Keepers' Diaries, January 2018
Voi Reintegration Unit
The big girls of Voi continue to wrestle over the affection of the young babies, Tahri and Araba. Ndii is most attached to Tahri and is reluctant to allow the other girls like Panda or Ishaq-B near her. Sometimes she will allow Kihari but that is only because they are very old friends.
01 January 2018
The morning started well with the babies playing games around the stockade compound following their milk and supplement feeding. Ndii blocked Panda and Ishaq-B from interacting with her adopted baby Tahri when the two tried to engage her in games.
Mbirikani and Bada wanted to lead the orphan group up Msinga Hill to browse but Lentili, Suswa and Arruba had a different idea and led the group to the lower western sides of the Hill for the morning browsing session.
The orphans made their way slowly to the baobab waterhole in the afternoon where they engaged in a mud bathing competition with Tundani sitting in the centre of the mudbath where he shone before being followed by Embu who wanted to challenge him in a strength testing game; Tundani was not ready for it!
Kenia and her adopted baby Araba tried to introduce the others to a game of lying and rolling around in the red earth piles but were not successful in attracting any of the other orphans to join them. The afternoon was spent browsing close to the waterhole.
02 January 2018
The morning was cold as the orphans exited their stockades for their morning milk bottle before proceeding for some supplement feeding. They then engaged in some soil dusting games before following Kihari and Naipoki to the browsing fields. The orphans browsed on the eastern and northern sides of the stockade with the midday milk bottles being taken to them as they did not seem interested in visiting the waterhole.
In the evening Ndii and Kenia led the group to the waterhole where they had a drink of water from the water trough at the baobab mud bath before enjoying some mud bathing games. Ishaq-B came out of the water and enjoyed a dust bath as she tried to get Mudanda to join her. Once they had had their fill of fun they headed to the stockades for the night.
03 January 2018
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with the orphan elephants coming out of their stockade, downing a morning milk bottle and settling for their supplement feeding before beginning the journey out to the browsing grounds. The orphans browsed in single file with Ishaq-B, Panda and Ndii staying close to Tahri while Kenia and Araba kept company with one another.
Two hours after the juniors had left the stockade, Lesanju, Lolokwe, Thoma, baby Thor, Ndara, baby Neptune, Tassia, Sinya and Siria visited the stockade where they had a drink from the water trough. They remained at the stockade compound for about half an hour allowing Thor and Neptune to suckle from their mothers before they returned to the park. In the afternoon, Layoni and Dabassa, who are best friends, came to the stockade for a quick drink before heading off again.
04 January 2018
The day began with the orphan elephants coming out of their stockade at first light, enjoying their milk and supplements before engaging in socializing games around the stockade compound.
The morning was spent browsing peacefully until it was time to make their way to the baobab waterhole. A big wild bull passed close to the orphans who stopped in their tracks to welcome him into their group. Kenia and Ndii were a bit worried that he would try and get close to their adopted babies Araba and Tahri but the wild bull was only interested in interacting with the older females.
Embu and Bada could see their milk bottles waiting for them and tried to hurry the group along, feeling that more importance should be given to the milk feed than to making friends with the wild bull. At the mud bath the orphans had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games before resuming with the browsing activities around the waterhole.
05 January 2018
It was a wonderful beginning to the day as the orphan elephants happily came out to of their stockades for their milk before heading to the browsing fields for the day. The orphan herd lined up in a nearly perfect line as they walked to the fields in single file browsing as they went.
The weather was fairly cold today and as such none of the orphans had a mud bath when they visited the baobab waterhole at noon for their milk bottle. As they headed back to the browsing fields they crossed paths with a wild bull. The babies lifted their trunk in greeting but did not join him choosing instead to continue with their own plans.
06 January 2018
The morning was full of games around the stockade compound following the orphans milk and supplement feeding. They played until Kenia and Ndii decided to lead the group out followed first by Araba and Tahri with the rest of the orphans falling in line.
On arrival at the browsing grounds, seven year old Kihari split from the main group taking five year olds Mashariki, Bada, Mudanda, Lentili, Rorogoi and her age mate Naipoki with her. The smaller satellite group browsed together for about 20 minutes before rejoining the rest.
After the afternoon mud bath, Ndii went and drew some water that she found in a shallow hole in a tree trunk. The keepers figured that she was testing the water to see if it was sweeter or different in any way to what she had just drunk from the water trough.
The afternoon was spent browsing peacefully until it was time to return home with Ndoria and Arruba leading the group back to the safety of the stockades.
