Keepers' Diaries, January 2013

Voi Reintegration Unit

The Junior Keeper Dependent Voi Unit orphans have also enjoyed a lot of interaction with the Ex Orphans under the Matriarchal leadership of Emily, Edie accompanied by their respective wild-born young, “Eve” and “Ella”, with Thoma, Mweya and Icholta the main go-betweens between the Ex Orphan unit and Lesanju’s Keeper Dependent group. Lesanju would rather not have her Leadership usurped by older Ex Orphans, so she usually tries to call her unit away with a low rumble, to which the girls react, but to which the older bulls are less responsive, (i.e. Layoni, Rombo, Shimba and Dabassa who like being slightly independent of the female unit.) The Ex Orphans, aside from wanting to keep in touch with the dependent group, whom they regard as “family”, are, of course, also eager to partake of the Copra cake supplementary handout each morning if they can.

01 January 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphan Unit often turn up in the morning, eager to take any older babies who would like to join the Senior Unit, even though Lesanju is not at all happy about that! Every time the Seniors come to mingle with the Juniors, Lesanju heads off, calling her peers with a low rumble which all obey except boys, Shimba, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni who prefer to be together and separated from the others. As Lesanju led the Juniors out this morning, Ex Orphan Thoma joined them, with Icholta and Mweya following at a distance. Soon all the Ex Orphans had caught up with the Juniors, so Lesanju called her group to climb higher up Mazinga hill, leaving some of the older ones browsing below with Emily’s group. At noon those who were milk dependent lined up as usual at the big waterhole, Ndii, Kenia, Kivuko and Dabassa being the first sitting, followed by Tassia and the others, while those already weaned off milk wallowed happily in the waterhole. The mudbath and dusting lasted about an hour.

02 January 2013

Having enjoyed their Copra Cake supplement and milk, the Juniors embarked on their Stockade games. Even Sinya, who is not fond of Pushing Games, engaged Mzima, while Tassia took on Taveta and Layoni took on Rombo. Lempaute rolled around on the ground with Ndii. Eventually, the Keepers and Lesanju led the group out to browse. After a brief noon wallow to cool themselves, the orphans browsed around the waterhole until it was time to return in the evening.

03 January 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphan group came early to the Stockades as the Juniors were emerging. Icholta played with Emily’s baby, “Eve” while Edie, Ndara and Laikipia scratched their bodies against the rocks. When Lesanju led her group away, little Panda went to join her zebra friend named “Lualeni”. It was a hot day, so the orphans began heading for the waterhole earlier than usual, leaving Shimba and Rombo at the hill, who came later to join the others for the mudbath.

04 January 2013

Emily’s group came early to the Stockades, happy to greet and mingle with the Juniors. Ex Orphan Seraa engaged Sinya in a Pushing Game which attracted Taveta who came in to back up Sinya. This irritated Seraa who grabbed him by the tail and extracted him. Meanwhile, Tassia, who was also on his way to also join in, saw Seraa with outspread ears, and took off at speed to join his friend, Taveta, leaving Seraa to engaged Sinya again. Ndii was running around the compound playfully, which attracted the attention of Edie, who approached her to interact, but Ndii declined to confront such a large opponent. The two groups headed out to browse together, and remained together as a large herd for about an hour before Emily led her unit off. However, they rejoined the Juniors at the noon mudbath.

05 January 2013

After a peaceful night, the Youngsters woke up in a jovial mood, Kivuko, Layoni, Dabassa and Emsaya rushing to the milk bottles, each wanting to be first. Kivuko and Dabassa, who do not usually get on well, happened to collide at the feeding point, so there was a score that had to be settled. Although Kivuko does not have tusks, she overpowered Dabassa, who is a screamer, so the Keepers came to intervene and bring matters back to normal! Emily and her Ex Orphan Unit arrived after the Juniors had already left, and having taken water, headed out to join them. There were rumbles and trumpets when the two units joined up. All fed together, and came to the noon mudbath together. All remained together until about 4 p.m. when Emily’s unit slipped away, and Lesanju and her group began to head slowly back home.

