Keepers' Diaries, July 2014

Voi Reintegration Unit

Emily’s group have stopped making their regular visits to the Voi stockade compound this month and keepers and elephants alike have missed them. Only ex-orphans Idie and her calf, Icholta, Mweya, Lolokwe, Irima, Serra, Thoma and Ndara came to visit at the end of the month. Mweya entertained the young ones with some acrobatic games whilst Mzima was cornered in a rough game with both Icholta and Thoma engaging him head on.

01 July 2014

After a wonderful night in the safety of the stockade, the babies were happy to welcome another day. They enjoyed feeding on the copla cake and the Lucerne grass before starting their usual socializing games in the stockade compound. Layoni tested his strength in a competition with Tassia. The pushing game became very intense until Tassia pretended that he was defeated and presented his buttocks to Layoni in submission. Layoni then celebrated his victory and turned to face the others, but was caught off guard when Tassia suddenly pushed him very hard from behind which knocked him down instantly. Layoni screamed in distress and Sinya, Lesanju and Lempaute intervened to assist him. This marked the end of the stockade games paving way to the beginning of a long day of browsing in the field. At noon, Kivuko led the orphans to the water hole. After enjoying a bottle of milk, they had a very brief mud bath due to the cold weather before moving out for the final browsing session of the day. Mbirikani then led the milk dependant orphans back to the stockade in the evening.

02 July 2014

The day started well, with Mudanda raising her trunk high up like a flag testing the air with the sole mission of searching for her adopted mother Wasessa, who was emptying her morning bottle of milk. She was rumbling and calling for Wasessa to quickly come and fetch her. Naipoki went into the stockade water trough and was siphoning cold water and spraying it onto Ishaq-B and Panda. The two ran off contemplating what had just happened from a considerable distance. Mzima today enjoyed leading the orphan herd into the bush for the days browsing and then Kihari led them to the water hole at noon. They all had a lot of fun in some mud bathing games today. Ndii was rolling and throwing some bonus mud onto Kenia's back. Kenia love it and lay calm like a queen, waiting to be bathed by Ndii. This fun went on for sometime and when they finally got bored the two moved out of the water to join others in browsing. The remaining part of the day went on without any disturbance.

03 July 2014

It was a quiet and wonderful morning as the babies enjoyed the warmth of the sunrise. The quiet was only disturbed when the orphans teamed up and ambushed the baboons who were eyeing up their morning delicious copra cake meal. Dabassa was the head of the orphan’s operation team and was assisted by Lieutenant Taveta, Panda, Naipoki and Ishaq-B. The baboons knew for sure they was noway to sneak into the orphan’s food today and instead took off to the KWS lower camps to try their luck there. After the stockade activities were over the orphans went to the field and had a calm browsing session. A few minutes before moving to the water hole the games began again when Taveta, Rombo and Layoni started a game of hide and seek. Mzima ignored them at first, but was forced to join in when the happy trumpeting of the three filled the air. The four playing were left behind by their friends who were heading to the water hole. They then came running and charging to join the others and raised the spirit of everyone in the mud bathing games in the water. They later settled to browse close to the water hole for the rest of the day.

04 July 2014

The day started with the orphans having an early morning interaction with a wild herd of elephants on the northern side of Msinga hill. Mzima as usual made the first advance to join them. The wild group had a good number of wild calves with them so the meeting was full of games. Mzima, Taveta and Tassia each engaged a separate wild friend in a pushing game whilst Kenia, Ndii and Lempaute were busy following the tiniest calf in the herd. Time elapsed quickly and the orphans only left the wild herd when it was time to head to the water hole at noon. After taking a noon milk bottle, the orphans proceeded to the water hole where they encountered a second wild herd of elephants. It was extremely cold so the orphans decided to mingle with the wild elephants instead of taking a bath. Kihari and Ishaq-B were busy following a small elephant calf and were tossing their trunks to touch the baby. Mzima made a wild friend and the two started a wrestling match. They were having so much fun playing that Mzima even followed the herd as they were leaving the water hole. However, one aggressive wild elephant cow charged and chased off Mzima when she noticed he was over powering his opponent in the pushing game. Mzima came running back very quickly to join his orphan friends who had all moved off to browse.

