Keepers' Diaries, January 2014

Voi Reintegration Unit

The month began with the Voi Keepers being called upon to rescue a the snared orphan named “Sagalla” from a ranch of that name adjoining the Park, and holding her overnight until the Rescue Plane could be mobilized the next morning to airlift the newcomer back to the Nairobi Nursery.

01 January 2014

After the usual morning supplements, it was games as usual for the Voi Keeper dependent orphans, Tassia and Dabassa enjoying a wrestling game until Lesanju signaled that it was time to move out to browse, all trailing her in a straight line heading to the northern side of Mazinga hill. At the noon mudbath, the Juniors were joined by Emily’s Ex Orphan Unit. Ex Orphans Lolokwe and Icholta gave a good demonstration of how to enjoy the water, watched by all the Juniors. Ex Orphan Ndara then escorted Lesanju, Sinya, Kenia and Ndii for a dustbath, after which the Ex Orphan herd began moving off towards the Voi River, Junior boy Mzima following them for a while until he had second thoughts, and turned back to join his Junior peers. In the evening the Keepers were involved in the rescue of the snared calf from Sagalla Ranch. She spent the night at the Voi Stockades since it was too late for the plane to come from Nairobi that day.

02 January 2014

Panda, Ishaq-B and Mbirikani were first to rush and greet the new calf as soon as the orphans emerged from their Night Stockades, soon followed by all the others who extended their trunks to stroke and comfort the new baby. As soon as the Rescue Plane arrived from Nairobi, the new calf was loaded and on her way back to the Nursery. Soon after the Juniors had left, Emily’s Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockades, accompanied by 2 huge Bulls who were trailing Sweet Sally. She sought refuge from them in one of the Stables, the Bulls being too large to go in after her! Emily’s group hung around the Stockades for a good hour before leaving, the bulls still with an eye on poor Sally! Out in the field, the Keepers were intrigued by an unusual zebra who, instead of having the usual stripes, instead had black and white round dots!

03 January 2014

The day progressed as usual, until Emily’s Ex Orphans turned up to join the Juniors out in the field. Layoni enjoyed playing with Emily’s wild-born calf, Eve, until it was time for the mudbath, where Sweet Sally and Morani put on a good show. Ex Orphan Mweya supervised Lesanju at the dustbath and when the Ex Orphans began moving off, Thoma and Seraa did their best to try and take Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B off with them, pushing them slowly to the front of their column, but the Keepers called the Junior trio back. Thereafter Thoma and Seraa hung around the Junior group for a while, before leaving to catch up with the rest of the Ex Orphan unit, who were heading towards the Voi River.

04 January 2014

This morning Tassia decided to take on Kihari, who is much smaller than him, so Dabassa intervened to replace Kihari. Once out in the field, Kihari, Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Mbirikani separated themselves to browse apart from the others and were first at the noon milk venue. Having taken her share, Ishaq-B then washed her mouth with water from the drinking bins, and returned to the milk venue, hoping that the Keepers would not notice that she had already had her share! Unhappily, her trick did not work, because the Keepers were aware! After the mudbath, all browsed their way back home.

05 January 2014

After a game of hide and seek at the compound, the orphans settled down to seriously browse, Wasessa taking possession of little Mudanda, currently her favourite, almost knocking down Ndii in the process. At the mudbath, Kenia approached Mudanda, to which Wasessa objected, and went for Kenia which prompted the Keepers to intervene, fearing that Kenia might be hurt. The final browsing session of the day saw all the Juniors avoiding Wasessa who kept Mudanda close.

06 January 2014

Once out in the field, the orphans came across the resident impala, with whom Taveta and Rombo decided to have fun. They charged the antelopes, who merely leapt around avoiding them, leaving them stranded not knowing which way to turn! Meanwhile Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B left the boys to it, and went to browse further away. After the Juniors had left, the Ex Orphans turned up in search of them eventually meeting up with them out in the bush. They browsed in amongst them for most of the morning, until it was mudbath time when the Juniors peeled off, leaving the Ex Orphans. At the wallow Rombo put on a spectacular display, and in the evening it was Naipoki who led the way back home.