06 January 2013

The Ex Orphans did not turn up this morning, so the Juniors were able to enjoy their Copra handout without Senior competition. The day turned hot, so the Juniors browsed under shade wherever possible. All had a wonderful wallow after the milk feeds at noon, Rombo, Dabassa, Layoni and Tassia running around the mudhole splashing water while Wasessa and Emsaya sat in the mud, waving their trunks skywards as though praying for rain. Their prayers were answered by a light shower which made the orphans all very happy.

07 January 2013

On another lovely morning the orphans came running out of their Night Stockades to take their milk and supplements, Kenia escorting Layoni, towards whom she has a soft spot. The two browsed close together throughout the morning, and were together at the mudbath, soil dusting together and digging up the banks to loosen the soil. The day was cool after the rain shower, so a dustbath took over from the usual mudbath today. In the evening Ndii led the Juniors back.

08 January 2013

The orphans enjoyed their morning feed and Stockade games, which were interrupted by the arrival of the baboon troupe, who have become a nuisance around human habitation. The elephants, led by Tassia and Taveta, all charged the baboons, sending dust flying and tiny figures fleeing in all directions, some even retreating back up the hill from whence they had emerged! Later Wasessa and Sinya led the Juniors out to browse until Kenia and Rombo led the way to the mudbath. Later Mzima played a kicking game with a log he found lying in the grass, rolling it around which attracted Taveta, who joined in. Lempaute watched from a distance, and then threw grass over her back and began running around playfully until Ndii led the way back.

09 January 2013

Tassia and Taveta are the two most playful Juniors, who engaged one another after their breakfast while Kenia engaged her close friend, Ndii. After watching the fun and games, Panda wandered off to feed, lovingly accompanied by Wasessa who walked beside her with her trunk over the baby’s back. Out in the bush Lempaute, Kenia, Ndii and Kuvuko split from the rest of the herd to browse further up the hill. After the mudbath, on the way back home, Dabassa and Layoni charged the baboons who were heading back to Mazinga hill where they sleep, and who had to dodge the elephants by jumping over rocks and up trees!

10 January 2013

Shimba, who normally is always last in line, today headed the Juniors as they left to browse the slopes of the hill above the Research Centre, Lesanju following closely. During the browsing session Dabassa and Rombo enjoyed a Pushing Match and Wasessa took Emsaya to the shade of a big tree, and showed the baby how to loosen the soil at the base to throw over themselves. A lot of fun was had at the mudbath, Shimba using his tusks to loosen the banks while Tassia and Taveta enjoyed their usual Pushing Game. Eventually Wasessa decided it was time to resume feeding ahead of time to leave for the Stockades.

11 January 2013

As soon as the Juniors had finished their handout of Copra, Emsaya and Kivuko indulged in a Pushing Game which was interrupted when Wasessa came to rescue Emsaya. As usual Lesanju led her unit out to browse the eastern slopes of Mazinga hill. Kenia and Ndii led the youngsters to their milk venue at noon, after which all went to the waterhole. There Kivuko remembered that she still had a score to settle with Emsaya and knocked her down. Emsaya screamed, which brought Wasessa to the rescue, and saw Kivuko making herself as scarce as possible, hiding behind shrubbery for the rest of the day, knowing that there would be reprisal from Wasessa.

12 January 2013

The orphans browsed around the Malaika house waiting for the Keepers to finish their breakfast and accompany them out. There the group split into three. Lesanju led her group eastwards while Wasessa took her group further up the hill, leaving Rombo, Shimba and Layoni browsing near the fenceline. Tassia and Taveta led the group to the milk venue, and were first to take their milk ahead of Kenia, Ndii, Kivuko and Emsaya. Dabassa was last, running screaming, thinking he might have missed out! All enjoyed a lengthy wallow, because it was a hot day. Later the afternoon was largely spent under shade since it was too hot for any other activities.

