Keepers' Diaries, July 2010

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Voi Reintegration Unit

On the 14th, whilst browsing in the Park, Emily’s group joined the Keeper Dependent orphans. Laikipia and Mweya immediately engaged Siria in a Strength Testing bout while Tassia went to play with Emily’s calf, Eve. Seraa browsed alongside Sinya and Taveta while Icholta tried to befriend Dida who, along with Kimana and Ndii, seemed to shy away from the ex-orphans. Solango took a special interest in Siria and repeatedly tried to entice him away from Emily’s group.

On the 14th, whilst browsing in the Park, Emily’s group joined the Keeper Dependent orphans. Laikipia and Mweya immediately engaged Siria in a Strength Testing bout while Tassia went to play with Emily’s calf, Eve. Seraa browsed alongside Sinya and Taveta while Icholta tried to befriend Dida who, along with Kimana and Ndii, seemed to shy away from the ex-orphans. Solango took a special interest in Siria and repeatedly tried to entice him away from Emily’s group.

Both Emily and Laikipia, who had arrowheads removed last month, are recovering well, the resulting wounds healing well. Meanwhile the Ngutuni fence-line has been cleared of grass so that solar powered electricity can again course through and prevent the orphans, as well as wild elephants, from crossing into the community areas. This will ease human wildlife conflict outside the Park boundaries, something that was very prevalent during the drought of 2009, when the Park itself was overrun with hordes of starving and dying domestic livestock.

On the 7th a young orphan (Murka) was brought in from the Ziwani area of Tsavo West National Park with a spear deeply imbedded into her skull, and severe axe and machete wounds on her hindquarters. The calf was sedated and the shaft of the sprear removed from her head by the Dr. Poghon, the Vet assigned to the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, who cleaned out the other wounds as best he could. She spent the night in the Stockades before being flown to Nairobi the next day, again under sedation because she was so fierce, with no reason whatsoever to feel kindly towards the human race having been so savagely mutilated.

Lesanju continues her Matriarchal duties of the 13 Keeper Dependent Voi Unit orphans. Despite the dry season having now set in, the orphans continue to thrive and are plump and healthy. Kenia continues to mother Kimana, her chosen favourite, and is extremely possessive of him. Kenia who was a Mini Matriarch during her Nursery time, appears to aspire to forming her own mini group within the current Voi Unit comprised of Ndii, Dida, Taveta and Kimana. She and this satellite group often enjoy browsing separately from the rest rejoining Lesanju’s main group on the way to the noon mudbath venue.

Wasessa continues to lavish attention on Tassia whom she regards as her “baby” and keeps a close eye on him, dealing with any of the others who are rough with him. For instance, on the 20th when Siria attempted to mount onto Tassia during the mudwallow, Wasessa was quick to come to Tassia’s rescue, driving Siria away.

On the 9th Lempuate was terrified when a squirrel fell from the tree where she was browsing, landing on her back. She ran off bellowing and this prompted the rapid retreat of all the others as well!

Later in the day, the orphaned kudus, Mkuki and Aruba, who are now almost grown and living wild and free, surprised the orphans and their Keepers with a visit. Everyone was delighted to find them both well and happy.

Siria and Mzima, who are of equal size, enjoy engaging one another in strength testing games, as do Tassia and Taveta. On the 19th Tassia and Shimba initiated a Pushing Game in which Wasessa and Mzima joined.

Early in the month a group of students who were on a field trip with one of the Trust’s De-Snaring teams visited the orphans. The elephants enjoyed greeting the children, most of whom had never seen an elephant let alone been so close to one. The students also loved the experience, which is one they will never forget.

The orphans have been in the vicinity of wild elephant herds on several occasions this month, but have not chosen to intermingle with them. On the 10th and 28th Siria, who is the most outgoing member of the Voi Unit, was eager to join a wild herd who were browsing at Mazinga Hill, but Lesanju, who is possessive of “her herd”, had other ideas, so Siria had to be satisfied with just a trunk wave from afar coupled with a rumbled greeting to which the wild cow responded. On the 12th Siria’s desire to interact with a wild herd was satisfied when he was able to engage a wild boy in a Pushing Game near the Voi Airstrip.

On the 12th Wasessa had great fun sucking water up into her trunk and then spraying it above her head and the others who were standing nearby.

On the 31st the Keepers noticed that Kimana had a swollen back leg, unsure as to the cause since they had no knowledge of him having been pushed and injured by any of the other orphans. Since he was having difficulty keeping up with the others, The Keepers kept the orphans close to the stockades for the day and by nightfall the swelling had gone down.

July 2010 day to day

01 Jul

The month began on a high note as a beautiful morning greeted the orphans when they exited their stockades for their morning milk. It was an action packed morning with the orphans enjoying a game of hide and seek before settling to browse. Tsavo has started drying up following the rains so each orphan concentrated on their own feeding patch. The orphans all jumped in at the noon mudbath and had a lot of fun before heading back to browse for the afternoon. Kenia and her small group comprising of Kimana, Ndii, Dida and Taveta browsed away from the rest joining them on the way back to the stockades where Taveta took the lead.

Kenia's group scratching

Kenia on the left with Ndii & Kimana

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