05 July 2014

The orphans welcomed the day in a jovial mood and were playing happily around the stockade compound in the morning. Ndii introduced a game of throwing and hauling huge chunks of soil onto her back. Her game quickly attracted Panda, little Mudanda, Naipoki and Kihari and the air was filled with red dust, under the red ball of the Tsavo sun rising in the morning. Their game was stopped short when Wasessa came to disrupt them and retrieve her loved one Mudanda. This then marked the beginning of the journey to the browsing grounds. Under the careful leadership of Kenia today, the rest of the browsing day went well. The orphans visited the water hole at noon for milk and to quench their thirst with water, but didn't take a bath due to the cold weather. Aruba the ex-orphan Kudu was seen hiding in a bush close to the stockade. It was lovely to see that she had given birth to her third wild born baby; a little girl. All her three babies are very healthy, but a little shy of humans.

06 July 2014

Another great day started with lots of playing activities in the stockade compound. Ndii, Kenia and Kivuko intercepted a group of baboons coming down the hill to the stockade. The three gave chase forcing the baboons to change their course and head to the lower staff camps. Later on in the day, Layoni played a pushing game with Panda and Ishaq-B, but left the game after seeing the others heading towards the water hole. Mudanda came running and was the first to grab a noon milk bottle with the others following suit. They had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games before leaving for the final browsing session of the day.

07 July 2014

It was another cool morning as the gates of the stables were flung open so the orphans could enjoy their equal share of the milk and supplement foods. On arriving at the browsing grounds, there were many wild herds of elephants and the orphans joined one of them. Mzima became quick to secure a playing friend and the two enjoyed a nice pushing game. Tassia was also playing with a wild elephant baby who was slightly older than he was. Poor Tassia had to voluntarily give up the game after he received some no joke hard pushes from the bigger elephant calf. One wild cow came to touch Mudanda which didn't sit well with Wasessa at all. Lesanju, Sinya and Wasessa acted fast to move their orphan herd away from the wild herd, leaving Mzima behind with them. Mzima rejoined the orphan herd two hours later at the water hole. They all welcomed him back happily and trumpeted their excitement.

08 July 2014

It was a nice morning once again and Ndii, Layoni, Dabassa and Panda started the day by enjoying a dust bath whilst lying on the ground. Kenia found a new way of approaching this game as she was not given an official invitation to join in. She came in her own style and began riding on each one, starting with the small ones and finishing her mission with Ndii. Kihari and Ishaq-B had also been looking to join the dust bathing game, but after Kenia caused such trouble they decided to divert their attention to Sinya and have a rock scratching game instead. During the noon mud bath games, Kivuko and Panda became the bathing stars of the day by sliding nicely on the steep walls of the water hole. After a while Sinya decided that they were wasting time at the mud bath as she didn’t feel like bathing today and moved them out to the browsing area.

09 July 2014

This morning the orphans were so busy eating Lucerne grass and the dairy cubes that they didn't notice the arrival of a wild herd of elephants that came to the stockade water trough for a drink. Wasessa, Lempaute and Lesanju were the first to spot them and ran off, leading their friends a few meters away. The orphan herd then turned back and noticed all was well so they followed the wild herds to the water trough. Ishaq-B started mingling with the new arrivals and targeted a small calf with the intent of taking it away. She was given a stern warning from one of its sisters and ran off to take refuge close to her friend Naipoki. Mzima started a pushing game with a big wild boy, but he didn’t enjoy the match as the wild friend was far too big for him. Lesanju then separated her group and headed to the bush with all the others following swiftly. The wild herd hung around the stockade compound for another half an hour after drinking water before moving off.

10 July 2014

After taking their morning milk bottle and feeding on the supplement foods, Lesanju led the orphans towards the western side of the stockade for the morning browsing. Tassia enjoyed a nice long scratching game with Naipoki waiting in line for her to finish so she could have a scratch as well. Tassia deliberately delayed and took far too long scratching, reducing Naipoki to a staring spectator. Naipoki gave up waiting and moved off to join the others who were busy browsing. When it was time for the noon milk bottle, Lempaute sneaked away and left with the first group of orphans heading to the water hole. She was touching and petting little Mudanda as her adopted mother Wasessa had been left behind to come with the last group. At noon the orphans encountered baboons, zebra and a herd of wild elephants that had all come to enjoy a drink at the orphan’s water hole. The wild elephants ran away when Lesanju and her big orphan’s crew came running to join them which accidentally scared them off.

