Keepers' Diaries, July 2011

Voi Reintegration Unit

The Southern part of Tsavo East is again gripped by prolonged drought - something that is becoming much more frequent with the Earth's changing climate, wildlife compromised by the ongoing intrusion of large herds of domestic livestock into the Park, some being transported from Northern Kenya where drought conditions also persist. The Voi Orphans are having supplementary feeding of lucerne and Copra plus Dairy cubes, which Emily's unit also enjoys whenever they happen to visit the Voi Stockades. This month Emily's unit has only been once on the 13th, and with them was Ex Orphan Tsavo, who has taken to spending quite a lot of time on his own away from the main Ex Orphan herd. All enjoyed supplements and a drink before moving off, but unfortunately missed meeting the Junior Orphans who had not yet returned for the night. The next day, on the 14th, Big Boy "Laikipia" turned up alone to enjoy a hand-out, and led the Juniors out to browse Mazinga Hill, spending an hour with them before peeling off. That day the Juniors met up[ with 2 wild bulls at their noon mudbath, whom they greeted warmly, and who spent browsing time with them later. The Juniors have enjoyed wild company on several other occasions this month - on the 5th when a known wild herd came to the Stockade water trough at 1 p.m. and spent sometime there; again on the l7th and the 25th and 26th when a wild cow allowed the Juniors to interact with her calf, and when Wasessa, Lesanju and and Lempaute attempted to entice the wild baby away from its rightful mother and Wasessa and her favourite, Tassia, trailed the wild cow and her baby when the wild pair decided to leave.

01 July 2011

Having taken their morning milk feed the orphans were led into the bush by Lesanju where Taveta, Tassia, Mzima and Siria engaged each other in pushing games. Shimba then tried to mount Kenia who rushed and hid behind Lesanju.. The day was spent browsing on Mazinga hill before Ndii led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

02 July 2011

The day began with Siria and Mzima engaging one another in a strength testing exercise before browing their way out into the bush and then to the noon mudbath. Mzima and Taveta had fun rolling in the mud while Kenia and Tassia soil dusted and Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya and Dida had a good scratching session against the rocks and trees.

03 July 2011

Shimba, Mzima and Siria ran around the stockades before noticing that the others were feeding on Lucerne. They charged towards the rest of the group sending the orphans scattering left right and center, before they all settled back down before heading out to the park for the day. Kenia and Lesanju were the first to enter the noon mudbath followed by Mzima, Wasessa, Taveta, and Ndii. Sinya and Dida opted out of the mudwallow and instead stood on the banks of the mudbath splashing themselves with mud and water.

04 July 2011

The morning was spent browsing on the southern side of Mazinga hill before returning to the stockades for milk and water. Later they splashed water over themselves, Lesanju, and Dida and Ndii scratched against the rocks, while Taveta and Lempaute had fun soil dusting.

05 July 2011

A wild herd who had visited the Stockade water trough to drink before, came at 1pm and stayed at the Stockade compound for about 20 minutes before heading back into the Park.

06 July 2011

The orphans spent the morning browsing on Mazinga hill before returning to the Stockades for their noon milk feed. At the Stockade waterhole Lempaute, Lesanju and Dida all enjoyed scratching against the rocks while Wasessa escorted her favourite calf, Tassia, to the water trough and stood by his side whilst he drank.

07 July 2011

A new orphan from the Tsavo Conservation Area was brought to the Stockade today pending being airlifted to Nairobi in the morning. Kenia was the first to spot the new arrival in the neighbouring stockade and led her group as close to the newcomer as they could get. All rumbled in welcome while caressing the new calf, who was about l8 months old, with their trunks. The orphan quickly settled down and being exhausted, then slept. She was named Kilabasi and was the first orphan to occupy the new "Taming Stockades" at the Voi Orphans' Centre.

08 July 2011

Upon exiting the stockade in the morning, the morning milk feed was forgotten as all the orphans rushed to take a closer look at the new arrival, "Kilabasi". greeting her warmly. The Youngsters were reluctant to leave Kilabasi when it was time to move to the field. Upon returning to the Stockades in the evening Lesanju went over to the Holding Pen that Kilibasi had occupied and was upset to find that the Newcomer had gone.

09 July 2011

Kenia led her group out of the Stockade to their morning milk bottles where they met Lesanju’s group who had come out ahead of those who spent the night in Kenia's Stockade. Following the milk feed and supplements the orphans engaged one another in the usual Stockade games before Lesanju led them to Mazinga hill for a day of browsing.

10 July 2011

As it was a cold day none of the orphans wanted to go into the mudbath today. Instead the group gathered around a pile of red soil where they had a lovely dustbath before taking turns to scratch against the tree trunks. Taveta, who was impatient rather than wait his turn, pushed Ndii away from the tree she was scratching against claiming it for himself.

11 July 2011

Having downed their morning milk Tassia and Taveta engaged in strength testing games which ended when a bundle of Lucerne was put down for the orphans to enjoy before they headed out to the bush for the day. In the evening the group stopped to have a dust bath in an erosion trench that they passed on the way back.

12 July 2011

Dida was not feeling well today, and appeared somewhat bloated. As a consequence she was unable to keep up with the rest of the group. Lesanju and Kenia were quick to notice that Dida was not well and remained close by her side for the rest of the day, slowing down the group's pace but ensuring that Dida was not left behind. Although Dida drank a lot of water, she refused her coconut milk.

13 July 2011

During the night Dida was given some medication and was feeling better. She had some of her morning coconut milk before following the others out to the field where she fed off lower branches. For the first time this month Emily’s group visited the Stockades at 3pm where they had a drink before enjoying some supplements. Amongst the group was Tsavo who has taken to wandering off on his own. They youngsters just missed seeing the older group who left a few minutes before they returned to the stockade for the night.