07 January 2018
It was a wonderful beginning to the day as the orphans came running out of their stockades as soon as the gates were opened. They emptied their milk bottle as fast as they could before settling to enjoy the supplements that had been put out for them. Embu picked up a dry stick and used it to scratch her chest. Rorogoi saw what she was doing tried to snatch the stick and grab it from Embu who held onto it until she was done after which she dropped it allowing Rorogoi to have it.
The orphans proceeded to the park under Lentili and Naipoki’s leadership. They browsed peacefully until it was time for the noon milk feed after which they enjoyed mudbathing and dust bathing games.
08 January 2018
It was a cold morning with very light rain sprinkles welcoming the orphans as they exited their night quarters. They engaged in socializing games with Kihari, Suswa, Nelion, and Arruba lying down in an attempt to draw some warmth from the soil before joining others who were headed towards the browsing grounds.
The orphans browsed in single file before visiting the baobab water hole where they enjoyed an afternoon milk bottle before making their way to the northern side of Msinga Hill. While the orphan elephants were busy browsing, Tawi, the male Ex Orphan eland that had gone wild more than a month ago, came together with about ten wild zebra to join the orphans. Tawi came to greet the elephants while the zebra herd watched him and waited patiently for him to rejoin them so that they could continue on their way.
09 January 2018
The day began with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding before proceeding towards the forest for the beginning of a long day out in the park browsing.
Ngulia and Kore, who came out of their stables at about the same time, ran around playing chasing games, which scared the orphan elephants who were at that time lying down playing dust bathing games. They quickly got to their feet to find out what was going on, and when they realized that it was just Ngulia and Kore playing, they headed out to the park.
The orphans browsed peacefully on the western side of Msinga Hill maneuvering around the big rock boulders as they fed. At 3pm, Tawi with his wild zebra herd arrived to join the orphan elephants. Tawi went to greet the keepers and enjoyed spending some time with them. He hung around until the early evening when he decided to follow the orphan elephants back to the stockades. He ran up to his former stable where he interacted with Kore who was already safely tucked away for the night.
10 January 2018
The morning began like any other with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding before walking through the bushes as they headed to the browsing grounds.
Today Kihari was seen spending some time with Tahri during the morning browsing session. Ndii and Kihari are very close friends and as such Ndii was happy to allow her friend to spend some time with Tahri though she made sure to keep a constant watch on the two.
As the orphans were headed to their noon milk bottle, Mudanda tired to overtake Mbirikani in an effort to get to the milk bottles first. Mbirikani was able to maintain the lead surprising Mudanda as she thought she would not have a problem overtaking Mbirikani who still has a slight limp from the snare wound that rendered her an orphan.
11 January 2018
This morning the orphan elephants enjoyed playing hide and seek games coupled with soil dusting games on the red earth piles at the stockade compound. Nelion and Bada took turns scratching against the rock boulders before joining the rest of the orphan elephants as they headed towards the browsing grounds. Nelion and Bada wanted to stay on the eastern side of Msinga Hill for the morning browsing session but ended up following the rest of the orphan herd who were quickly making their way to the Northern side of Msinga Hill.
Today Ajali, who does not take any milk, was the first one to get to the milk feeding area and stood behind Nguvu and waited for his friend to finish his milk bottles so that the two of them could go to the baobab waterhole. The two together with Suswa, Arruba, Naipoki and Lentili plunged into the water, following a drink from the water trough, and were soon joined by the rest of the orphan group.
12 January 2018
It was a bright morning as the sun rose over the horizon predicting a sunny and warm day. Ngulia the orphan zebra was very happy to have Tawi visiting. Tawi mimic mounted Ngulia while Kore, the female orphan eland, chased the two around the stockade compound. Ngulia became very attached to Tawi, chasing Kore away whenever she would approach them.
The orphan elephants had a nice day browsing in the park. Lentili managed to get Tahri away from the rest of the orphan group for some private browsing time. The two fed together for about 10 minutes after which they had to rejoin the group as it was time to return to the safety of the stockades for the night.
13 January 2018
The morning started with the orphan elephants playing happily around the stockade compound before leaving for the forest for the beginning of a long day browsing in the park.
On the way out the orphans encountered a wild elephant herd that was in the company of two big wild elephant bulls. Panda, Kenia and Ndii who were in the lead were reluctant to join the wild herd, but followed the rest of the group who were eager to greet their wild friends. The wild elephant bull responded with deep rumbles while stretching his truck out to touch and pet Arruba, Kihari, Nelion and Suswa. The four stood calmly enjoying the attention they were receiving from the wild bull. Mashariki and Rorogoi were given the opportunity to play a pushing and shoving game with a young wild elephant calf. The orphans followed the wild group for a while before separating as they headed to the water hole in the afternoon.
