Keepers' Diaries, January 2016

Voi Reintegration Unit

For the Voi orphans January was a joyful month, with some changes in the herd dynamics and Lesanju’s older group becoming more independent, spending protracted times away from the stockades and the Keepers. Emily’s herd provides the base for this group, always embracing them, and introducing them to the ways of the wild, imparting knowledge they have gained over the years not only from their own experience, but from what they have been taught by wild herds with whom they have interacted. The composition of Emily’s herd changes, but present in January besides Emily and her two wild born babies Eve and Emma, there was Edie and her two wild born babies, Ella and Eden; Sweet Sally with her wild born baby, Safi; Icholta, Mweya, Thoma, Ndara, Irima, Seraa, Laikipia, Moran, Lolokwe, Siria and a wild bull that has remained with them throughout the month.

01 January 2016

It was a wonderful beginning of the year with the orphans in both Panda and Kenia’s herd welcoming New Year with a brief game of hide and seek in the stockade compound after having their milk. Lentili, who has been practicing her leadership role, took the lead of taking all the others towards the browsing grounds. Emily and Lesanju’s herd arrived and remained, drinking and relaxing in the stockade for half an hour. Mweya seemed to have her own mission of searching for the juniors and started following in the direction they left the stockade that morning. Mweya was followed closely by another wild elephant bull that seems to have been newly recruited in the ex-orphan herd this New Year. The ex-orphans went browsing onto the northern side of the stockade visiting both the middle and the big water holes without much success in locating the juniors. The juniors were browsing half way around the hill and only went to the middle water hole at noon for milk, missing the ex-orphans. They spent the rest of the day browsing close to that water pool, before leaving to go back to the stockade that evening.

02 January 2016

It was a beautiful morning with clouds drifting up giving way to some bright sun shine as the orphans came out of their stables to drink their milk before assembling to eat some copra cake. Emily and Lesanju’s herd didn’t turn up this morning and the juniors left to go to the browsing grounds. As soon after they arrived Arruba and Suswa teamed up in their friendly browsing team, a short distance from the rest of the orphans. Mashariki, Rorogoi, Embu and Elkerama followed behind Lentili in browsing, while Kenia and Ndii controlled the rest of the orphans. They later congregated a few minutes to noon in preparation of heading to the noon mud bath. Nelion and Bada suddenly engaged each other in a head on fight. We thought it might be a way of ascertaining their position among the bulls, as they are the oldest after Layoni, Rombo, Mzima and Dabassa have become more independent with Lesanju’s herd. The two of them were left behind by the others who went to the middle water hole for a bath, but they later caught up with them and came charging into the water hole.

03 January 2016

The morning was good with the orphans coming out in happy, playful mood, enjoying some games in the stockade compound before following Ndii and Lentili to the browsing grounds. It was the second day that Emily and Lesanju’s herd didn’t turn up in to the stockades but they were sited browsing on the far eastern side of the hill later in the day. The juniors browsed wonderfully in the bush with the main action taking place in some mud bathing games after milk feeding. There was a tough bathing competition between Mudanda and Mashariki who took that as their most important task of the day. Mbirikani was sitting and rubbing her buttocks on the walls to challenge the two in their bathing styles, as Ndii did the same by extravagantly digging soil with her one tusk to bathe in it. Today’s bathing took a considerable amount of time, and they all made sure they were fully satisfied with this bath before they left again to go and browse. Kihari and Ishaq B then took the lead guiding the herd towards the air strip, turning and arriving on time in the stockade that evening.

04 January 2016

It was a wonderful morning with Emily’s herd arriving at the stockade compound together with Lesanju’s herd who are becoming increasingly independent. The arriving ex orphans just missed the juniors who left a little before their arrival. Today two wild bulls, one of which has a chopped trunk and is an old friend of Emily’s herd were among the visitors. Absent from the group was Laikipia. The group had a drink at the stockade water trough before relaxing at the compound for about half an hour after which they headed back to the park. The juniors spent the morning browsing before heading to the middle water hole later in the day where they enjoyed their milk bottles. Ishaq-B and Bada then sat at opposite ends of the mudwallow and enjoyed a buttock scratch, seemingly in competition with one another. Kihari and Rorogoi waited for the two to finish their scratching game before they all joined the rest of the group who were busy browsing nearby. Embu and Araba led the orphan herd back to the safety of the stockades in the evening.