07 January 2014

Today, the Juniors browsed very close to a wild herd, but had no inclination to join them, perhaps because the wild elephants were not overly friendly. Naipoki and Kihari led the way to the new mudbath venue, where all enjoyed cooling off, Rombo putting on a particularly spectacular display, which was copied by Panda while Mudanda remained close to Wasessa. Lempaute led the wallowers to a dustbath, and then Sinya took over, heading back towards where they had left the wild herd, who had moved off. The remaining afternoon was spent browsing, disturbed only by the Quelea, who kept flying past the elephants, and this irritated Tassia, who tried to charge them but without success!

08 January 2014

Lualeni, (the orphaned zebra) came to join the Juniors first thing in the morning. After the usual Stockade games, Ndii led the herd out to browse, overtaken by Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B who enjoy being the leaders. However, they ran into a Klipspringer and with loud screams and trumpets they rushed back to the others, who in turn rushed back to the Keepers! Tassia, Taveta, Rombo and Dabassa then decided to turn the retreat into a bush-bashing threat, in the process all ending up back at the Stockades where the Keepers calmed them down, and re-started the journey out again, this time with a Keeper leading!

09 January 2014

Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B led the Juniors out to the slopes of Mazinga Hill, but since it was a very hot day, Lesanju took over and steered the group to browse under shade. Again, the quelea were active, irritating Tassia who flapped his ears and trumpeted at them whenever they flew close. As usual Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B were first at the milk venue, soon joined by Panda, Mudanda and Mbirikani. The younger elephants then went to the drinking bins, and began splashing themselves to cool down, but the Keepers restrained them, since the older elephants had not yet quenched their thirst. Instead, the Youngsters were steered to the mudbath, jumping in to wallow energetically. Lesanju then brought the older group in to drink from the bins, and join the Juniors in the wallow, Mbirikani, (whose snared foot is still sensitive) exiting the wallow when the others went in. In the afternoon they slowly browsed their slowly way back to the Stockades.

10 January 2014

Lualeni the zebra decided to browse amongst the resident impala herd today, but returned to the Stockade when it turned too hot. The Orphans browsed quietly all day with less activity for games, until Tassia and Layoni engaged one another on the way back to the Stockades in the evening, and this prompted Naipoki to challenge little Mudanda, carefully overseen by Wasessa.

11 January 2014

Emily and the Ex Orphans turned up to usurp the supplement handout today, pushing the Juniors aside. Dabassa plucked up sufficient courage to squeeze past Emily, Icholta and Sweet Sally to access the handout, but Emily shoved him aside. Ex Orphans Mweya, Icholta and Thoma then began trying to snatch little Mudanda from Wasessa, who in an effort to dodge them took Mudanda to the Keepers near the fenceline, screaming loudly for help to chase the would-be Snatchers off! Wasessa then went to Lesanju and after a moment of standing together, they led their group away, leaving the Ex Orphans finishing off the supplements. Layoni and Naipoki found themselves left behind, since Layoni was on the other side of the Big Elephants, and Naipoki was busy learning some pushing tricks from the Big Ex Orphan Boy, Laikipia. An energetic mudbath followed after the milk dependent babies had taken their milk at noon, Mzima and Dabassa emerging as the main wallowers while Lesanju supervised the dusting session afterwards.

12 January 2014

The Ex Orphans turned up early today, monopolizing the supplements, so the Juniors were fed their milk in their respective Stockades, which was not ideal due to a lot of shoving and pushing. Once they had taken their milk, and had some supplements, also in the Stockades, Lesanju led her unit out without pausing to greet the Ex Orphans. Meanwhile, the Ex Orphans hung around, Eve suckling Emily. The Juniors browsed until mudbath time, when they all enjoyed a cooling wallow. Kenia led them back to the Stockades in the evening.

