Keepers' Diaries, July 2009

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!

01 July 2009

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.

02 July 2009

The orphans had a peaceful night followed by a morning of play in the compound, after which they left swinging their trunks from side to side. They browsed all the way to the waterhole where Wasessa jumped right into the mudbath lying down in an effort to entice the others and was soon joined by Siria and Mzima. The afternoon was spent browsing on Mazinga hill.

03 July 2009

The orphans began the morning feeding at the foot of Mazinga hill where there are still some green branches. They then had a drink of water at the stockade water trough before heading to the mudbath where they relaxed under a tree.

04 July 2009

The orphans left the stockade in single file this morning and spent the day browsing. Many of the natural waterholes in the area have dried up and no wild elephants were seen. As it was a cold day the orphans did not partake of the mudbath. Mzima got to lead the orphans home in the evening.

05 July 2009

The orphans were greeted by another cold day when they stepped out of their stockade. Mzima was the only one brave enough to partake of the mudbath after which he engaged Siria in a pushing match. The afternoon was spent on the western side of Mazinga hill.

06 July 2009

After their morning milk bottle the orphans went to feed on Mazinga hill until Lesanju signaled that it was time to go. The group reached the mudbath at noon where they had a drink of water before Shimba led them back to the field.

07 July 2009

As soon as the stockade doors were opened Lesanju led the orphans to the fields where they browsed till 10:30. Siria was in a playful mood and engaged Mzima in various games at the waterhole. The games soon turned into tests of strength which Mzima lost.

08 July 2009

The Aruba, Dida Harea and Ndara wind pumps were visited today and a large number of elephants and other game were seen. It was amazing to watch the respect that the animals had for each other as they took turns drinking.

09 July 2009

Just as the orphans were exiting their stockades a big wild cow together with her calf and four teenage elephants came to drink from the stockade water trough. The orphans left with the wild group to browse on the Southern side of Mazinga hill. Mzima and Lesanju both tried to get close to the young calf but where repeatedly deterred by the teenage elephants.

10 July 2009

The orphans met up with yesterdays wild group who were browsing on the southern side of Mazinga hill. Wasessa was the only one to go and greet the wild herd and tried to unsuccessfully get close to the young calf. At the mudbath Mzima and Siria engaged one another in a pushing match. Shimba was not feeling well and the keepers noticed that he had a bloated stomach. They kept a close eye on him as he slowly made his way to the stockade to have his evening bottle of milk before settling down for the night.

11 July 2009

Shimba was not feeling any better this morning, his appetite was low and was having difficulty keeping up with the others. The situation was reported to Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Nairobi who advised that he be given a 20ml dose of Buscopan to sort out the build up of gasses in his stomach. The Buscopan was administered when the orphans returned to the stockades in the evening.

12 July 2009

The Buscopan did not seem to help Shimba whose stomach seemed even more bloated. Angela Sheldrick suggested that the orphans be taken for a long walk until something else could be sent from Nairobi. The walk helped Shimba whose appetite returned. The wild group from the 9th came to drink at the water trough where Wasessa greeted them with deep rumbles. A wild cow with a 6 month old calf was seen drinking at the Ndara waterhole. The cow was missing part of her trunk tip and bite marks were seen on her trunk.

13 July 2009

As Shimba’s situation continued to improve the keepers led the orphans further afield to browse for the day. Mkuki led Aruba and Chia to a group of 6 Impalas that visited the stockades. The impala bull in the group was not happy with their presence and pushed them away whenever they approached him. Despite that the three left with the wild impalas and spent the day browsing on fallen acacia pods returning in the evening without their new friends.

14 July 2009

Shimba was today given another injection of Buscopan, the dose was increased in accordance with his weight. The injection coupled with the long distance walks seems to be working as Shimba now keeps pace with the rest of the orphans and finishes his milk in record time.

15 July 2009

Shimba was the first to come out the stockade doors in the morning and head straight for his milk, a sure sign that he is feeling much better. The day was spent browsing with a brief stop at the mudbath for milk and water.

16 July 2009

As it was a cold day the orphans concentrated on browsing stopping only to have their milk bottle and a drink of water at the mudbath before returning to the fields. Lesanju led the orphans back to the stockades in the evening.

17 July 2009

The orphans were in a joyful mood and upon leaving their night stockades headed straight to a group of baboons feeding on acacia pods . The orphans scattered round the compound chasing the baboons up the southern side of Mazinga hill where they decided to stop and browse for the day.

18 July 2009

After a brief session of drinking and socializing at the stockade the orphans headed to the southern side of Mazinga hill to browse for the day, stopping to scratch against rocks on the way. They returned to the stockade water trough for a drink at noon.