05 January 2016

It was a perfect morning with Emily’s herd arriving in the company of their two wild friends before the orphans had even left their stockades. Once again Laikipia was not with them and the ex orphan group rumbled their greeting to the babies as they passed by their stockades to get to the water trough to have a drink. Emily and Lesanju’s herd visited for a brief while and left before the babies had exited their stockades and had their milk bottle. The orphan group gulped down their milk and rushed off, led by Kenia, to try and catch up with the ex orphan group so that they could spend some time with them but were unable to do so and instead settled to browse on the northern side of the stockade. On their way to the waterhole for the midday mudbath and feed the group spotted Laikipia who seemed to be looking for the ex-orphan herd, and was headed towards the Voi River. As such he did not join the orphan group who continued in the direction they were headed.

06 January 2016

It was a nice morning with the juniors in both Kenia and Panda’s herd congregating outside their stockades for their morning milk bottle followed by some copra cake after which Lentili led them all to the browsing fields. Mudanda and Bada seem to be very well settled with Ndii and Naipoki since realizing that Wasessa has reintegrated back to the wild by joining Emily’s herd and it seems that for the time being she has no plans to rejoin the junior group. Ndii, Kenia and Naipoki have taken on the responsibility of consolidating the junior herd into a large group all of which is being led by Lentili who is thoroughly enjoying having a matriarch role. About two hours after the orphans had left the stockades Emily’s herd visited quenching their thirst at the water trough before heading towards the Mzima-Mombasa water pipe line. The juniors on the other hand were busy browsing their way to the water pool and seemed to make a quick turnaround heading towards the eastern side of the park where they met up with and interacted with the ex-orphan herd. Rorogoi, Arruba, Suswa, Mashariki Embu and Elkerama tried as much as possible to not get too involved with the ex orphans making it easy for Kenia to keep them separate from Emily and Lesanju’s groups. Ndii, Ndoria, Naipoki and Ishaq-B were busy following Safi, Emma and Eden. Wasessa seems to have completely ignored her babies Mudanda and Bada not that she has the three little ones to Nanny. The ex-orphans only had a brief moment with the wild babies, before Ndii brought the remaining junior group to join Kenia and the babies.

07 January 2016

It was a lovely morning as the orphans happily exited their stockades headed for their morning milk feed followed by the daily supplements of copra cake and Lucerne. The morning was spent browsing peacefully with Arruba and Suswa feeding together while Nelion and Elkerama seemed to want to explore a bit and separated themselves from the rest of the group, rejoining them when it was time to head to the waterhole. Ndii made sure to keep close to Mudanda and Bada both of whom she has taken under her wing since Wasessa’s departure from the group. In the afternoon the orphans made their way to the big mudwallow where they had a lovely time bathing and showing off their swimming and wallowing abilities. Ndoria tends to be pushy and greedy when it is feeding time and as such can often be seen on her own. Today however Kenia spent the day with Ndoria and the two enjoyed both a mudbath and dustbath in each other’s company. The remainder of the afternoon was spent browsing near the waterhole before heading back to the stockades for the night.

08 January 2016

It was a wonderful morning as the orphans played games at the stockade compound before heading out for the day to the browsing fields. An hour after their departure the ex orphan herd came to the stockades together with Laikipia who was the only bull in the group. Laikipia seemed to be in a playful mood and climbed into the stockade water trough standing there calmly while the ex-orphans crowded round and Lesanju’s herd touched and stroked him in a worshiping way. A little while later the group left the stockade and headed towards the park. Sadly they did not meet up with the junior group who were browsing in a different area.

09 January 2016

It was a beautiful morning as the orphans left the stockades under Lentili and Naipoki’s leadership. Once at the browsing grounds Ndii was followed by Mudanda and Bada who since Wasessa’s departure have been a little lost and have turned to Ndii for comfort and leadership as well as “mothering”. The orphans browsed their way to the big water pool in the afternoon, and later enjoyed spending the rest of the day feeding on some tall green grass that they found in the area. Laikipia came to the stockades on his own in the afternoon where he enjoyed a clean drink from the stockade water trough before once again climbing in with both front feet. He only spent a short while at the stockade before heading around Mazinga Hill to the water pipeline where he hoped to find the other ex-orphans browsing so that he could join up with them.