13 January 2013

Stockade games today were a lot of fun, some engaged in Pushing Games, others scratched and rolled on the ground, while Rombo, Layoni and Shimba enjoyed the soft greens around the large enclosure. Ndii and Kivuko, who were busy chasing the baboons dashed in to grab a trunkful of Copra Cake before continuing the chase, joined now by Kenia. The three girls managed to keep the compound clear of the naughty primates, after which all followed the lead of Lesanju out to browse. During the mudbath Mzima engaged Tassia in a serious fight after Tassia tried to mount Kenia. Wasessa had to intervene to rescue Tassia, who had been head butted several times. Both boys avoided each other for the rest of the day.

14 January 2013

Shimba and Mzima began climbing up the hill while the other orphans fed on the eastern side of Mazinga hill. It was an extremely hot day, so the orphans all enjoyed the mudbath, Kivuko, Rombo, Ndii and Dabassa going into the deepest part and submerging themselves completely. Ndii took a quick dustbath before returning to join Kenia who was wallowing in one small corner. Tassia followed Ndii with the intention of again trying to mount her, but Kenia spotted him, and charged out to warn her friend. Dabassa was last one out as Lesanju began to walk towards a tree to rub her body, but came running back screaming, frightening all the others. The Keepers went to investigate and spotted a disappearing buffalo which Lesanju must have disturbed!

15 January 2013

After the usual morning routine, Lesanju led her unit to browse the western slopes of Mazinga hill where the orphans split into two groups, Wasessa and Lesanju taking eight up the hill while Lempaute, Kenya, Ndii, Kivuko and Shimba remained at the base. At noon the Keepers had to climb the hill to round up Lesanju’s eight, so that they could join the others for the noon milk and mudbath venue.

16 January 2013

After the Juniors’ morning feed, Panda began feeding in the bushes near the Malaika house. Her zebra friend, Lualeni, who was feeding on the opposite side, began running back passing by Panda in the process, which scared both, Panda unsure of why Lualeni was running, and Lualeni thinking she was being followed by something sinister! Panda stopped near the Staff Canteen and gave a rumble which was answered instantly by Wasessa and Lesanju who rushed to the rescue, comforting the baby by resting their trunks across her back. Having been reassured that she was O.K. they went to drink at the water trough before beading out to browse. Kenia led the Juniors out, while the Keepers escorted Panda back to browse around the Stockades. After a brief mudbath, the orphans resumed feeding for the rest of the day.

17 January 2013

After the usual Stockade games, Mzima and Sinya escorted little Panda to the big enclosure where she enjoys feeding. Lesanju led the orphans out, she and Mzima dispersing some male impalas on the way, soon joined by Tassia and Taveta, but too late, since the impalas had already jumped the fence! The two boys ran around looking for the intruders, but ended up chasing one another instead. After a brief noon mudbath, the orphans fed for the rest of the day.

18 January 2013

As soon as the orphans reached the eastern side of the hill today, Kivuko, Rombo, Mzima and Shimba began to climb up the hill, Shimba (the Chief Climber) conversant with every corner of the hill and where to find tasty tidbits. The other orphans went to the noon milk and mudbath venue as usual, but Shimba’s group remained up the hill until Kivuko and Rombo remembered their milk and came running down to get their share, leaving Shimba and Mzima up the hill, where they remained until late evening.

19 January 2013

On a lovely morning Lempaute noticed that Dabassa had fallen in the slippery ground near the Stockade mudbath where he had been playing with Ndii. Lempaute rushed to help him up. Later, Lualeni the Zebra scared all the elephants witless by running through them as they were finishing their Copra handout. All dispersed fearfully, trumpeting and screaming and had to be calmed by the Keepers who then led them out to browse. It was a hot day so all enjoyed the mudbath, especially Rombo who put on a brilliant display watched by all the others.

20 January 2013

Ndii, closely followed by Lesanju, led the orphans out this morning. At 9 a.m. all stopped browsing to watch a huge bull passing by, who lifted up his trunk and having scented the Keepers, flapped his ears in irritation and continued on his journey.

