Keepers' Diaries, July 2012

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The Voi Stockades have also had an action-packed month, having been involved in the rescue of four elephant calves, whilst receiving one new addition to the Voi orphaned unit.

The Voi Stockades have also had an action-packed month, having been involved in the rescue of four elephant calves, whilst receiving one new addition to the Voi orphaned unit.

The first calf to be rescued was on the 11th July when the Voi Keepers safely captured “Talio” who was airlifted from there to the Nairobi Nursery and who subsequently died. The second and third calves in need of urgent help were both rescued on the 20th - within Mgeno Ranch one a two-year old who was very weak. The calf was easily overpowered, loaded into the vehicle and driven back to the Voi stockades for treatment. Just as this calf was being unloaded into her new stockade another message was received about yet another elephant orphan seen alone at Bomani, near Zomeni Hill. It took the second rescue team only a short while to get to the calf, which was only six months old, and bring it back to the stockades. It was a long and hard day for the Keepers but both new elephant calves were now safely sheltered and being looked after.

With two new babies at the stockades on the morning of the 21st, all of the Keepers were kept very busy making plans for them. The youngest calf, named Bomani, was then airlifted to Nairobi, whilst the other one, named “Panda” remained at the Voi stockades as she was two years old. Both babies are thought to be poaching victims of disgruntled Somali herdsmen whose cattle have been ejected from the Park.

The fourth and final rescue for the month of July was of a six month old calf reported on Taita Ranch, one of the community ranches bordering Tsavo East. The Voi rescue team was quickly deployed and soon found the young calf, bringing him to the Voi stockades and placing him in a stable next to Panda for comfort, where he soon fed on milk. After a couple of hours a plane arrived from Nairobi and the baby was relocated to the Nursery.

Despite the pressure and worry of the four new orphaned elephant calves, Joseph Sauni and his team of Keepers at Voi continued to provide the best of care to not only the resident orphan family at the stockades but to one of their Ex-orphans as well. Ndara, who had not been seen for a few days, reappeared at the stockades towards the end of the month and joined the younger orphans who all rushed to greet her. Ndara was in good form and had been walking around the Stockades recently with just a small limp. All her arrow wounds, including the problematical one in the joint of a leg, were now well healed, so the Keepers believe that she may be awaiting the reappearance of Emily’s Ex Orphan herd so that she can rejoin them again.

During the month several herds of wild elephants visited stockades for water and met the orphans out on their daily walks. Taveta and Tassia are always eager to engage wild age-mates in Pushing Bouts. The wild elephant herds are very familiar with the fresh water placed in drums at the various mudbath venues, sometimes hiding behind bushes until the tractor which has come to fill the drums leaves. They then emerge to finish all the water which involves the orphans having a long wait until the tractor returns to deliver a refill.

One afternoon, Mkuki (the Ex orphaned kudu bull) came to say “jambo” to the Keepers at the Stockades, which was a great surprise, because he has been absent for many moons, and rarely returns these days.

Relationships amongst the orphans, as in human children, changes from time to time, with tension always evident during milk feeding times, especially amongst those who have been near death emaciated starving victims upon arrival. Kivuko, a girl, has been having a hard time from the young bull, Dabassa, who is very greedy and pushy for milk, and often tries to usurp Kivuko’s share. At such times the Keepers have a hard job keeping the peace between two pretty large warring elephants! In contrast, Rombo and Shimba have become close, often climbing Mazinga Hill to browse quietly side by side but Rombo’s affection for Shimba is more in the nature of a role model “hero-worship” of a Senior, something that is normal in bull elephant society.

July 2012 day to day

01 Jul

Ndara, who had not been seen in a few days, appeared at the stockades this morning and joined the younger orphans. After greeting each other they all browsed until midday when Ndara decided to lead them all to the water hole for a quick drink. Ndara then decided to cool down in the mud, splashing the younger orphans who were scared of getting in the water, but one by one the braver ones followed her in and wallowed cheerfully.

Ndara enjoys a bath

Ndara drinking with the orphans

Ndara enjoying the stockades fresh water at night

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