10 January 2016

The day started well with the orphans leaving the stockade at 6am to start the days browsing on the foot of Msinga hill at the Northern side of the stockade establishment. Rorogoi, Arruba, Embu and Elkerama followed Mbirikani, Naipoki and Nelion who climbed half way up the hill before settling down to feed. Kenia and Ndii were happy to remain at the bottom of the hill with the rest of the orphan group. Noon came quickly and the orphans gathered together so that they could make their way to the waterhole. Ndoria took the lead of the first group comprised of Arruba, Embu, Suswa and Elkerama. The group seemed to be in a competition and were busy running to see who would be first to get to the milk bottles and thus be the first to get fed while the others lagging behind would have to wait their turn coming in groups of four until each of the twenty milk dependent orphans had received their share. After the milk feed the orphans engaged in games at the waterhole. Ndoria, Bada and Ishaq-B were busy showing Arruba, Araba and Embu their swimming skills as they swam and played in the water pool. Suswa and Tundani stood by watching them as they all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was not long before Ndii and Kenia joined in and began striking the surface of the water with their trunks thus successfully splashing all other orphans that were in the pool. Suswa later became a little rough and tried to ride on Ndoria’s back. Ndoria was not happy about this and ran out of the water screaming, her cries brought the rest of the orphans out of the water to see what all the fuss was about. The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing nearby.

11 January 2016

Emily’s herd visited the stockade early this morning before the junior orphans came out of their stockades. After drinking from the stockade water trough, Emily and Sweet Sally went to stand close to Ndii and Kenia’s stockade, watching them from the outside. Emma and Safi were suckling from their mothers there and Ndii and Kenia were watching with amazement from inside their stockades. Mweya and Thoma enjoyed their time scratching on some rocks in the stockade compound with Ndara feasting close by on some acacia branches. They later went off together with Lesanju’s herd, leaving the juniors alone when they came out for their milk feeding session. The junior orphans followed them but unfortunately did not catch up with them as they had walked at a fast pace towards the Voi River. During milk feeding at noon, Ndoria came in demanding Araba and Tundani’s milk bottles after finishing hers. The keepers stood guard to prevent her from pushing the two as she stood biting her trunk in anger, waiting for the two to finish their milk bottle so that she could vent her frustration on them. The rest of the browsing day went on perfectly well however, after a wonderful noon mud bath. Embu and Elkerama enjoyed leading the herd back to the stockade that evening.

12 January 2016

Early in the morning, as the keepers were busy preparing the morning milk bottles, Kenia, Ndii and Kihari became impatient and started rumbling. Mbirikani received several bumps as they hit her on her buttocks and pushed her towards the door to give the keepers a warning that they wanted their milk bottles faster. The milk was ready well on time and the four were given the first priority to come out of their stockade for their bottles. The others then followed in close intervals, all enjoying their delicious milk bottles. The orphans then engaged in some games in the stockade compound with Suswa and Elkerama enjoying a wonderful time scratching on the outcrop of rocks. Kenia and Ndii went with little Araba back to her stable and started playing with water in the half barrel drums there, fetching and tossing it skyward with their trunks. Upon coming out Lentili, Ishaq B and Naipoki had started out towards the main park to begin their day of browsing. The orphans then visited the big water pool where they had a lot of fun in mud bathing games. They then browsed their way towards the air strip, turned back and returned to the safety of the stockade that evening under the leadership of Suswa and Arruba.

13 January 2016

The orphans came out of their stables as early as 6am this morning, drinking a morning milk bottle; Tundani and Nelion were the first to come out when the gate of their stable was flung open. They didn’t play any games in the stockade compound today and instead started their journey for the browsing grounds. Later, around midday, Emily’s herd in the company of four wild elephant bulls joined the juniors in browsing. Lesanju’s herd was with them as well. The juniors and especially Mudanda and Bada were extra exited to meet Wasessa and had a wonderful time browsing with her. Sinya brought Eden to greet Bada and Ndii who were very happy talking to the soft little baby. Edie also followed them, extending her trunk in greeting to Bada to acknowledge her greeting to Eden. Suswa, Arruba, Rorogoi and Elkerama were very comfortable mixing freely with the ex-orphan herd today, but Mashariki and Embu were slightly more cautious with their interaction. They browsed together for an hour before the juniors became uncomfortable when one teenage wild elephant bull started to mount on Lempaute. Kenia and Ndii seized the opportunity to pull their herd away from the ex-orphans which they did with ease. Another wild elephant bull tried to take Bada and Araba with him, and the keeper’s intervened to call them back.

