17 January 2011

Lempaute, Wasessa and Sinya enjoyed the supplement feed that because of the drought is now never in short supply at the Stockades. They were energized as never before, charging around bush-bashing and trumpeting with excitement which deterred some approaching baboons, much to the amusement of the Keepers!

18 January 2011

The orphans again met up with a wild herd as they reached their feeding area this morning. Wasessa and Siria moved in to join the wild group, focused on a small calf. However, Kenia accessed the calf ahead of them and managed to lure it into playing with her. Wasessa and Siria then attempted to take the calf from Kenia, but the mother quickly came to repossess her baby, in the process chasing off the orphans. The afternoon browsing session was around the waterhole.

19 January 2011

During the Keepers’ usual motorized monitoring patrolling they came across Emily who had a deep cut on her shoulder which looked as though it had been inflicted by a machete. Irima was trailing behind the group, limping heavily. The Keepers escorted the Ex Orphaned group back Stockades where Emily’s wound was sprayed with Iodine. There was not much that could be done about Irima’s sore leg because he resisted close inspection of it. The Ex Orphans were given a hand-out of supplements and remained close to the Stockades for the rest of the day.

20 January 2011

Emily’s group came to the Stockades early in the morning and were given supplements, Emily standing so that her wound could again be treated. The wound appeared clean today, with no apparent foreign body in it. The Ex Orphans left with the Youngsters, but later peeled off to go their own way.

21 January 2011

The wild cow named “Catherine” came to the Stockade compound with her family today. After taking water, her calves had a wonderful time playing with our orphans before the herd moved off and Lesanju managed to lead her group in the opposite direction!

22 January 2011

The orphans were enjoying a game of Hide and Seek out in the bush before settling down to feed until Sinya fell into an erosion trench while playfully chasing Ndii. She screamed loudly, but emerged unhurt after which the orphans browsed their way to the Big Waterhole for their milk and a mudbath. Later they fed around the waterhole, mingling briefly with a wild herd that was coming to drink, but were eager to return to the Stockades where Lucerne, Milk, Copra, Dairy cubes and Grewia branches awaited them.

23 January 2011

Emily’s group came to the Stockades early in the morning and enjoyed lucerne and supplements. Thereafter Sweet Sally and Mweya escorted Dida, Taveta and Ndii encouraging them to play with baby Eve, but supervising events closely. Siria disrupted things by also moving in to play with little Eve, at which time Sweet Sally took the baby away. All the Youngsters then trailed Eve, anxious to resume playing with her, but feeling somewhat overwhelmed by numbers, Eve charged them after which Lesanju rounded up her group, and took them off in the opposite direction to Emily’s group.

24 January 2011

In the rush to get their milk ration in the morning, Tassia and Kenia collided, but this did not interrupt the milk race! Later the Youngsters enjoyed their usual Stockade games before going out to browse. All went well for the remainder of the day, until Kenia led the group back home in the evening.

25 January 2011

Lolokwe, Burra and Laikipia, all bulls from Emily’s group, came to join the youngsters at the Southern foot of Mazinga hill as they were feeding. The three bulls fed amongst Lesanju’s group until noon when the sun became hot prompting the orphans to take to shade. Siria joined Lolokwe, Burra and Laikipia under their tree, but the others distanced themselves from the Big Boys for fear of being mounted! All then returned to the Stockade for the Youngsters’ noon milk feed, after which Lesanju managed to steer her group away from the three Big Boys and head to the Big Waterhole. There Mzima slid down the banks, tossed water in the air, and generally put on a fine display for the others. Meanwhile Laikipia, Burra and Lolokwe rejoined Emily’s group for the afternoon, but all the Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockades in the late evening but after the Juniors had already entered their Stockades for the night. The Ex Orphans enjoyed their hand-out of supplements before leaving again.

26 January 2011

Emily’s group of Ex Orphans came to the Stockades early as the Youngsters were being let out. Mpala had a wonderful wrestling match with Siria, after which Siria decided to head out amongst the Ex Orphaned group the Keepers doing their best to recall him. After an absence of four hours he came back obviously eager for his milk! At the mudbath venue Tassia and Taveta had an altercation over a pile of red earth which was interrupted when Dida and Ndii began to head for home in the evening.

27 January 2011

Laikipia came alone this morning to join the Youngsters as they were enjoying their supplements and escorted them out to browse remaining with them for the next three hours before peeling off. The Youngsters returned to the Stockades at noon for their milk and mudbath, and in the evening Sinya tried to sneak away early but the Keepers restrained her so that she came with the others at the usual time.

28 January 2011

During a routine patrol the Keepers came across Solango, (accompanied by Burra), painfully making his way back to the Stockades dragging the right back leg, which was very swollen at the knee joint. The Keepers accompanied the two back to the Stockades and as they approached, they were joined by Emily’s group. Solango was admitted to the large electrically fenced enclosure that he used to use whilst still Keepers Dependent, where his injury could be monitored, and where he could be under care. Later Laikipia and Burra joined the Keeper Dependent Juniors, escorting them out to browse. Laikipia then accompanied them back to the Stockades for their noon milk feed and a wallow, leaving Burra behind at the hill. Later Laikipia rejoined Burra and both went towards the main Park. Meanwhile, Solango, who had been absent from Emily’s group so far this month was approaching the Stockades laboriously, only able to walk on three legs, one back leg obviously seriously damaged. The Keepers accompanied him slowly and upon arrival admitted him into the Big Enclosure where he could be cared for in terms of food and water. It had obviously been a very laborious and painful process for Solango to get himself back home for help with such a serious injury. He was exhausted, and having taken water and some food, he lay down and slept for the next 24 hours.

29 January 2011

The youngsters left the Stockades early, Shimba trailing the group as he scoured the country for browse to pick as they went. They reached the Big Waterhole at noon where they had a lot of fun, Mzima, Dida and Shimba relaxing in the pool for a long time.

30 January 2011

Lempaute and Lesanju led the Youngsters out today, Sinya remaining with the younger orphans, today paying a great deal of attention to Dida who is usually the favourite of Ndii. There was no wallowing today but instead the orphans concentrated on feeding around the Big Waterhole until it was time to return in the evening.

31 January 2011

There was a light shower of rain in the morning as the orphans reached their browsing area. At the waterhole Lempaute just stood in the shallows as the others bathed. Later they moved off to feed along the foot of Mazinga hill before returning in the evening. Meanwhile, Solango’s injured back leg is showing signs of slight improvement, which is a great relief. He now puts it to the ground and moves around his enclosure where he scratches himself against the large rock and where water, lucerne and other supplements as well as grewia branches are provided for him. The youngsters enjoy going into his compound to give him some company each morning before heading out to feed. Emily’s shoulder wound is improving rapidly, as is Irima’s limp. Edie and a Splinter Group of some of the orphans from Emily’s main group have not been seen since Emily returned a week ago but the motorized patrol is watching out for them.