21 January 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphans came early to the Stockade compound to join the Juniors and share their supplements, where there was a lot of shoving and pushing, so Lesanju rumbled to her group to leave. Only little Panda was able to eat in peace on the other side of the electric wire. Edie and her calf, Ella, accompanied by Big Boy Laikipia went to drink as the others hovered up all the leftovers. Emily’s baby, Eve, rushed to scratch her body against the big rock near the trough, Emily watching over her during the process. The Ex Orphans then went to join the Juniors in the bush and browsed alongside them, joining up with another wild herd near the noon mudbath. In the evening Emsaya and Dabassa led the herd home, with Shimba trailing as usual.

22 January 2013

On a scorching hot day, Lesanju led her unit to the mudbath several times during the morning. At the milk venue, Ex Orphan Thoma came to check on he babies, un-noticed by Ndii and Taveta who downed their milk greedily and began to hurry to the mudbath, but noticed the presence of Thoma when they paused to grab a mouthful of greens. Nddi rumbled to warn Taveta who bellowed and headed towards the older Keeper dependent females. Tassia was uncomfortable by the presence of Thoma as was Lesanju, and when Tassia began to run off, Lesanju and the rest followed him, leaving Thoma on her own. She did not try to follow them.

23 January 2013

During a motorized routine patrol of the neighbourhood, the Keepers came across a small family of wild elephants quenching their thirst at one air releaser along the main Mombasa pipeline that runs through the Park. What attracted the attention of the Keepers was how the adults were so protective of the tiny calves, moving in circles to hide the two babies from view, no doubt recognizing the Keepers and fearful that they might snatch their calves! They were not aggressive, but determined not to let the Keepers see the babies! Having returned to their orphans, Kenia led the column to the milk and mudbath venue, but there was competition to lead from Dabassa, Layoni, Kivuko, Emsaya and Ndii, so all broke into a run leaving the Keepers way behind! Later all drank from the drums, Kenia moving to the furthest one to quench her thirst un-interupted. Rombo and Dabassa initiated the wallowing, followed by the others.

24 January 2013

Once the Orphans left for the bush, little Panda joined her zebra friend to browse around the Stockades and above the KWS Offices, knowing the area well. The weather was cool with light showers, which pleased the orphans, who, led by Lesanju, decided to walk the Park. The Keepers watched from a vantage point up the hill, but when the orphans kept on heading northwards, one Keeper remained up the hill to direct the others who began to trail the herd, eventually catching up with them. As soon as the orphans saw their Keepers, they screamed so loudly that the Keepers had to cover their ears! All then began running to the milk and mudbath venue, arriving all together, which made it difficult to feed them. The Keepers’ task was made easier by Layoni, Tassia, Kivuko and Taveta holding their own bottles, Tassia gulping his share down and then approaching Kivuko to try and snatch hers. Kivuko read his intentions, and ran off holding her bottle of milk! After the mudbath break, the orphans resumed feeding for what remained of the day.

25 January 2013

After the orphans had finished their morning routine, Lesanju led the group out to browse, Shimba and Rombo behind as usual, while little Panda moved towards her usual feeding place. Her swollen leg had healed and her condition had improved so much that the Keepers decided to try reuniting her with the herd. She ran to them when called, thinking it was milk time, and complained when we began leading her, looking over her shoulder every now and then. Once out in the field, she refused to join the other orphans, and browsed on her own apart from them. At around 11 a.m. the Keepers brought the other babies to where Panda was, and when they saw her, they rushed to greet her, rumbling a loving welcome, Lesanju and Wasessa sandwiching her between them. At noon they all moved to the feeding milk point, Kenia, Dabassa, Emsaya and Panda in the first sitting, with Rombo and Shimba coming last. All enjoyed the wallow, including Panda, who is still slower than the others, so will have a few more days in the yard. A hornbill who has hatched three babies at the Stockade yard, followed the milk car to the waterhole, and hung around the Keepers who threw her some of their rice. She and her husband normally enjoy leftovers from the Canteen along with insects from the wild for their young, but the pair have understood that the Keepers are their friends, and also a source of food!

