Keepers' Diaries, July 2012

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.

01 July 2012

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.

02 July 2012

After the orphans had enjoyed their milk today, they once again followed Ndara for Lucerne feeding. Wasessa seemed to be unhappy with Ndara and decided to take himself away from the group. A big herd of wild elephants came to drink water after the orphans had left.

03 July 2012

This morning the orphans enjoyed some fun games. Shimba invited Layoni for a pushing game and they played roughly until Kenia intervened to help save Layoni from Shimba’s attempts to ride on his back. Lesanju soon decided to move on and led the others to the eastern side of the stockade where they all spent the rest of the afternoon.

04 July 2012

It was a cold morning today and the orphans didn’t spend too long feeding on supplements before heading off to the western side for the beginning of their browsing day. It was a long journey around Msinga Hill before reaching the middle water hole in the late afternoon. Lesanju, Sinya and Wasessa enjoyed themselves immensely whilst they scratched their itchy rumps on the sides of the walls, whilst Shimba coaxed Taveta into a pushing game.

05 July 2012

All of the orphans were in a playful mood this morning after their milk and Lucerne. Sinya and Lempaute were being extra affectionate to the smaller ones today, stroking Rombo and Dabassa, whilst Mzima was busy following Kenia around trying to play a mounting game.

06 July 2012

This morning Emsaya joined in some games with Tassia and Wasessa, but she became overly excited and made the mistake of pinning Tassia down, who soon jumped up and chased Emsaya far afield. Tassia soon stopped the chase as Wassesa got involved, but Emsaya still kept her distance for the rest of the day and even left half her bottle of milk to run away from Tassia again.

07 July 2012

Lesanju, Sinya and Kenia took the others on an early morning walk to the eastern side of Msinga Hill, not giving them very long to play in the compound this morning. So Shimba and Taveta soon broke away along with Dabassa and Rombo, splitting the group in two for a while before reuniting. They soon arrived at the water hole but none of them decided to have a bath as it was too cold.

08 July 2012

The bathing time was filled with much playing today as Mzima and Taveta had great fun with several water games, whilst Lesanju and Sinya had a brilliant dusting game before taking a rest in the shade.

09 July 2012

After deciding not to go into the cold mudbath water, the orphans moved north of Msinga Hill where they enjoyed the untouched bushes and long grass of the area. Wasessa and Emsaya led the rest of the family slowly back to the stockades in the evening.

10 July 2012

Today Lesanju and Shimba took the lead of the other orphans and walked high up on the western side of the hill. On reaching a very rocky place, Lempaute convinced Kivuko into a running and charging game. Kivuko soon realized this was a dangerous game and walked away. On return to the stockade they were all met by a group of school children who were paying them a visit, and for almost an hour everyone had great fun.

11 July 2012

This morning Kenia’s group, which is the youngest group, queued quietly for their milk and Lucerne, whilst the older ones including Lesanju walked directly for their Lucerne, but Wasessa waited patiently for her baby Emsaya to finish her milk before they both walked together to the grass. Rombo and Kivuko had a little misunderstanding this morning and engaged in a head battling fight, if the Keepers hadn’t have intervened one of them could have got hurt. There was a report from Mgeno today about an orphaned baby elephant calf that was found alone and the rescue team was immediately deployed.

12 July 2012

Today has turned into a very warm day after a chilly morning. Kivuko, Ndii and Taveta were first in the cool waters of the mudbath and even Shimba wallowed for a while to escape the heat. Tassia, Dabassa and Kenia soon joined in the fun and they were all rolling around and splashing together.

13 July 2012

Another very hot day forced most of the orphans into the water after their milk. Sinya took the lead followed by Lesanju, Wasessa and Lempaute who all had their fun before getting out and letting the younger orphans have their turn. Rombo had a wonderful day in the water today and soon found a mound of soil to roll around in, turning him completely red in colour.

14 July 2012

This morning Rombo and Dabassa started their hide and seek game, with Rombo chasing Dabassa all around the stockade. This game carried on for a while before they were forced to follow the other orphans out for a day of browsing around Msinga Hill.

15 July 2012

A herd of wild elephants visited the orphans today. Taveta and Tassia waited eagerly to see if they could find their age-mates to play with. Sadly there were no elephants of the right age and Taveta and Tassia were very disappointed. In the evening another wild elephant herd approached the stockade’s water trough whilst the orphans were in their stables. 3 big cows and 3 calves drank at the water trough for a good twenty minutes before moving off.

16 July 2012

Today is a very windy day but none of the orphans seemed to mind as they browsed cheerfully on the eastern side of Msinga Hill. Shimba was feeling extra energetic today and climbed higher up the hill than any of the other orphans. Taveta was being very naughty today and bullying the others at the waterhole, starting with pushing around Ndii and then Kenia, who gave him two hefty head-butts, which made him keep clear for the rest of the day.

17 July 2012

On a rocky part of Msinga Hill, Tassia and Taveta enjoyed a fun game of hide and seek between the rocks. At one point when Taveta found Tassia he grabbed his tail, which made Tassia scream, scaring the other orphans who scrambled towards the safety of the Keepers, who soon calmed them all down.