13 January 2014

The Ex Orphans were back at the Stockades early again, joining the Juniors to drink from the Stockade trough. The Juniors then left, Wasessa and Lesanju leading. It was a cool day, which suited them well, so the milk Van took the milk out to them in the bush, the babies rushing to meet it as soon as they heard it coming. Having downed their milk, they rejoined the others browsing and took only a brief wallow today, before Lesanju led them back to the hill to browse, taking advantage of the cooler weather.

14 January 2014

The Ex Orphans turned up at the stockades again, this time with Ndara leading and after the Juniors had already left for the field. Having quenched their thirst, Thoma and Seraa embarked on a test of strength in which Thoma was victorious while Morani was busy with Lolokwe who climbed a rock to try and gain some advantage over Morani. However, Laikipia intervened which prompted Morani and Lolokwe to run off and abandon the game, followed by the other Ex Orphans. Meanwhile, the Juniors enjoyed their wallow, and returned to browse the hill afterwards until it was time to return in the evening.

15 January 2014

Again led by Ndara, the Ex Orphans came to the Stockades to drink from the trough, where there was a bit of shoving and pushing between Laikipia, Lolokwe and Irima, each trying to find space to drink since Laikipia was blocking the trough. Later the Icholta led the Ex Orphans in search of the Juniors, meeting up with them at the base of Mazinga Hill. After greetings, Emily led her unit off, followed by Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Kihari, whom Lesanju had difficulty rounding up to bring back. Naipoki is the main culprit, who always wants to run and join either wild elephants, or the Ex Orphans, taking Kihari and Ishaq-B along as well, since the Nairobi trio are very close. Lesanju allowed Naipoki to lead the way back in the evening, when Ex Orphan Irima appeared unexpectedly and began engaging Mzima in a wrestling match which lasted until they ended up at the Stockades and Mzima went in for the night. Irima then headed off back into the bush.

16 January 2014

Emily’s Ex Orphans came again to drink at the Stockades, exchanging greetings with the Juniors. Mzima was very happy to see his friend Irima again and the two moved aside to resume yesterday’s wrestling match. Meanwhile, Wasessa and Lesanju were not happy, fearing that Thoma, Icholta and Mweya might target little Mudanda again whom they were guarding carefully. They decided to head out, but the Ex Orphans followed them, Icholta hot on the heels of Wasessa and Mudanda until, fortunately, Emily changed direction suddenly, which was a relief for Lesanju and Wasessa. Whilst taking her milk at noon, Kihari downed hers quickly and then tried to snatch that of Ishaq-B, knocking the milk out of the Keeper’s hand. Ishaq-B screamed for help, and Kihari took to her heels, also screaming, aware that she had misbehaved. On the way to the mudbath, the orphans came across Zebra Lualeni who had followed the milk truck.

17 January 2014

Today, the Keepers had a very difficult time because Naipoki, Kihari and Ishaq-B ran after a wild herd, who began to flee when they spotted the Keepers. Tassia and Dabassa raced after the trio, doing their best to stop them, but although the wild Matriarch did not welcome them, they managed to squeeze themselves into the midst of the wild herd, Dabassa still in pursuit. After sometime Dabassa succeeded in separating the three, but they refused to follow him back, so he ended up returning alone after about 2 hours while the Keepers were still busy combing the bushes trying to find Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Kihari. In the end, they called on the help of the Trust’s plane, who spotted the three truants near another wild herd on the Lugards Falls road. It took the Keepers another 3 hours to round up the Ex Nairobi orphans and bring them back to the Stockades for the night.

18 January 2014

Compared to the drama of yesterday, the day passed peacefully, with all the orphans browsing quietly, Layoni and Mzima browsing apart from the others until time for the mudbath, where Rombo and Kivuko teamed up as wallowing partners. This was unusual, because Kivuko has never had much time for Rombo.

19 January 2014

A wild herd was browsing the base of Mazinga Hill today but when the orphans appeared with the Keepers, the wild elephants fled. The Juniors were proud, believing they had sent the wild herd packing. They embarked on a spirited display of Bush Bashing to celebrate, Tassia and Dabassa pretending to be in pursuit of the wild elephants but only for a short distance, before turning back! After the mudbath, Lempaute, Mzima and Wasessa enjoyed sliding up and down the pile of red soil and it was Ishaq-B who led the Junior herd back in the evening.