19 July 2009

After a restful night the orphans exited the stockades in an energetic mood. They spent the morning browsing on the western low lands of Mazinga hill before heading to the waterhole. As it was fairly cold none of them went into the mudbath preferring only to splash themselves with water. The afternoon was spent feeding before returning to the stockades.

20 July 2009

An orphan elephant calf had been seen around the Finch Hatton hotel in Tsavo West National Park. The hotels management alerted the Tsavo mobile veterinary unit and a rescue team was mobilized. The calf was found near the waterhole, was about 8 months old and was very thin. When trying to rescue the calf it cried loudly bringing forth from the bush two wild cows and a teenage elephant all of whom charged the rescue team, sending them running in all directions. The calf was extremely weak and collapsed when it tried to follow the wild herd. Sadly the calf never regained consciousness. It died where it lay watched over by one of the wild cows who we assume was its mother.

21 July 2009

A sunny day greeted the orphans as they exited the stockades in the morning and headed to the Northern side of Mazinga hill to feed before heading to the mudbath for their noon milk bottle. After having their fill they all partook of the mudbath where Mzima and Siria played their usual pushing games.

22 July 2009

The orphans assembled around the stockade water trough for a drink before engaging in a game of chase. They charged around making so much noise that they attracted a herd of baboons curious to see what all the commotion was about. This ended with the baboons being chased off by the orphans who then made their way to the flat lands of Msinga to feed for the day.

23 July 2009

Before heading to the fields to browse the orphans had a scratching session at the base of Msinga Hill. Siria, Sinya and Lesanju all stood on separate rocks to have a scratch while Mzima busied himself digging soft loose soil with his little tusks. Lesanju took advantage of his hard work and lay down in the loose soil prompting Lempaute to mount her in an effort to get her up so that Mzima could enjoy the spoils of his labour.

24 July 2009

The orphans spent the morning feeding on the Northern side of Msinga hill before being led to the waterhole by Wasessa where Lempuate debating whether or not to enter the mudbath was left behind when the group headed out to feed. When she realized she was on her own she bellowed loudly for someone to come and get her. Mkuki, Chia and Aruba returned to the stockades in the evening with a group of six impalas. They all enjoyed feasting on the acacia pods that were scattered around the compound.

25 July 2009

The orphans left the stockades early in the morning to feed on the Western side of Msinga hill. Siria lay on his stomach stretching out his trunk towards Lempaute in an effort to get her to come and play with him, but was sadly ignored as she was busy feeding.

26 July 2009

The orphans spent the morning browsing all the way to the mudbath. Wasessa had a lovely time putting on a show for the keepers as she struck the water with her trunk and stood on three legs while splashing water with the fourth. Lesanju and Mzima tried to stop her antics and were quickly stopped by Sinya who sent them out of the water.

27 July 2009

An orphan calf was seen by some Dutch tourists on the roadside near Ndololo camp with no other elephants in the vicinity. The tour driver alerted us and we prepared for a rescue. Upon arrival at the scene we noticed that the young calf was shaking and extremely emaciated. She had obviously been stuck in mud as her dung was full of mud. The tourists who found her suggested that we name her Holland. Sadly the young orphan died only an hour after being rescued. The fate of her mother and herd is unknown.

28 July 2009

The orphans marched from the stockades to the northern side of Msinga hill where they spent the morning browsing. They went up the hill, around the rocks and back down before heading to the base for their noon milk feed. They returned to the same area in the afternoon before heading back to the stockades for the night. Makonge, the orphan eland is doing well and loves eating the acacia pods found lying around the stockade compound.

29 July 2009

The morning was spent browsing on the Western foot of Msinga hill. After a noon mudbath the orphans headed to the top of Msinga hill, where they enjoyed the untouched green vegetation before heading down the southern side to return to the stockades for the night. The orphan Kudus bar Aruba have all been weaned off milk and are very independent. They enjoy spending the day in the bush in the company of their wild friends before returning to the safety of the stockades for the night.

30 July 2009

Mkuki, Chia and Aruba joined their wild Impala friends in the bush for the day, reluctantly returning to the stockades at7pm. A little while later a leopard was heard behind their stockades. The orphan Impalas and Kudus spent the night in the safety of their stockades. Emily and the other now wild orphans were not sighted at all this month.

31 July 2009

The day was fairly warm so the orphans partook of the mudbath where they had a lovely time running in and out of the water. Surprisingly even Sinya and Shimba, who do not usually like the mudbath, were enjoying rolling around in the water. The orphans engaged each other in pushing games with Siria taking on Mzima and Wasessa taking on Lempaute. They spent the afternoon feeding around the waterhole before slowly making their way back to the stockade.