14 January 2016

The juniors in both Kenia and Panda’s herd enjoyed hosting the ex-orphans in browsing for over an hour yesterday and it was there pleasure today to have left the stockade early enough to try their luck in locating them again. Ndii took the lead and her sole intention was to meet with the three little babies Emma, Eden and Safi again. For over 2 hours this morning their mission seemed to be searching for the ex-orphans. They later settled down to browse however and then visit the middle water hole that was closest to them this afternoon; they had a lot of fun in mud bathing games. The ex-orphan herd together with Lesanju’s herd visited the stockade this afternoon. They drank water and stayed only briefly perhaps with the intention of trying to catch up with the juniors; but Sweet Sally, Thoma and Seraa led them away soon after they had finished. The four wild elephants were not present today, leaving Laikipia and Moran to boast as the resident bulls. The ex-orphans didn’t catch up with the juniors for the rest of the day.

15 January 2016

The orphans had their wonderful moment in the morning with Elkerama, Nelion and Tundani showing some interest in browsing up the Msinga hill when they left the stockade in the morning. The three were scared down hill by some klipspringers that were chasing one another. They then joined the rest in browsing close to the hill for the better half of this day. Suswa and Aruba attempted to separate themselves from the rest in browsing but the others kept on following each and every movement they made hence settling with them at long last. Later on that day Emily and Lesanju herds were sited browsing on the far northern side of Msinga hill. They were seen taking some refuge from the scorching sun burn under different trees between their browsing grounds. The ex-orphans and Lesanju herd were very far away so never caught up with the juniors this day.

16 January 2016

A nice and calm morning it was today and Lentili was the perfect leader in both leaving the stockade and throughout the days browsing activities. The orphans browsed their way to the eastern and northern side of the hill, finally arriving at the big water pool well in time for their milk feeding. This water pool has been replenished by the keepers on a daily basis, so its water content is topped up for both the orphans, ex-orphans and the wild animals in the area. The orphans went to take their afternoon milk bottle in three groups, the first led by Mashariki, the second led by Naipoki who arrived running and who fed peacefully, leaving space to allow the rest behind them to enjoy their share. The final and last group was comprised of Kenia, Rorogoi, Elkerama and Ndoria, who also arrived running and who assembled politely for their share of milk. Soon after milk feeding the four orphans lined up in following the others towards the water hole, with Ndoria grabbing the tip of Elkerama’s tail and biting it continuously while chasing him from behind. The keepers had to move swiftly, issuing Ndoria with a stern warning to leave Elkerama alone. Elkerama went to stand on his own after that incident, but Ndii and Suswa came in to comfort and assure him that all was well. Elkerama later agreed to join the rest in bathing. The rest of the day went on perfectly well with Panda enjoying the lead of taking them to the stockade that evening.

17 January 2016

The morning started well with Emily and Lesanju’s herd arriving in the stockade around 6.30am, missing the juniors slightly who had just taken off to the browsing grounds. Today there was a big wild elephant bull with them, and surprisingly ex-orphan bull Siria as well, who had been missing from the herd for a number of weeks. It was thought that maybe the bull was from one of the herds that Siria had joined, and Siria had brought him back on a grand orientation to show him where he was from. Siria was occasionally seen close to the big wild elephant bull with wild born babies Safi, Emma and Eden trusting the wild elephant bull close to them as well. The wild bull was very calm with Laikipia and Morani, the ex-orphans bulls, present today as well, interacting freely with him without any noticeable barriers. Mzima teased Morani in a pushing game, as Safi and Eden were busy playing with water in the stockade water trough. Emma favored some wonderful scratching games on the rock close to where Safi was at the water trough. The ex-orphans then left the stockade after hanging around for half an hour, leaving in the same direction as the juniors but they did not cross paths again for the rest of the day.