14 January 2018
The morning was good with the orphans exiting their stockades in the morning, downing their milk bottle and settling for some supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. Once in the field they spread out to feed, grabbing as much browse as they could. Kenia stuck with her adopted baby Araba, while Ndii was bumper to bumper with her chosen darling Tahri.
The orphans made their way to the baobab water hole in the afternoon in groups of five. Arruba, who is best friends with Suswa, snuck away from the keepers and managed to join the first group making it a group of 6 that came first for their milk bottles. The orphan elephants then had a drink of clean water from the baobab tree water trough, before plunging into the water for a wonderful mud bath. Mashariki enjoyed a game of sitting on the walls of the waterhole and sliding into the water while Lentili watched. The group then enjoyed a dust bath after which they resumed with their browsing activities in the vicinity of the mudbath.
15 January 2018
The began with the orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding, before enjoying a brief playing session at the stockade compound after which they headed to the park. Nelion had a wonderful scratching session on a rock before following the others to the browsing grounds.
Mashariki took leadership today steering the group to the far northern sides of Msinga Hill, but was met with some resistance from Lentili and Arruba who wanted to browse on the Eastern foot of Msinga Hill. Kihari and Ndii brought up the rear to ensure that all the orphans were happy and safe. Kihari also had the intention of wanting to steal Tahri away from Ndii, something that Ndii did not allow her to do today.
The orphans visited the baobab water hole for some fun and games in the mudbath. Nelion was very thirsty and bent down and drank water out of the water trough with his mouth, surprising Tahri, Ajali and Nguvu. The keepers thought it was very funny when Panda, who thought he was doing everything wrong, gave him a push in an effort to get him to change his drinking style.
16 January 2018
The morning Panda was very happy as Ndii allowed her to spend some time with little Tahri while the orphans were enjoying their supplements. The stockade dependant orphan elephants finished their milk and supplements before proceeding for the browsing fields. Tundani and Embu were in the lead today, traversing several browsing routes, regardless of where the rest of their group was.
Bada, who does not seem to want to accept that he is junior to Tundani, engaged him in a strength testing game. Tundani stood firm and was not perturbed by the youngster’s efforts. Their game came to a quick end when the rest of the orphans started making their way to the waterhole. As it was quite a cold day the orphans drank their milk and some water and all but Ndoria, who attempted to have a quick wallow, avoided the mud bath.
17 January 2018
It was a nice beginning to the day as the orphans came out of their stables in high spirits looking forward to a new day. Kenia took charge and led the others towards the browsing grounds after the milk and supplement feeding was over.
Once the orphans were in the browsing fields, Layoni and Dabassa walked past them on their way to the Voi River, as they headed to the Voi River without stopping to join the stockade dependent orphans.
The orphans had a wonderful bathing session following their afternoon milk bottle. Ishaq-B enjoyed scratching against a low lying acacia tree branch after which he joined the rest for the afternoons browsing session.
18 January 2018
The morning was cloudy and cold as the stockade dependant orphan elephants came out of the stockades and downed a morning milk bottle. Ndoria became very naughty, ambushing Suswa, who was busy feeding on some lucerne grass pellets, giving her a very tough push which caught Suswa unaware and had her shout for help. Ndoria ran away from the crime scene, pretending she was very innocent and unaware of what had happened to Suswa. The keeper’s intervened and comforted Suswa so that she felt comfortable enough to rejoin the group.
The orphans visited the baobab waterhole in the afternoon, with Bada and Tundani becoming the most amazing bathers of the day as they managed to evict the rest of the orphan elephant herd from the water hole, by running in and out and kicking the water with both their front and rear feet, sending mud into the eyes of the rest of the group. Araba who was watching their games also moved away and joined the rest of the group who were browsing around the waterhole.
19 January 2018
It was a nice beginning to the day with the orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplement feeding after which they immediately left for the browsing grounds. Mbirikani and Nelion took the lead of the others up Msinga Hill for the morning browsing session.
Nelion joined the rest of the orphans as they headed to the waterhole while Mbirikani remained browsing alone on Msinga Hill. At the mudwallow, Panda had a wonderful time sliding down the walls of the water pool into the water. He game attracted the attention of Araba and Rorogoi who came to watch her. After the afternoon mud bath, Kihari was happy to have Tahri come and scratch her bottom against her stomach. Mbirikani rejoined the group at 3pm browsing with them until it was time to return to the safety of the stockades for the night.
