Keepers' Diaries, July 2009

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Siria and Mzima continue to be good play mates engaging one another in pushing games at the stockades, the mubath and out in the field. The dry season has taken hold and allot of the vegetation has dried up making it difficult for the orphans and other wildlife to find green nourishing food. The Orphans spend most of their days browsing intensely along the slopes of Msinga Hill occasionally going all the way to the top in search of greener foliage. If the day is warm enough they take a break at noon to have a mud wallow and dust bath. The orphan’s antics sometimes attract the attention of the baboons who are curious to see what all the commotion is about and as a result often end up being chased by the babies!

Siria and Mzima continue to be good play mates engaging one another in pushing games at the stockades, the mubath and out in the field. The dry season has taken hold and allot of the vegetation has dried up making it difficult for the orphans and other wildlife to find green nourishing food. The Orphans spend most of their days browsing intensely along the slopes of Msinga Hill occasionally going all the way to the top in search of greener foliage. If the day is warm enough they take a break at noon to have a mud wallow and dust bath. The orphan’s antics sometimes attract the attention of the baboons who are curious to see what all the commotion is about and as a result often end up being chased by the babies!

Lesanju continues to have the main leadership role sometimes relinquishing it to Mzima, and Wassesa. The rest prefer to follow and as of yet have not exhibited a desire to be in the front.

The Voi Unit orphans enjoyed three encounters with a wild elephant herd consisting of a cow with her family of a young calf and four teenage elephants. The group was first encountered on the 9th when they came to the water trough for a drink just as the orphans were exiting the stockades. The wild group headed out with the orphans to feed on Msinga Hill. Lesanju and Mzima were both enthralled with the young calf. They were prevented from getting close to it by the older elephants. The second encounter took place the next day. Wassesa was the only one interested in greeting the wild herd. Like Lesanju and Mzima before her she was also prevented from approaching the young calf. The last encounter with the wild herd took place on the 12th when they came to the water trough in the evening after the orphans were already in their nightly quarters. Wassesa was the only one to rumble a greeting to them as the rest were busy feeding.

Shimba suffered from tummy problems for a few days during the course of the month. His problems began on the 10th when the keepers noticed that he was bloated and lagging behind the others arriving last in the evening. The next day Shimba had completely lost his appetite and was clearly uncomfortably bloated. The situation was reported to Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick who advised that he be given a dose of Buscopan to try and relieve the build-up of gasses in his stomach. Angela Sheldrick also suggested that the orphans all walk further afield as movement would help with the problem. The walks in conjunction with the Buscopan helped Shimba who slowly regained his appetite and was much better by the 15th when he rushed out of the stockades ahead of the others for his morning milk ration.

There is still no sign of Emily and Natumi’s groups who are now living in the wild with their calves amongst their wild counterparts. As the vegetation becomes scarcer most of the wildlife has moved further away in search of food. Those that do remain visit the permanent water sources in the area. A wild elephant and her calf were seen at the Ndara water trough on the 12th. The wild cow’s trunk tip was damaged and she had deep cuts that were still clearly visible.

Mkuki, Aruba, & Njia, our three Kudu calves, are now fairly independent and have been enjoying the company of wild Impalas that have been coming to the stockades. They often leave to spend the day with their new found friends. The Kudus and Makonge, our orphaned bull Eland, all enjoy feasting on the numerous acacia pods scattered around the stockade compound. Makonge is doing well, spending the days browsing and relaxing around the compound only coming to the Keepers when its time for milk. On the 30th a leopard was heard behind the Kudus stable. Thankfully all our young charges were safely bedded down for the night.

This month on the 20th and 27th our Voi Keepers were involved in the rescue of 2 orphaned calves. The first one was sighted at Finch Hattons and was extremely weak and emaciated. As the rescue team surrounded the calf it bellowed loudly calling to its family that were feeding close by. They rushed to the calf’s aid scattering everyone in the process. Sadly the calf collapsed and died soon after watched over by one of the wild females who we assume was its mother. The Second rescue was called in by some tourists who had spotted the calf near Ndololo Campsite. This calf was also in a desperate state and died at the Voi Stockades an hour after been rescued.

July 2009 day to day

01 Jul

The orphans exited their stockades in a joyful mood congregating around the stockade water trough before heading to the filed to browse. The vegetation has started to dry up and the orphans spend a large part of their day foraging for food, spending little time at the mudbath.

Lempaute browsing

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