18 January 2016

It was a cloudy morning and the orphans were happy playing around the stockade compound before taking off to the browsing grounds this morning. There was no clear leader of the herd today as Naipoki and Ishaq B led some towards Msinga Hill in browsing. Panda and Lentili went straight past them with all the other orphans trusting their leadership, ignoring Naipoki and Ishaq B who were browsing on the hill side. Naipoki and Ishaq B had no other option other than to abandon their dream of leading today and reluctantly follow the will of their friends. After one hour of the orphans departure from the stockade, Emily’s herd with the yesterday’s wild elephant bull arrived. Siria, Laikipia and Moran were still present too. Icholta seems to be very tired of late with her birth we are sure expected very soon. Safi used his mouth to drink directly from the stockade trough, and later she joined Emma and Eden in some wonderful games on the rock close to the water trough. Kivuko seems to have a soft spot for Safi and always moves close to his side. Lesanju’s herd were given a nice opportunity to play with Safi but Dabassa was given a stern warning by Lempaute when he attempted to play some pushing games with him. They later moved off but they did not catch up with the juniors for the rest of the day.

19 January 2016

All the orphans agreed this morning in unison that Lentili was the best leader they should follow this day. The orphans left the stockade in high spirits looking forward to some peaceful browsing. Lentili took Bada and Nelion and remained behind with them, reducing the pace of the others in front as well. The afternoon arrived fast with the orphans taking off in groups of five towards the big water hole for milk and bathing. Elkerama was very happy in securing a first position to take his share of the noon milk bottles. His joy diminished fast however, upon noticing that Ndoria was close by as well. He became extra cautious of his milk, remembering Ndoria’s biting behavior a few days earlier, and stood at least ten meters away from her in milk feeding. The orphans then had a wonderful noon mud bath and browsed close to the water pool for the rest of the day.

20 January 2016

Elkerama, Suswa, Embu and Arruba were the first to enjoy their milk bottle this morning, paving way for the second group comprised of Tundani, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Araba and finally the others who all drank their milk peacefully. The orphans then started their games as usual in the stockade compound; Tundani and Nelion were slightly more reserved, browsing on some bushes close to the stockade water hole. The orphans then left the stockade for browsing and came across a wild elephant bull that had found his way into the staff quarters through an open spring gate, left for the big trucks carrying fuel pipes along that pipe line in the main park. This elephant bull became a threat to both the staff and the staff quarter residents which called for the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) pilot, rangers and the stockade keepers to try and drive this wild elephant out and back into the main park. After three hours they were still unsuccessful and the keepers thought of merging Lesanju’s herd with the wild elephant bull when they visited the stockade that evening; this drove the wild elephant bull smoothly away from the headquarters without any need of scaring him away.

21 January 2016

Upon noticing that the games were taking longer than expected in the stockade this morning, Kenia took matters into her own hands and decided to lead them all towards the browsing grounds. Here they settled into single file to browse their way around the western side of the stockade, arriving at the middle water pool around noon. The sun was bright and the temperature was extra warm. The orphans plunged into the water for games that took almost half an hour, before browsing close to that water hole for the rest of the day. The keepers sighted Emily and Lesanju’s herd trying to congregate under one tree close to the stockade compound, a situation that brought suspicion as there were certainly other trees in the area that could provide refuge for the herd from the scorching sun. Their suspicion was rightfully placed as when they drew closer they could see a tiny baby asleep surrounded by the whole herd. It was a great joy for all the keepers each becoming curious to see this new arrival that had probably been born in the night to Icholta. It is amazing to see the ex-orphans coming back close to the stockades to give birth; as they trust there is always a helping hand if any complication should arise during the birthing process.