26 January 2013

It was cooler today, so the orphans concentrated on browsing, with little waterhole activity. Lesanju took Kivuko and Shimba to browse alongside her during the afternoon. Taveta initiated a wrestling match near Kivuko, which broke up the close liaison between the trio.

27 January 2013

The Juniors met up with a wild herd out in the field. The wild Matriarch was very friendly towards our orphans, allowing them to play with age-mates in her herd. Tassia, Taveta, Dabassa and Layoni all found sparring partners, Tassia having a tough time to overcome his partner, who then tried to mount him, sending him off screaming. Taveta and his partner were having a wonderful time, pushing each other and intertwining trunks until Tassia ran between them, knocking the wild partner to the ground screaming, which brought the mother charging. Taveta took to his heels after Tassia, and Dabassa and Layoni also decided to exit the action. Lesanju summonsed all her unit back, and left the wild herd to their own devices.

28 January 2013

On a cloudy morning the orphans milled around the stockade, finished their milk and supplements, anxious to begin feeding while the temperature was conducive. As they were about to leave, Emily’s group arrived amidst trumpets and rumbles, and then went to check what was left of the supplements, Thoma, Icholta and Mweya inspecting the stables. Lesanju began to lead her unit out, but Thoma ran to stop them, herding the Juniors back, who were reluctant to return. Icholta noticed this and ran to prevent Thoma, instead leading the group off into the bush, all following her happily. Mweya noticed Wasessa browsing apart from the others, and ran to greet her, which sent Wasessa running after the others. Emily and her group then followed the Juniors, and browsed with them. Later Icholta remained with the Juniors who seemed to enjoy her company.

29 January 2013

Today Emily and her group came to the Stockades early in order to not miss the supplements, Thoma arriving first, followed by Mweya and then Sweet Sally and finally the rest of the Ex Orphan unit. They then hung around the waterhole waiting for the babies to be let out, Thoma going around the Stockades to check on them. The Keepers fed the babies their milk inside the Stockades, because the Ex Orphans still remember, Laikipia lifting his trunk up whenever he spots one of the milk bottles! Eventually the orphans began heading out, initially led by Emily who paused to allow Icholta and the others to lead the Juniors out, whilst she waited for the milk dependent ones to emerge. Once they were out, Emily shepherded them out to join the others, Panda and Lualeni, (the zebra), moving to feed in the tree garden near the Offices.

30 January 2013

Emily’s group were at the Stockades early to wake the babies. They gathered around the water trough to await daylight, Thoma doing the rounds of the Stockades to wake the orphans and wait beside the Gate for them to come out. When the Keeper opened it, she went in and herded the group out as though she had slept in there! After the usual supplements, they wandered off to browse the slopes of Mazinga hill and remained together until it was time for the Keepers to call the milk dependent orphans. Emily headed to the mudwallow and after having taken milk, the babies had a wonderful wallow with their Senior peers, after which Emily led her group away, leaving Lesanju to do the same with hers!

31 January 2013

Kenia led the Juniors to their milk venue at noon, Kivuko, Layoni, Taveta, Tassia and Rombo all holding their own bottles leaving Ndii and Kenia to be fed by the Keepers. They never shove and push at milk feeding times, like the others, and are very obedient to their Keepers. Emily and the Ex Orphan unit linked up with the Juniors during the afternoon out in the field and remained with them until it was time for the Juniors to return in the evening. Others:- A pair of hornbills have a nest at the Voi Stockades where they have raised 3 chicks, and enjoyed handouts from the Staff canteen. Having emerged from the nest, the female follows Joseph Sauni’s car to the milk and mudbath venue each day, where the Keepers take their lunch and throw Mrs. Hornbill some of their rice! The Hornbills have accepted the Keepers as friends and benefactors, and are totally unafraid of them!