11 July 2014

Rombo was shining in the mud bathing games at noon until he was engaged by Tassia and Layoni who decided to sit on him while he was lying down. Tassia sat on his head and Layoni sat on his buttocks which prevented him from moving or continuing his games. The mud bathing games then became very sweet, and the orphans were joined by a wild herd of elephants. The orphans stopped bathing and started socializing with them instead. Later, Tassia allowed a big herd of impalas to drink water with him without charging them.

12 July 2014

There was a big scratching party this morning at the stockade compound. All the orphans shared the few stones around to enjoy a good scratch of their itchy buttocks. Lesanju and Sinya cordially gave Ishaq-B and Kivuko a chance to scratch when they were finished with the rocks. A few minutes later Sinya went to test Taveta in a pushing game before following Wasessa and Mudanda to the field. The orphans spent the better half of the day browsing until noon when it was time to go to the water hole. There was a wild herd of elephants that had already drunk water and were moving away by the time the orphans arrived. Mzima drank water very quickly and then followed the wild herd. He stayed with them for a long time and only came to join his friends when they were heading back to the stockade in the evening.

13 July 2014

The orphans woke up early as usual because they are very good time keepers. They settled on their delicious copra cake, dairy cubes and fresh Lucerne grass. After the supplement feeding the orphans played some games before following Lesanju into the field. On Msinga Hill the browsing continued without any disturbance. At noon Tassia, Mzima and Taveta remained on the hill browsing heavily as the others went to the water hole. Lesanju was quick to notice their absence so only took a brief moment to drink water and then lead the others back to the same spot. They found the three comfortably browsing there in no hurry to leave. All the orphans joined in and the rest of the day was spent browsing. Tassia, Mzima and Taveta drank plenty of water at the stockade trough in the evening as they had missed the mid-day drink at the water hole.

14 July 2014

The orphans fed in a very organized manner, exploring the far northern frontier of Msinga hill. Here they joined a friendly wild elephant herd and stayed with them for half an hour before heading towards the water hole at noon. The wild herd followed the orphans to the mud bath and they all enjoyed a good bathe together. A middle aged wild boy happily played a pushing game with Taveta. Sinya, Lempaute and Lesanju keenly watched the game and Taveta tried his best to show off to the ladies that he was indeed strong. There was a lot of showing off games at the water hole today. Tassia took advantage of Kivuko’s kneeling position to easily ride on his back. Kivuko was unable to support Tassia’s weight and they both fell down into the water. The wild herd, who had spent a considerable amount of time with the orphans, decided it was time to leave for browsing. The orphans were left there briefly before coming out for the final browsing session of the day.

15 July 2014

The orphans had a wonderful dairy cube and copra cake feeding session in the morning until Mbirikani and Kihari stopped to settle an old score. Sinya responded first and intervened placing herself in the middle of the two. Mbirikani and Kihari were peeping over the top of Sinya clearly wanting to engage, but Sinya stood firmly. Mbirikani’s temper was running high and in frustration she bit her trunk and left it in her mouth for some time, maybe to calm herself down. Lesanju and Wasessa led the orphans to the browsing grounds where they all settled for some serious browsing. The weather was cloudy and cold and the milk dependant orphans nearly missed the correct time to start heading to the water hole. Lempaute gave a trumpet blast as a reminder and it was amazing how all the browsing activity was brought to an immediate halt. The small ones took off instantly to the water hole for their milk and water. Lesanju’s group followed them later to drink water but there were no water games as the weather was still cold. Naipoki enjoyed leading them back to the stockade that evening.