14 July 2011

As Lesanju was busy playing with Sinya and Lempaute, Shimba and Siria took charge and led the orphans out of the stockade compound and to the bush. The orphans spent the day browsing on Mazinga hill, stopping only for their noon milk feed and a quick mudbath. Ndii led the group back for the night with Dida bringing up the rear.

15 July 2011

Laikipia (an Ex Orphan from Emily's group) came to the Stockades very early this morning and enjoyed some of the Orphans copra cake and Lucerne before he led the Youngsters to browse on the southern side of Mazinga hill. He remained with them for an hour before leaving to join his group. Shimba and Siria followed him for a while before rejoining the rest of the Youngsters. At the waterhole the orphans encountered two wild bulls who had been enjoying a mudbath and were busy spraying themselves with water. The orphans rushed to greet the two wild boys who joined the youngsters as they went back out to browse.

16 July 2011

The orphans fed all the way to the waterhole where they had their milk feed before deciding whether or not to have a mudbath. As it was a little cold they chose to sit on the banks of the waterhole and insert only their trunks. Unfortunately Siria slipped off the bank and landed in the cold water! The afternoon was spent browsing around the mudbath.

17 July 2011

The elephants joined a wild cow and her calf at the waterhole at noon. The cow allowed the orphans to play with her calf before leaving to rejoin her group who had left when they saw the Keepers approaching with the Orphans.

18 July 2011

The orphans fed on the southern side of Mazinga hill before returning to the Stockades at noon where they were visited by a group of school children. The ever mischevious Lempaute could not resist touching and playing with the children who screamed with delight.

19 July 2011

Today the orphans were visited at the stockades by another school group. Siria was the center of attention as he tried to suck on the children’s fingers. The afternoon was spent browsing on Mazinga hill.

20 July 2011

Upon arriving at the mudbath Mzima dipped his foot into the water to check the temperature before choosing to join the rest of the group who were having a dustbath. Siria, Taveta and Tassia then had a quick dip after which Lesanju led them to the eastern foot of Mazinga hill for an afternoon feed.

21 July 2011

The Orphans scattered along the Northern side of Mazinga hill where they spent the morning browsing before coming down to the waterhole. The day was warm and the group, including Sinya, had a lovely time mud bathing before having a dustbath. Taveta and Ndii had fun rolling in the soil while Siria sat on Mzima who was lying down. Wasessa led her beloved Tassia to the nearby trees for a scratching session.

22 July 2011

The orphans were happy as they exited the Night Stockades and headed out to the bush for the day, with a break at noon for their milk feed. Wasessa led the group to the eastern side of Mazinga hill where they spent the afternoon browsing before returning to the Stockades for the night.

23 July 2011

Following their morning bottle of milk the orphans headed to the southern side of Mazing hill where they fed before returning to the stockade for their noon milk feed and some water. Lesanju, Dida and Ndii had a dustbath after which Ndii wanted to scratch against the rock but was prevented by doing so by Taveta and Shimba who had already enjoying a scratch. The rest of the day was spent on the Eastern side of Mazinga hill. Kenia led the group back in the evening.

24 July 2011

The orphan Ostrich followed the orphans out the to bush today. Lesanju was not happy about having the ostrich among her elephant group and kept trumpeting and charging to chase the Ostrich back prompting the others to do the same.

25 July 2011

The orphans had reached the browsing fields by sunrise and they spent the day searching for greens which are becoming scarcer due to the dry season having taken hold. The wild elephants are visiting the orphan’s waterholes early in the morning in search of water which is also becoming scarce in the Park.

26 July 2011

The morning was spent browsing along Mazinga hill until noon when the orphans reached the waterhole where they were joined by a group of wild elephants and their calf. The orphans greeted the wild herd and focused their attention on the wild calf that Wasessa, Lempaute and Lesanju tried to steal while they played together. Wasessa and Tassia followed the wild herd when they left and the Keepers had a difficult time persuading them to return and rejoin the Junior group.

27 July 2011

The orphans arrived at the noon mudbath later than usual and were greeted by a herd of Oryx who had come for a drink. The Oryx stood aside and let the orphans take their fill and enjoy their fun. Once the orphans had left the Oryx returned for a drink.

28 July 2011

Mkuki and Aruba visited the stockades at noon and spent the afternoon grazing round about. They have both grown and are looking very healthy. A wild elephant herd came to the stockades in the evening for a drink and were in no hurry to leave. They ambled around the compound scratching and leaning against the rocks.

29 July 2011

Shimba led the Orphans out to browse this morning and they settled on Mazinga hill where they fed until noon when they returned to the stockades for their milk and a drink of water. Dida was in fine form today as she kept pace with the rest of the group who walked half way up the Mazinga hill to feed.

30 July 2011

The Orphans spent the day browsing in the same area as yesterday as they had found some fresh greens there and wanted to benefit from the nourishment this find could give them. Following their noon milk bottles Wasessa, Lempaute, Mzima, Siria, Shimba and Taveta enjoyed a dustbath in a pile of red soil that had been brought to the stockade. Mzima sat on Siria’s stomach and watched while the others dusted themselves.

31 July 2011

Sinya and Lesanju spent the day browsing with Dida who again kept up with the rest of the group and was the first to reach the milk bottles at noon where she enjoyed her special coconut cocktail. She also enjoyed the mudbath but avoided lying down in the dust bath out of fear that she would be mounted by Mzima who was just standing by hoping for a chance to do so.