Keepers' Diaries, July 2003

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- On the 14th July, we welcomed another inmate into the Nairobi Nursery from Mpala Ranch in Laikipia District, Northern Kenya. Several days previously, apparently a herd had come onto the Ranch from the North, many of them riddled in bullet wounds, and one bull, so badly wounded in the head that he could only stagger around as though drunk. Since the CITES decision of 2002 to ease the International Ban on the sale of Ivory, there has been a definite upsurge in poaching, particularly in Northern Kenya, and our latest Nursery inmate, little “Napasha”, aged about 9 months, is obviously a victim of that. He was found lying in tall grass by a herdsman, weak, grief-stricken and simply waiting for death. In fact the herdsman thought he was already dead, but he stirred when the man approached.

01 July 2003

Emily took the bigger orphans to meet a wild herd of 12 during the course of the morning, and enjoyed playing with an age-mate. They parted to join the babies at the noon mudbath, when Morani had a wonderful time, but because the sides were so slippery, had difficulty in getting out, so Aitong came to help him

02 July 2003

At 6.30 a.m. Aitong took Sally into a wild herd, and spent about half an hour feeding in amongst them before joining the other orphans. At l0.30 a.m. the orphans joined another wild group of 7, who accompanied them to the mudbath. Laikipia and Salama enjoyed pushing games with wild age-mates.

03 July 2003

The day was cloudy and cold, so the orphans concentrated on feeding. After the mudbath, all the orphans joined a wild group of l0 and spent the rest of the day with them. Morani would have liked to go with the wild elephants in the evening, but the Keepers called him back.

04 July 2003

Natumi chased away a herd of impala who came to drink at the mudbath, reinforced by Salama, Edie, Mulika and Kinna. During the mudbath, our orphans were joined by a wild group and they all wallowed wonderfully together. One young cow of about 18 years of age lay down in the mud and allowed Burra, Thoma, Morani and Seraa to climb on her. Later the wild group browsed with our orphans for the rest of the afternoon.

05 July 2003

After mudbath, the orphans joined a wild herd of 12. Mpala suckled the ear of a wild cow. Sosian, Mukwaju, Nyiro and Mweya had a wonderful time playing pushing games with wild friends, and when the orphans left to return to the Stockade, Mukwaju remained behind. When he realised the others had left, he rushed after them, trumpeting.

06 July 2003

At 2 p.m. our orphans joined a wild group of 7. Emily, Yatta, Tsavo and Burra enjoyed playing with wild friends until Tsavo was pushed down by one of the wild elephants, and bellowed so loudly that he scared the others who ran to their Keepers!

07 July 2003

The orphans were very happy to join a large group of about 15 wild elephants at the noon mudbath. Our orphans were completed surrounded by the wild elephants. Seraa and Morani wallowed “wonderfully” in amongst the legs of the huge wild elephants. The orphans browsed in amongst this group for the rest of the day, leaving them only when it was time to return to the Stockades.

08 July 2003

Loisaba, Morani, Tsavo and Kinna played a game of hide and seek. Loisaba concentrated on searching for Morani. At 3.10 p.m. a wild herd approached our orphans, but one cow had very long tusks, which scared Mpala and Burra who ran to their Keepers. Aitong returned to the Keepers to take the two babies to the wild herd, but they were a little bit too shy, and kept returning when they drew close to the big cow! Ilingwezi developed a boil on her right buttock, which the Keepers dressed.

09 July 2003

After the mudbath, Salama and Laikipia had a disagreement, but Aitong intervened to break it up.

10 July 2003

Seraa, Mweya, Mvita, Tsavo and Mpala were very scared when a buffalo without a tail charged them. They rushed to the Keepers whilst Emily, Aitong, Salama and Mukwaju dealt with the buffalo, chasing it away.

11 July 2003

After the mudbath the orphans joined the wild group led by Catherine. Loisaba pulled Morani to her side, but he rumbled repeatedly because he wanted to be with the wild elephants.

12 July 2003

At 8.20 a.m. the orphans joined up with a wild group of 8. Morani, Seraa and Mpala mixed in amongst them freely, but Aitong spent her time trying to get them back. The young orphans ignored her attempts and browsed with their wild friends.

13 July 2003

Laikipia, Icholta and Natumi had fun chasing two waterbucks around, who were browsing near them.

14 July 2003

The orphans joined a wild group of 13 at 11.20 a.m. and took them to the mudbath, happy for the wild elephants to drink water from the Orphans’ Bins.