16 July 2014

The orphans gathered to feed on copra and dairy cubes after a morning milk bottle. When they were finished baby Mudanda and Ishaq-B went to scratch their trunks and belly’s on the rocks, alternating to give each other a chance to scratch. On arriving at the browsing ground, Wasessa missed when she tried to charge Ndii and accidentally landed on Mzima. Mzima went for revenge which required Sinya and Lempaute’s intervention. Mudanda helplessly took refuge close to Lesanju as she watched her dear mother in the middle of a fight. This was the first time after many months that Mzima was seen in a real fighting situation as he is usually very calm and playful. The browsing went on as usual after the two peace keepers managed to restore calm to the herd. Wasessa took Mudanda and reassured her all was well by stroking her back with her trunk. The orphans went to the water hole at noon, with the milk dependant orphans moving first and the bigger orphans in Lesanju’s group following a little later. There was a lot of fun at the mud before moving on with browsing for the remaining half of the day.

17 July 2014

It was a fairly cold morning and the young ones walked comfortably out of their stable for their morning share of milk and the supplement food. Their older friends came out of their stables a few minutes later and Wasessa stood behind baby Mudanda guarding her so she could have a peaceful milk feed. Wasessa later welcomed Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki to share a pile of the delicious copra cake before following behind the others to the browsing grounds. Here the orphans settled for some serious browsing business for the better half of the day. The orphans encountered a wild elephant bull drinking water at the orphan’s water hole at noon. The bull enjoyed drinking water with the orphans but soon left them as they took a bath. The rest of the day went quietly with Kihari enjoying leading them back to the stockade safety in the evening.

18 July 2014

The orphans encountered a small wild elephant family of one mother and her two calves on the way to the water hole at noon. The wild family were comfortably resting under a tree having a pleasant time. The orphans moved to join them with the intention of engaging the small calf in a game. However, his older brother was closely watching the young calf and chased the orphans away. The orphans reluctantly moved on to the water hole and were lucky to encounter another big wild elephant family that had come to drink water. This herd had a variety of wild friends to choose from and the orphans enjoyed lots of games. When they were finished playing they moved on to browse for the remainder of the day.

19 July 2014

When the young orphans and their older counterparts in Lesanju group had finished taking their share of the corla cake, Taveta invited Tassia for a fun pushing game. Lempaute and Rombo on the other hand were busy scratching their bellies and buttocks simultaneously on the same rock each being comfortable with the portion of the rock they had secured. Mzima was resting his trunk softly onto little Mudanda’s back as she drank water in the stockade water trough. Wasessa was not worried as she knew it was a temporary attachment. The sun was bright and the orphans went to shelter themselves under some acacia trees before proceeding to the water hole at noon. Layoni stood in front of Sinya and used his trunk to spray himself with water and mud. The spray also hit Sinya who was not happy about getting wet so she pushed Layoni into the water. Layoni converted the push into a way of taking his bath. He then moved to the centre of the wallow to avoid the vetted interest of the orphans on the embankment. Rombo and Dabassa had a nice time soil dusting together after their mud bath before all the orphans headed off to browse.

20 July 2014

Today the orphans wound up their stockade games quickly to spend the cooler hours of the morning browsing. The browsing went very smoothly for the better half of the day and then they went to their noon mud bath. The orphans arrived at the mud bath almost at the same time as a big wild elephant herd and they welcomed them to share some water from the water barrels. After they had drunk, the herd went into the water hole to take a bath with the orphans and Mzima engaged a very big wild bull for a wrestling match. Sinya and Lesanju spent their time on a mission to steal a beautiful tiny wild elephant calf, but it was under the close watch of its sisters and a brother. After the wild herd left the orphans continued with their bathing and Ndii and Kenia stole the show having a wonderful time. When everyone was finished the orphans started browsing and continued until they reached the safety of the stockade in the evening.

21 July 2014

Kenia and Ndii lead the others to browse half way up Msinga hill this morning. The orphans came running down to take a noon bottle of milk and then headed straight into the water hole for a bath as it was really hot today. There was a variety of games at the water hole and Rombo thoroughly enjoyed scratching his neck on Dabassa’s back. Dabassa kept cool and allowed Rombo to proceed; maybe he enjoyed a little tickle on his back as well. Lesanju had a nice soil dusting moment but this ended when Wasessa came to sit on her which didn’t make Lesanju very happy. Soon a big wild herd of elephants approached the water hole running which raised a big cloud of dust. The orphans were scared off and ran away to the upper sides of the water hole. None of them turned back to establish what was happening as they were all very nervous. The rest of the day went on well.