20 January 2018
The orphans came running out of their stockades this morning full of energy and eager to begin the day. There was a little commotion caused when Nguvu accidentally collided with Suswa as they ran for their milk bottles. As no one was hurt the milk feeding continued without any incidences. There were some amazing games of hide and seek coupled with baboon chasing around the stockade compound after which the orphans headed to the park.
Panda and Kihari seemed to be in deep consultation today about finding a way to take Tahri away from Ndii. In the end, however, they decided to not antagonize Ndii by taking her baby away from her as she can sometimes get aggressive when unfairly provoked. Kenia stuck close to Araba to ensure that no one tried to take her baby away from her.
The orphans visited the baobab water hole in the afternoon, and spent the remainder of the day browsing on the western foot of Msinga Hill.
21 January 2018
This morning there was a light rain shower as the orphans exited their stockades. This put the orphans in a playful mood and they were seen lying on the ground, tossing their trunks skyward, as if praying for more rain. Sadly the rain shower was short lived and as such the orphans made their way out to browse under Lentili, Arruba and Suswa’s leadership.
They had a wonderful morning feeding on the moist grass followed by a midday milk bottle on the northern side of the baobab water hole, arriving at the around 3pm. They had a wonderful time mud bathing followed by some fun at the dust bath. Arruba was happily playing in the red earth until Mudanda came and sat on her stomach, preventing her from moving and bringing an end to her fun. Ishaq-B saw what had happened to Arruba and decided to loosen up some soil by digging the ground with her toe nails, thus enabling her to have a dust bath away from the rest of the orphans ensuring that she would not be bothered by anyone.
22 January 2018
The stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoyed their milk and supplement foods before engaging in some brief games at the stockade compound after which they headed to the browsing grounds.
Three hours after their departure, Emily and Lesanju’s herds arrived at the stockade and had a drink of clean water from the water trough. Kivuko was seen following little Neptune around as Lempaute rubbed her itchy bottom against the rocks at the stockade compound. It has been more than three weeks since Emily’s herd last visited the stockade and the keepers were happy to see them. A few minutes after they walked out to the Park, Laikipia arrived together with Taveta. Taveta was bouncing along, swinging his trunk from side to side. The two later followed the other Ex Orphans out to the park.
23 January 2018
The morning began as usual with the stockade dependant orphan elephants emptying a delicious morning milk bottle in a rush, then assembling for some supplement feeding. They had some brief socializing and chasing games around the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds under the leadership of Kihari.
Upon arriving at the northern side of the stockade, Layoni and Kivuko, who were browsing half way up Msinga Hill, attempted to come down to join the juniors, who had unfortunately already moved further afield by the time they came down.
The orphans had a peaceful session on the far northern side of Msinga Hill, browsing their way to the western side, before coming down in groups of five for their afternoon milk bottle at the baobab water hole. It was cold and cloudy with the orphan elephants having a partial mud bath before enjoying soil dusting games on the red earth piles. Tundani had fun chasing two warthogs away from the waterhole, keeping them away until the orphans left at which point the warthogs were able to enjoy a drink of water in peace and quiet.
24 January 2018
The morning started with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their morning milk bottle after which they engaged in supplement feeding, before teaming up in groups for some socializing games. The game of chase around the compound soon became the favourite and continued until Layoni and Dabassa arrived, at which point Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki and Kihari led their group out to the park.
The orphan elephant herd visited the water hole in the afternoon, but as it was cold they were reluctant to have a mud bath. Ndii stretched out her trunk to touch Lentili, seemingly trying to take the lead and get the group into the water. Lentili had no interest in doing so and as such the orphans returned to the browsing fields where they remained until it was time to return to the stockades for the night.
25 January 2018
There were some heavy clouds as the orphans exited their stockades forecasting a cold day ahead. The juniors downed their morning milk bottle then played games around the stockade compound before heading out to the Park.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants browsed on the eastern side of Msinga Hill under Mbirikani and Rorogoi’s leadership. They browsed in single file before slowing making their way to the baobab waterhole where they had a quick wallow as it was too cold to have a prolonged mud bath. Mudanda pushed Embu away from a tree trunk that she was scratching against so that she could enjoy a scratching session instead. Tundani was mistakenly left behind by the group when they returned to the browsing fields and had to run to catch up with them.
Oltukai, the orphan buffalo, who has been receiving treatment on his leg injury, seems to have some swelling on the bad leg and was put on a three day course of antibiotic injections by the vet.