18 July 2012

Again Shimba climbed to a higher point on the hill than any of the other orphans, as a male elephant he is becoming more solitary. Because it wasn’t a hot day none of the orphans took a bath, but instead they had great fun dusting themselves in the red soil. Ndii had a great time of spraying the others with dust. Mukuki came to say jambo to the Keepers today, which was a great surprise as it is rare to see him and later in the evening a wild elephant visited the stockade’s water trough with her two-year old baby.

19 July 2012

Lempaute and Shimba led part of the group up Msinga Hill today were the best food is and they browsed until noon. When it was milk time, Kenia, Ndii, Kivuko and Dabassa were first to have their share before letting the others have their turn. As the babies then rushed to the water trough to quench their thirst, Lempaute and Lesanju decided to drink straight from the water bowser.

20 July 2012

At 2.30pm today we received a message about an elephant calf found alone in Mgeno Ranch. The Keepers quickly organised the rescue team and after an hour and a half drive they arrived and found a two-year old calf that was very weak, who had been captured by the rangers of the ranch. The calf was loaded into the vehicle and taken swiftly back to the stockades for treatment. Just as the calf was being placed in its new stockade another message was received about yet another elephant calf found alone at Bomani, near Zomeni Hill, not far from the Voi stockades. 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.

21 July 2012

With two new babies at the stockades this morning, all the Keepers were kept very busy making plans for them. The youngest calf is to be transferred to Nairobi today, whilst the other one will stay here as she is too old for the Nursery. The one from Mgeno Ranch has been named Panda, whilst the one from Bomani has been named Bomani. Both babies are suspected of being poaching victims.

22 July 2012

Today a familiar wild elephant herd was waiting for our water troughs to be filled. They hide behind the bushes and wait for the tractor to leave before finishing all the water. Our orphans had to wait longer this morning for their water as the tractor carried in a second load. Panda is well settled in her new home and is taking her milk well from the Keepers.

23 July 2012

Each morning the Keepers clean Panda’s stable and when they are inside Panda engages them for a pushing game. She will spend only a couple more days in her stable with her Keepers before heading out into the bush with the rest of the orphans. Her health is improving and she looks very happy.

24 July 2012

We had another school visit today who had come from a local primary school. Shimba and Taveta entertained everyone with a playful pushing game whilst Layoni was misbehaving and head-butting Kenia, who charged him roughly sending him fleeing out of sight.

25 July 2012

Today the orphans split into three groups. Shimba, Rombo and Layoni went up Msinga Hill, whilst Kenia, Ndii, Dabassa and Taveta stayed behind digging some tubers they found along the way. Lesanju and the rest of the orphans browsed farther afield. Another family of wild elephants passed close to the orphans and Tassia was first to run and greet them. Little Panda still continues to do well and looks very happy.

26 July 2012

The orphans had great fun charging the baboons and impalas today, whilst Kenia and Ndii started off with a skillful pushing game. Kivuko and Dabassa seemed to be settling an old score and they fought furiously until Lesanju got involved and separated them. Mukuki arrived at the stockades this evening with a group of impala and stayed there for a couple of hours before disappearing off into the night.

27 July 2012

Another peaceful day for the orphans. The afternoon became a little more playful when the boys started to test their strength against each other. Tassia and Taveta love to play and are building a good friendship after Tassia was abandoned by Wasessa for Emsaya.

28 July 2012

Kivuko and Dabassa are becoming very hostile towards each other, especially during feeding times. Dabassa is very greedy when there is milk around and he starts pushing, shoving, head-butting and screaming at Kivuko. The Keepers have a hard job at separating them during these times. In contrast, Rombo and Shimba are becoming very good friends, climbing the hill and browsing quietly together. Ndara came to visit the stockade this evening. She was given plenty of copra cake and spent the evening browsing on Msinga Hill.

29 July 2012

Another rescue. A six month old calf was reported today having been found on Taita Ranch. This is one of the community ranches, which is struggling to fight the poaching in the area. Our rescue team was quickly deployed to the area and found the young calf. After a short while the calf arrived at the Voi stockades and was placed in a stable next to Panda for comfort, where she soon fed on milk. After a couple of hours the plane arrived from Nairobi and the baby was relocated to the Nursery.

30 July 2012

Lesanju and Lempaute led the orphans out for the day and soon met Ndara who was out browsing alone. All the orphans rushed to her to say jambo. Ndara was on good form and is doing well, walking around the park without difficulty. Her wounds have healed nicely and she is hopefully waiting for Emily’s group to come so that she can join them. Ndara then decided to leave the babies and arrived at the stockade where she knew she could get something to eat and drink.

31 July 2012

Dabassa and Layoni were up to tricks this morning as they hung around the mixing area waiting for extra milk. They tried to confuse the Keepers that they hadn’t had any milk yet this morning and when that didn’t work they started a mock fight to get attention. Seeing their plans weren’t working they decided to take their frustration off on the baboons by charging them around the stockades.