20 January 2014

Today, the 3 big girls, Lempaute, Lesanju and Wasessa jointly paid Mudanda a great deal of attention, sharing her amicably. Out in the field, the Juniors were joined by, and welcomed into their midst, a teenaged wild elephant female. The wild visitor even shared the orphans’ mudbath and only left them when they neared the Stockades in the evening.

21 January 2014

The Juniors browsed their way from the eastern side of the hill to the mudbath on a cool day, and were not overeager to take a mudbath until Sinya, who normally is not fond of water, jumped in, inviting the others to follow. On the way home Tassia engaged his friend Dabassa in a wrestling match which saw them left way behind all the others and having to run to catch up.

22 January 2014

Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B assisted by Mbirikani and Ndii, managed to corner Lualeni, the zebra, whilst chasing him around the Stockades. Lualeni shot underneath the electric separator in order to escape, leaving his pursuers perplexed! Out in the field Wasessa took Layoni and Mudanda half way up Mazinga Hill to browse, coming down only when it was time to head to the mudbath. There Kivuko had an altercation with Dabassa who tried to snatch her milk bottle.

23 January 2014

After the usual morning routine, Layoni led the Juniors up the hill above the Malaika house, Mbirikani surprising the Keepers by proving the best climber, despite the tenderness of her snared foot. She and Layoni went to the top of the hill, and didn’t even bother coming down for their milk at noon. In fact, the Keepers had to climb the hill as darkness approached to persuade Layoni and Mbirikani to come back down! There is a lot of browse up the hill, plus a nice cool breeze, so it was obviously the preferred spot of the two to spend the day!

24 January 2014

Naipoki, Kihari, Ishaq-B, Mbirikani, Panda and Mudanda had their milk first after which Ndii and Dabassa decided to chase some monkeys who were playing around the milk truck. Mudanda wanted to join them, but Wasessa had other ideas and escorted her and Panda to the carpark instead. Having enjoyed their supplements Lesanju led her herd out to browse near the new waterhole, where they took a bath later, before heading to the hill for the remainder of the day.

25 January 2014

As usual, the orphans did the best to disperse the baboons, who are troublesome every morning around the supplements, Dabassa and Layoni leading the charge backed up by Ndii, Kivuko, Kenia, Rombo, Panda and Taveta while the older orphans tucked into the supplements. A Film Crew were in attendance today, so Head Keeper Joseph Sauni and Sinya jointly led the orphans out to browse the slopes of Mazinga hill. At 11 a.m. the Film Crew followed the orphans to the mudwallow, where they young ones took their milk first before rushing into the wallow. The older elephants followed, which excited the youngsters, who ran out to join them at the drinking bins, before all returning to the wallow, where Dabassa and Rombo put on a good show for the camera. When Lempaute noticed the camera pointing at her, she, too, went to great lengths to keep the attention of the Cameraman! On the way back to the Stockades at about 4 p.m. Mbirikani and Layoni went to greet a friendly wild herd whom they met on the way, and were welcomed by the Matriarch. During the night the Trust’s Ziwani De-Snaring team brought an orphaned baby zebra to us whose mother had been killed by a lion.

26 January 2014

Zebra orphan Lualeni was introduced to the new baby zebra this morning, whom the Keepers have named “Ngulia”. However, Lualeni was not accommodating, and merely tried to kick and bite the new baby, so he was expelled! Wasessa caused a stir this morning by trying to chase all the young elephants off the supplement hand-out. In the process, Dabassa accidentally barged into Mbirikani which made her yell, and that brought Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya hurriedly to the rescue. Noticing that Lempaute was still after Rombo, without hesitation Lempaute went after her, catching up with her and clamping her tail between her teeth, Wasessa bellowing for help, which was not forthcoming! The Keepers were happy to see Wasessa, who is inclined to be a bully, disciplined. When Lempaute finally released her, Wasessa ran off further not daring to return to the supplements, which were being enjoyed by all the others. Even on the way out to browse, Wasessa trailed behind the herd, and throughout the morning kept a wary eye out for Lempaute in case she had not yet been forgiven. The rest of the day passed peacefully.