22 January 2016

Another wonderful morning as Emily and Lesanju’s herd marched little, new born baby Inca around the stockade to show him off to the dedicated keepers, the extended family of these ex-orphans. The keepers held their breath in disbelief of the huge trust and love that the ex-orphans have for them, especially in such crucial and vulnerable times when there is a new born baby around. Emma was very excited to see this tiny one and kept attaching herself to him. After parading the baby around for at least an hour, the ex-orphans slowly left the stockade compound heading back to the bush. This was the perfect exercise for Inca to stretch his little legs as he had to climb the rocks, up and down around Msinga Hill, to strengthen his little limbs. The ex-orphans were very organized and left Inca to cross the rocky terrain at his own pace, with Icholta giving Mweya a security badge to bring the baby slowly down the hill to where all the others were waiting and browsing. Mweya played her role perfectly, delivering the tiny one to his mother Icholta and the others at a much slower pace. All the others then took the responsibility of protecting Inca with great priority. They all checked their browsing pace and walked slowly for the rest of the day, so the new born to keep up with the herd.

23 January 2016

It was a nice beginning of the day with Kihari, Naipoki and Panda pouring the water out of the half drum barrels inside their stockade, and then rolling and kicking them around as an alarm to alert the keepers that it was time to prepare their milk and everybody was supposed to be awake by 5.40am. The keepers responded positively and quickly, preparing the milk and getting it ready for their early morning milk feed. The orphans then left for the browsing grounds with Ndii pairing up with Bada and Mudanda to browse throughout the day. Suswa and Arruba had a wonderful time browsing together away from the rest, before later joining the others for the rest of the day. The orphans then went to the big water pool in groups of five: Tundani, Lentili, Rorogoi, Nelion and Mashariki in the first group closely followed by the others. They decided not to go wallowing in the afternoon as the day was cloudy and cold. Emily and Lesanju’s herd didn’t turn up at the stockade or meet up with the juniors today, but they were seen browsing on the far western side of the stockade.

24 January 2016

It was a wonderful morning today as the orphans drank their morning milk bottle and settled down to feed on their copra cake, before engaging one another in some fun games in the stockade compound. Today Panda came forward and challenged Lentili over the leadership of taking the others out to the browsing grounds. Lentili decided to show Panda the right respect, and to avoid rubbing shoulders with her superior, she allowed Panda to take the lead. Lentili still made her own way to the browsing grounds however. Some light showers began a few minutes before the afternoon milk feeding time. The milk and keepers lunch was taken to the eastern side of the stockade where the orphans were browsing as they didn’t want to go to the water hole today. Nelion attempted to drive Rorogoi and Elkerama to browse uphill with him, but the two were reluctant. The rest of the browsing day went on perfectly in this area, with Araba enjoying the lead of taking everyone back to the stockade that evening.

25 January 2016

The morning was good with the orphans coming out of their stockades in a happy mood and assembling for their morning milk bottle. Elkerama dashed off leaving his first milk bottle upon seeing Ndoria behind him. Ndoria was on a mission to bypass her milk bottle for a short time and impart some fear into Elkerama that she was going to bite his tail again. The keepers called him back, but Elkerama was very reluctant to come near Ndoria, forcing the keepers to follow him with his milk bottle to where he was standing. The orphans then left the stockade amid some light rain showers, settling onto the northern side of the stockade to browse on the green vegetation. The orphan’s milk was taken to that browsing area as they once again did not wish to visit the water hole in this cold weather. Nelion and Elkerama, who had explored half way up Msinga Hill, came down ten minutes later to take their share of milk, which they had heard their friends shouting for from down below as they ran to their bottles. Ishaq B and Embu attempted to come back to grab their milk on their arrival, but were blocked by the keepers to give the two late boys a peaceful environment to enjoy their milk bottle in

26 January 2016

The day was good with the orphans coming out of their stockades early in the morning for their usual milk feeding and games in the compound before leaving for the browsing grounds. The orphans browsed in single file throughout the day, consolidating the herd into one tight group. The keepers observed the leadership and ambition of orphans like Lentili to dictate the herds browsing movement, as they moved following her as one single herd. They browsed and arrived at the middle water pool later that afternoon. They then went into the water to bathe after quenching their thirst with clean water from the half drum barrels. Suswa took a very quick bath and moved out of the water securing her scratching paradise on the tree trunk of an acacia tree. Rorogoi lay down to show off her dust bathing expertise. Lentili’s browsing mission was still in high gear, and she finally succeeded in netting Nelion and Elkerama to follow her to a private browsing place. The three joined their friends on the way to the stockade in the evening, after browsing for more than an hour in that private place.