26 January 2018
The orphans left the stockade compound as soon as they had finished their morning milk bottle. Mbirikani was leading the group and stopped to scratch her bottom against a rock that she found effective, preventing the rest of the group from moving on until she was done. Soon after they resumed their journey Nguvu broke through to the front of the group and took over the leadership role. Mashariki was jealous of him doing this and kept trying to grab his tail with her trunk in an effort to pull him back.
Today Kihari came up behind Ndii and managed to steal Tahri way from her for a private browsing session in some thick bush. The two browsed together for half an hour after which Kihari brought Tahri back as it was time for the midday milk bottle and mud bath. The orphans had a lot of fun playing in the mud bath and spent the afternoon browsing close to waterhole.
27 January 2018
It was a calm morning as the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrated on their usual feeding routine at the stockade before following Lentili to the browsing grounds. Soon after the juniors left the stockade compound, Emily’s herd arrived and had a quick drink before returning to the Park.
The orphan herd settled to browse in single file with Kenia focusing on her adopted baby Araba while Ndii spent the whole day browsing side by side with. Dabassa and Layoni encountered the stockade dependant orphan elephants at the browsing grounds. The two lifted their trunks skyward to salute the juniors, but did not join them.
The orphans visited the water hole at noon where they had a brief bath before resuming with their browsing activities. Ndoria enjoyed leading the group back to the stockade in the evening using the fact that she is a tail biter to her advantage, as none of the others wanted to overtake her out of fear of getting their tail bitten.
28 January 2018
The morning began with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk and supplement foods before heading to the browsing grounds. Naipoki took charge and led the orphans out. Panda attempted to lead the orphans up Msinga Hill but was met with some resistance from those who preferred to remain where they were. Panda tried to steal Tahri from Ndii who saw what she was doing and prevented her from taking Tahri.
Layoni and Dabassa came walking past the stockade dependant orphan elephants as they made their way to the Voi River. The two seem to be on a browsing mission and aside from lifting their trunks in greeting did not stop to spend any time with the juniors.
Ajali and Nguvu enjoyed a wonderful private browsing session away from the rest of the orphan elephant herd, but rejoined them as the group made their way to the waterhole in the afternoon.
29 January 2018
The orphan elephants stuck to their usual milk and supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. Araba went and rubbed her bottom on a rock close to the stockade water trough, forcing Kenia to wait until she was through and had rejoined the rest of the group so that they could head to the park.
The weather was fairly cold today and as such the orphans did not want to visit the waterhole and had their milk delivered to them at the eastern side of the stockade browsing grounds. Mudanda and Rorogoi who were following Lentili to the water hole without the others, had to stop and respect the wishes of the rest of the group who did not want to visit the mud bath. Ajali remained neutral and spent some time browsing away from the two groups until Panda managed to get the entire herd to follow her to the water hole. Mbirikani got left behind and had to run to catch up. She then remained in the mud bath long after the others had left, joining them in the browsing fields about 10 minutes later.
30 January 2018
The morning began with Mashariki and Mudanda leading the orphan herd to the browsing grounds once the milk and supplement feeding was over. The two leaders soon noticed Dabassa and Layoni browsing on the eastern side of Msinga Hill but didn’t join them, choosing instead to browse at the base of the hill, sending a rumbled greeting to their two Ex Orphan friends.
Nelion and Bada separated from the group as they had their own browsing plans. It was not long however before they rejoined the orphan herd who were headed to the waterhole for the midday milk feed and mud bath. Ishaq-B enjoyed a private bathing session in a small wallow, thus avoiding any mud-bathing competitions. The rest of the day was spent browsing close to the baobab waterhole until it was time to return to the stockades.
31 January 2018
The orphan elephants concentrated on their usual milk and supplement feeding this morning before enjoying a brief playing session at the stockade compound after which they headed to the browsing fields. Kihari and Kenia brought up the rear of the group, making sure that all the orphan elephants were happy and safe and keeping an eye on Araba who was lagging behind, wanting attention from the two older girls.
It has become apparent that Panda has a soft spot for Tahri and the two managed to have some time browsing together today. Ndii was happy to let Panda enjoy some time with Tahri but made sure that it was not for too long.
The orphans visited the baobab tree waterhole at noon and were temporarily scared off by a flock of birds having a drink at the main waterhole. The birds made quite a noise as they flew, casting a shadow over the orphans. Once the birds had left the orphan herd had a lovely time playing in the mud bath. The afternoon was spent browsing around the waterhole.