Keepers' Diaries, January 2019

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Voi Reintegration Unit

It was quite a month for socializing this January with Emily’s ex-orphan herd, consisting of her babies Emma and Eve, as well as Edie with her babies Eden and Ella, Sweet Sally with baby Safi, Lesanju, Lempaute, Rombo, Mweya, and Icholta with her baby Inca arriving at the beginning of the month. 

We have then been having visits from Ndara and baby Neptune, Thoma and baby Thor and Taveta as well. Eighteen year old ex-orphan Mweya is heavily pregnant, and towards the end of the month we noticed she looked very tired. We expect she will calve any day now, and her friends are lavishing attention upon her, especially Thoma, anticipating the event. Perhaps, aside from the fresh water found around the Voi compound, this is another reason Emily’s herd chose to stick close to home this month, with Mweya due to give birth any day and wishing to stay around the protective environment of their old home.

Twelve year old Lempaute adores all of the dependent orphans and is always over excited when she is reunited with them, much to Kenia’s dismay. Lempaute loves to come running over to the juniors whenever they cross paths, but this does tend to infuriate Kenia, who doesn’t like any of the older ex-orphan females interfering with ‘her’ herd; it is always so apparent because we can see the over-excited angry hormone secretions on her face when the ex-orphans are around, and she always tries to gather up the herd to march them away in the opposite direction. Most of the youngsters love socializing with the ex-orphans however, especially the new arrivals from Nairobi, and Murit even had the golden opportunity of playing with wild born baby Neptune one day as well. 

The orphans socialized quite a bit with wild elephant herds as well, who came around to take advantage of the water troughs. Mashariki and some of the others were always quite intent on getting close to the wild calves to play with them, but often their attempts were thwarted by the older siblings. Murit managed to have a wonderful time interacting with a small wild elephant calf who he enjoyed a play fight with, and another day another teenage elephant came over to play with Rorgoi and engaged Tundani in a wrestling game too. Perhaps the funniest encounter was one day when the orphans were running towards the baobab water trough for a drink of water, but in the process they scared off a fully grown wild bull who was taken aback by the sight of so many youngsters running towards him! Such an elephant herd consisting of so many babies would have been a peculiar sight for him, and kind Suswa walked up to him to reassure him as clearly he was alarmed by what he saw.

Kenia, Ndii, Kihari and even Naipoki have been keeping the peace amongst the dependent orphans this month and have been quick to discipline any naughty behaviour. Naipoki disciplined Mudanda’s greedy behaviour and all of them kept an eye on the cheeky Ndoria of course, famous for her tail-biting antics. One day she attacked both Suswa and Rorogoi and all three matriarchs had to intervene.

Mbegu has been keeping an eye on her own little micro-herd that she arrived with from the Nairobi Nursery last June. If any of the bulls like Ngilai or Ndotto look like they are taking their wrestling games too far she is quick to step in. Ishaq-B is still keen to woo Mbegu’s herd and have them as her very own group of babies, but Mbegu still remains cautious of her intentions, with the others very loyal to her.

It is quite funny to see that Godoma and Mbegu’s love for the lucerne pellets has transitioned and continued into their life at the Voi stockades as well, and often they can be spotted as the last ones grabbing at ‘trunkfuls’ of pellets as the others make their way out to the bush to browse. One morning Mbegu even ran right past her milk bottles to have a mouthful of lucerne pellets first! Ngilai seems to have developed an insatiable milk thirst as well, and is in constant competition with little Tahri over who can be the first to the bottles, with Godoma coming in close third in the greedy department. One day Ngilai tried to sneak around for an extra bottle as well, pretending he hadn’t had his share yet, but the Keepers were wise to his tricks. 

In the afternoon of the 2nd, stockade raised buffalo Ol-tukai, who had gone wild with Kore and Tawi the orphaned elands, returned back to the stockades. He looked very shy and apprehensive but at last went into his stable for the night and he stayed around for the rest of the month. Tawi the eland returned on the 15th as well to check in on his friend Ol-tukai and later in the month the Keepers noticed he had an abysses growing behind his ear. The DSWT/KWS Tsavo mobile vet was called to come and treat it which Dr Poghon effectively managed. One day Lentili was super excited in the morning and went charging over to Ol-tukai who was near the stockade waterhole. Ol-tukai retaliated and charged towards Lentili who quickly retreated, which brought Kenia running to Lentili’s aid as she approached Ol-tukai ready for a fight. Thankfully everything remained peaceful and Kenia led her group out into the Park to browse for the day.  

January 2019 day to day

01 Jan

The stockade dependent orphan elephants came out of their stockades for their morning milk bottles. When they were done they stayed around the stockade area to play before leaving for the days browsing.

Lasayen and Ndotto were busy playing their morning games, as Mashariki was busy stripping branches, feasting on green acacia branches along the stockade fence line. Naipoki scratched her buttocks on one of the rocks before Nelion came over to do the same. Kenia, Ndii, Tahri and Araba kept close to the mischievous Ndoria leading the way out.

Soon after they left the stockade, a few members of Emily’s herd arrived. Emily came in with Emma, Eve, Edie, Eden, Sweet Sally, Safi, Lesanju, Lempaute, Rombo, Mweya, Icholta and Inca. The rest of her herd did not visit with her today. They enjoyed drinking clean water from the stockade water trough, relaxing and hanging around the stockade compound for half an hour before leaving for the bush.

Mweya visiting the stockades

Leasanju visiting stockades with Emily herd

Eve protecting little sister Emma