27 January 2014

Today, Wasessa behaved impeccably at the supplement feeding, after which Layoni and Dabassa enjoyed a wrestle, as did Rombo and Tassia and even Mbirikani who enjoyed pushing her best friend, Panda. Meanwhile, the three orphans from Nairobi moved off and played amongst themselves while Kivuko played with Mudanda, overseen by Wasessa. Taveta did his best to defeat Big Boy Mzima, but was defeated. Lesanju then rounded them up, and they settled behind Mazinga hill to browse, Kihari, Ishaq-B, Naipoki, Dabassa and Tassia separating themselves to feed apart. However, the separation did not last long, because they suddenly bolted back towards the others bellowing, having been scared by something in the bush. Meanwhile Wasessa, Lesanju, Sinya and Lempaute were rushing to find out what was amiss, and their approach through the thicket further scared Naipoki who did a U-turn and ran even faster in the direction from which she and the others had come. This in turn forced the older elephants to increase their speed, making things from bad to worse. Meanwhile, the Keepers were calling the orphans back, at the top of their voices in an attempt to bring things back under control, leaving everyone totally worn out!

28 January 2014

Due to a lot of shoving and pushing over the Copra handout, the smaller elephants are now let out ahead of the older ones each morning, so that they can enjoy their supplements in peace, Kenia and Ndii making sure that naughty boys such as Layoni, Dabassa and Rombo do not push the smaller girls around. When the Keepers are satisfied that the younger elephants had their share, the older elephants are let out to enjoy theirs. Today Lesanju, as usual, led them out to browse the slopes of Mazinga Hill where there is still a lot of long grass and unlike yesterday, the feeding was without incident. The Keepers rounded up the milk dependent youngsters at noon, but Mudanda deciding to remain with the older elephants and by the time she and the older orphans arrived at the mudwallow the younger ones were already enjoying an after wallow dustbath.

29 January 2014

After the usual handout, Kivuko and Layoni held centre stage, which surprised the Keepers, since Kivuko has never been fond of the Junior boys such as Layoni, Dabassa and Rombo. The game lasted 20 minutes until Lesanju signaled that it was time to head out, after which the day progressed as usual. In the evening Kivuko engaged Rombo, which again was unusual, because these two are usually sworn enemies. The fact that Kivuko is now play-pushing with the Junior boys means that she is becoming more tolerant of them.

30 January 2014

Naipoki and Kihari led the orphans out today, bypassing Mazinga Hill as though on a quest for wild herds, the Keepers watching from a distance to see how far the young ones intended to go. Eventually, Lesanju took matters in hand by rushing to the front to block Naipoki’s way. She then began browsing without allowing any of her unit to bypass her and only when all were settled and browsing peacefully, did she relax. At noon the milk dependent orphans were led to the new mudwallow venue, and having had their milk, enjoyed a mud and dustbath until the older elephants turned up. All had fun at the mudbath today, and after the dustbath browsed under shade until the temperatures dropped, and it was time to browse their way back home.

31 January 2014

Ndii supervised the small elephants as they took their morning supplements, until the older elephants were let out, when Wasessa took over custody of Mudanda. Sinya led the unit out today, heading for Mazinga hill, weaving their way around the rocks until they reached some nice grasses. Even impala rams chasing one another around did not scare the orphans today, Tassia, Rombo, Dabassa and Taveta who normally like charging the impalas, simply ignoring them. At about 10.30 a.m. Kenia began leading the milk dependent babies to the milk venue, after which Kihari, Naipoki and Ndii were first to jump into the wallow with Dabassa, Rombo, Naipoki, Kenia and Mzima following, but today it was Kenia and Mzima who monopolized the show. After the mudbath, the afternoon was spent browsing until it was time to head back home.