Keepers' Diaries, January 2012

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Having been moved from the Nursery in December, Layoni, Rombo and Dabassa have settled well into the Voi Unit, initially preferring to distance themselves a little from the others whilst out browsing, as, indeed, they used to do in the Nursery, but by month end very much part of the gang. The newcomers have been warmly embraced by the Voi Unit orphans, Kenia paying particular attention to Layoni, caressing him with her trunk and often browsing by his side throughout the day.

Having been moved from the Nursery in December, Layoni, Rombo and Dabassa have settled well into the Voi Unit, initially preferring to distance themselves a little from the others whilst out browsing, as, indeed, they used to do in the Nursery, but by month end very much part of the gang. The newcomers have been warmly embraced by the Voi Unit orphans, Kenia paying particular attention to Layoni, caressing him with her trunk and often browsing by his side throughout the day.

The Ex Orphan Groups of Emily and Edie have been regular visitors to the Voi Stockades this month, so the Juniors have enjoyed a lot of interaction with the Seniors. With the Senior Group of Emily and Edie is a wild teenaged bull whom they appear to have recruited into their Ex Orphan unit and who is a gentle and polite character who gets on well with all the others. He is demonstratively fond of Emily’s baby, “Eve”, often singling her out for special trunk loving. The Ex Orphan Group, and their wild born offspring (Eve and Edie’s calf, “Ella”) visited the Juniors at the Stockades on the 2nd and again on the 7th, when for the first time they noticed the three newcomers amongst the Junior Group. Immediately Mweya, Ndara and Big Boy Laikipia homed in on Dabassa, rumbling and greeting him warmly before welcoming the other two, Layoni and Rombo. When the Ex Orphan unit was about to leave the Stockades, Thoma and Mweya ushered Dabassa and Layoni to the front of the column, anxious to hijack them into their herd. Dabassa and Layoni who were orphaned old enough to remember their wild life clearly, were happy to have been singled out for such prestigious initiation. They went a short distance with the Senior Group, but returned to the Junior Group when the Keepers called them back, no doubt mindful of whereabouts of their milk ration!

Siria, who left the Keeper Dependent group to join the Ex Orphan Seniors a month or two ago, has been dividing his time between the two groups, often joining the Juniors and remaining with them until they return to their Night Stockades in the evening, before leaving again to catch up with the Seniors. Whereas previously he was a Big Fish in the Little Pond, the Keepers believe that having been with the Seniors, he is now much better behaved having been disciplined by Bigger Boys as a Little Fish in a Big Pond. He is much less “Pushy” towards the Junior Boys than when he was part of their Group!

The Ex Orphans all paid another visit to the Stockades during the evening of the 11th, when Eve climbed the large boulder near the Stockade water trough, closely guarded by Sweet Sally (her main Nannie) and also Mvita, who appeared concerned that Eve might fall, according to the Keepers, since she tossed her trunk repeatedly towards the rock and rumbled to Eve. What has become evident is that Ex Orphan Mothers of wild-born babies implicitly entrust the protection and care of their offspring to the Nannies, they themselves appearing extremely unconcerned and relaxed in that respect. The Ex Orphans all again came to drink at the Stockades on the 13th , bringing Siria along with them, and taking him off again when leaving.
Ex Orphan Burra turned up alone at the Big Waterhole on the 14th during the Juniors’ noon mudbath, scaring Dabassa who was not familiar with him and who panicked and rushed out. Burra then singled out Dida for special loving. There have been some very ho days this month when Dida has actually braved going into the Big Waterhole, diligently overseen by Kenia to ensure that none of the boys rough and tumble with her. Dida (who is now over 4 years old) seems to have improved since being on he tinned S26 formula milk, but is still somewhat stunted for her age and not as robust as the others.

An exciting and heartwarming event took place on the 24th. “Aruba”, the orphaned female kudu hand-reared from early infancy at the Voi Elephant Rehabilitation Centre by the Voi Unit Elephant Keepers, gave birth to a female fawn about l00 metres from the Stockades. She allowed her human Carers to actually touch her baby whilst she was still in the process of cleaning it of foetal material. She has since remained close to the Stockades with her baby, hiding it in thick bush nearby at night. The orphaned Kudu bull named “Mkuki” who was reared alongside Aruba, and usually accompanies her, was not present the day the baby was born, but rejoined mother and baby a few days later, clearly very happy to welcome the new arrival.

Wasessa’s love of Emsaya is again emphasized throughout this month’s Diary as is her favouritism of Tassia along with the friendly rivalry of the young bulls, Mzima (now the dominant boy of the Juniors), Shimba and Taveta. When Mzima wanted the Dust-bath near the Big Waterhole to himself, he cunningly deliberately blew dust from his trunk straight into the eyes of Lempaute and Shimba, forcing them to leave so hat he could have the dustbath all to himself! This simple act emphasizes the fact that elephants reason!

The month ended with a visit to the Voi Unit’s Dependent Elephant Orphans by hordes of school children on the 30th, as part of the Trust’s Community Outreach Programme, when Lempaute, as usual, entertained the audience by showing off all her tricks! And on the 31st Ex Orphan Mweya came to the Stockades on her own, hoping to meet up with the Juniors who had already left for the field. She enjoyed a drink of water before heading off again.

January 2012 day to day

01 Jan

The New Year began for the Voi orphans with play in the Compound before heading out to browse East of the Stockades. They came for their milk at the Stockade where Lesanju lay in the pile of soft red soil after bathing. Eventually Lempaute trumpeted “time to move” and all headed out to browse again, Lesanju reluctantly following the others, having thoroughly enjoyed the red soil. They reached the Big Waterhole in the Park at 3 p.m. where they had fun, before slowly browsing their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

Lesanju down rolling in red soil

Lempaute

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