27 January 2016

After one hour of undisturbed browsing this morning, a big wild elephant bull, walking alone, came across the orphan’s path. The orphans shied away from the wild elephant bull, with no one willing to follow him due to his big size. Later in the morning the roads leading to both the big water hole and the middle water hole that were destroyed in the recent rains were graded with the help of the KWS grader fueled by the DSWT. The middle water hole was also excavated to remove the sand that had piled up during the rain water. The orphans later moved to the middle water hole to drink milk and water. The day was fairly warm today, so all the orphans plunged into the water for a wonderful bath. There was a tough bathing competition between Mbirikani and Ishaq B. Their bathing game attracted Ndii who went to challenge them as well. Ndii also attracted little Bada who came in to face them all head on in the bathing competition. The orphans browsed close to that water hole for the remaining half of that day. Rorogoi and Elkerama enjoyed the lead of taking everyone back to the stockade that evening.

28 January 2016

The morning has come with Kenia and Panda’s herd leaving the stockade early enough to catch up with the first light of the day in the field. They then paced towards the northern side of the stockade under the careful leadership of Ndii and Lentili. Soon after the juniors had left the stockade the famous Lesanju herd arrived in a hurry hoping to catch up with the juniors, but they had already left the stockade. Emily’s herd, which Lesanju’s herd had left behind, followed and they all interacted together and drank water from the stockade water trough. Twenty minutes after their departure towards the browsing grounds, in a teenage female elephant cow with her two day old calf came in. This elephant looked very tame to the keepers thought that it could have been Natumi or Ilingwezi, our ex-orphans that have not been seen for many years. We thought she may be linked with Emily herd’s but was slightly behind in keeping pace with her tiny calf. The elephant and its calf hung around the stockade for half an hour and then went off browsing to the foot of Msinga hill above the office until noon. The elephant cow and her calf came back to the stockade around 2pm. She drank again and stayed around the stockade for many hours and choosing to feed close by throughout the night for safety and comfort.

29 January 2016

The juniors left the stockade this morning after milk and supplement feeding. The cow and her calf seem to trust the stockade area and the keepers, and wished to remain feeding and drinking in that area today as well. She had browsed up way up Msinga hill, above the stockade office, and was all alone and the keepers worried about the possible predation of her little calf if she explored any further afield alone. That elephant cow had a right-hand portion of her tusk chopped off but that was possible and very likely with our orphans whose ivory seems to be more brittle than the wild elephants. It is so difficult to give a definitive answer but the fact that she was alone and not with a herd, that she returned with her baby and has hung around makes us feel sure she is one of our ex orphans. She bravely maintained her position having her calf around the stockade premises, trusting and believing in the protection that she much needed for her calf at this young age, of which there is plenty around stockade area. Emily’s herd then visited the stockade at 7.30am, drinking and leaving without linking up with that single elephant cow who was up the hill browsing at the time of their arrival. The elephant cow, that we hoped was Ilingwezi, didn’t come down to the stockade tonight as she had drunk enough water in the morning.

30 January 2016

It was a good morning with the orphans coming out and enjoying their morning milk bottle before assembling to eat some copra cake. There were only a few games in the stockade before the orphans took off to the field for browsing. The browsing went on well, and the orphans arrived at the middle water hole in groups of five, feeding on their delicious milk bottles. There was then a lot of fun in some mud bathing games, with Ndoria remaining in the water for a long time to declare herself the mud bathing star of the day. Later in the afternoon, Suswa stamped her authority by taking the lead of the herd in browsing for the remaining two hours, before Panda took over leadership and took everyone home for the evening.

31 January 2016

The orphans came out with great energy this morning, drank their milk bottles fast before playing some games and rolling on the ground, before moving off to the browsing grounds. Soon after they left the stockade compound, Emily’s herd came in without Icholta and a few others. They drank water from the stockade trough and were there only very briefly before leaving to go and browse in the bush. A patrol was sent out to find Icholta and her young baby and she was found browsing in the company of Thoma and Irima, close to the orphan’s big water hole. Inca was happy and he had enough security from Thoma and Irima. Later in the day, Lentili succeeded in netting Nelion and Embu to follow her, spending more than half an hour with them in browsing before joining their friends to head back to the safety of the stockade that evening.