15 July 2003

Aitong and Loisaba competed for possession of Morani, Aitong pulling him to her side, but Loisaba kept on following. In the end, Morani made the decision and chose Loisaba, spending the rest of the day with her.

16 July 2003

At 9.20 a.m. a large herd of about 20 wild elephants passed by the orphans on their way to drink at the Orphans’ mudbath. They were travelling in a long single line. Emily tagged on, but the other orphans just watched them pass.

17 July 2003

Burra, Kinna, Seraa and Ndara were scared and screamed loudly as they ran to the Keepers because two running zebras rushed past them very fast.

18 July 2003

At 2.20 p.m. the orphans joined a wild group of 7 elephants and spend the next 2 hours with them. Burra and Laikipia remained with the wild herd when the others left, and spend an hour with them before catching up with the others.

19 July 2003

9 wild elephants joined our orphans. Natumi and Edie were allowed to play with a wild baby of about 6 months old, but the mother pushed them away when Aitong approached. At the mudbath Sosian fought Salama who refused to let him share the bin of water. All the others watched the battle closely. Sosian won when Mukwaju came to help him.

20 July 2003

At 8 a.m. Mweya led Sally, Thoma, Seraa and Mpala into a chase of a make-believe enemy that needed expelling, rushing here and there with ears out like saucers. During the mudbath a disagreement developed between Nyiro and Burra over who should occupy the middle position. Nyiro pushed Burra down, and climbed on him, but Thoma and Sosian came to the rescue, and between them and Burra, expelled Nyiro from the mudwallow.

21 July 2003

Whilst feeding in the late evening, a Monitor Lizard approached the orphans. Seraa was afraid and ran to the Keepers, but Natumi, having noticed that it was, indeed, just a lizard, charged it and all the other orphans joined in the chase, trumpeting and rushing around joyfully. Ilingwezi’s boil was treated by a K.W.S. visiting Vet, who gave her a long acting antibiotic injection.

22 July 2003

After a wonderful mudbath, all the orphans joined the wild group led by Emily’s friend named Naomi, who took them up Mazinga Hill. Our orphans remained with this group for the entire afternoon, coming down the hill at 6 p.m.

23 July 2003

At 9.20 a.m. Sally went to suckle Aitong’s ear, something Aitong enjoyed very much, because she adores Sally. These two spent the rest of the day close together. After the mudbath Nyiro charged towards a fallen tree and Emily, Mweiga and Solango went to take a look at the perceived threat. When they discovered that it was just “bluff” and nothing more than a tree, Mweiga gave Nyiro a hard shove!

24 July 2003

Loisaba is very possessive of Morani, and chased off Yatta who tried to approach him, biting her tail. Yatta browsed apart from the others for a while, unhappy at being punished.

25 July 2003

A friendly warthog decided to join the orphans during their mudbath, but found itself surrounded by Mweya, Solango, Kinna, Nyiro and Tsavo, who charged onto it. It shot between Nyiro’s legs, which made him scream in fear, bringing Emily immediately, who calmed him by touching his mouth with her trunk in an elephant “kiss”.

26 July 2003

The orphans met up with 12 wild elephants on their way to the noon mudbath. Aitong did not want Morani to join the wild herd, and kept him firmly by her side, holding him with her trunk. Later she and Morani intermingled with the wild group, but Aitong kept a close watch on Morani.

27 July 2003

Upon leaving the Stockades, all the orphans formed a long line, led by Mweya, each elephant with its trunk placed on the back of the one in front. They proceeded thus to the browsing field. At 2 p.m. a very large lone bull elephant approached the orphans, who were scared of him, and came close to the Keepers. Eventually, the bull walked off towards the airfield. Ilingwezi’s wound is healing fast.

28 July 2003

Today Ilingwezi played pushing games with Mukwaju, whilst Mweya took on Mpala. Aitong went to join a wild group that passed close by, but the others did not want to intermingle today.

29 July 2003

Today Loisaba escorted Morani to the milk tractor at noon, and laid her trunk lovingly across his back whilst he took his bottle. She then escorted him back to join the group.

30 July 2003

The orphans joined a wild group of about 20 elephants at 6.30 a.m. They were with this group the entire day, playing their pushing games with wild friends, and together all went to enjoy the mudbath, when Nyiro, Salama and Lolokwe played happily with wild friends of their age.

31 July 2003

This month, the orphans have joined wild groups almost every day, and have played and browsed in amongst them happily and peacefully.