22 July 2014

This was yet another beautiful morning and the orphans came out of their respective stables emptying a morning bottle of milk before engaging in their usual stockade socializing games. Lesanju was indeed in charge and took them to the main park to start a day of browsing day without wasting much time. The orphans browsed all morning and then went to the water hole at noon where they encountered a herd of elephants that had already finished drinking clean water from the barrels. Taveta, Dabassa and Mzima started playing with some wild calves when a second wild herd arrived. Just before the two wild groups left the water hole, a third herd arrived and there was a huge congregation of orphans and wild elephants. The fun and games with the wild herds were brought to an end when a wild teenage calf tried to take Mudanda. Both Wasessa and Lesanju were not happy about this and quickly pulled their orphan herd away from the wild herds to start the final browsing session of the day.

23 July 2014

There was a show of mighty power games at the stockade this morning with the boys engaging each other to impress the ladies. Layoni took on Tassia, as Taveta took on Dabassa and Mzima settled with Rombo. When all the games were over all the orphans headed out to the browsing grounds. On arriving at the foot of Msinga hill, Panda and Mbirikani diverted away from the others and headed up hill to browse. They later came down to join their friends when they started heading to the water hole. The orphans were joined by several wild herds at the water hole and there was a lot of fun and pushing games. However, they were later chased off by an angry mother when Panda and Ndii attempted to steal a small wild calf.

24 July 2014

On reaching the eastern side of Msinga hill, the orphans decided to go half way up the hill to browse. Dabassa introduced a game of sliding down hill, sometimes in a knelling position, which was quite dangerous and so none of the others joined him. Rombo was busy pushing a huge rock with his head with the intention of rolling it down onto the others, but the rock wouldn’t budge an inch. The mud bathing occasion was brief as it was cold.

25 July 2014

At the noon mud bath, Wasessa was busy dusting herself with soil leaving Mudanda temporarily unattended. Lesanju took advantage of the situation and she went to little Mudanda and embraced her. Wasessa saw Lesanju with Mudanda and quickly approached them to reclaim her adopted baby. As both Lesanju and Wasessa have a lot of respect for each other they didn’t fight over Mudanda and the rest of day continued in peace.

26 July 2014

The orphans enjoyed some nice pushing games in the morning at the stockade after their morning milk bottle. One wild elephant cow and her calf left their herd browsing at the peak of the hill and came to drink water at the stockade water trough. The orphans followed this wild cow as they were very interested in her young calf and even went with her up to the peak of the hill to join the rest of her herd. They stayed there for the rest of the day and missed their afternoon milk bottle, finally returning to the safety of the stockade in the evening. The wild elephants stayed on the hill and only came down to drink water at the stockade water trough in the middle of the night.

27 July 2014

Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Mbirikani started the day with some amazing soil dusting games. Lesanju stood close by as their referee and later led them to join the others who were moving off to the field. There were some light rain showers throughout the morning and the orphans enjoyed playing dusting games in the erosion trenches. They then went to the water hole to drink water, but no one went into the mud bath as it was too cold. Kihari enjoyed leading the orphans back to the stockade in the evening.

28 July 2014

Today, Tassia and Taveta were left behind by the others as the two were fighting fiercely. When the fight was over they started running to join the rest of the herd who had moved to the browsing field. Kenia and Ndii went to welcome Tassia and Taveta and soon they were all playing a game of hide and seek together. The game looked like so much fun that most of the other orphans joined in as well. A wild herd of elephants came to drink water from the stockade trough when the orphans were already in their stables. Panda and Mudanda greeted them with a rumble from behind the electric wire surrounding their stable.

29 July 2014

The morning was cold and the orphans left the stockade early. As the drought continues the orphans need to spend as much time as possible browsing as the green vegetation dries up. They spread all over the field whilst browsing and only regrouped on the way to the water hole at noon. At the water hole, Kenia watched over Mudanda for a small amount of time until her adopted mother Wasessa arrived. The orphans had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games and then returned back to the browsing fields.

30 July 2014

Today brought another beautiful morning and the orphans once again left the stockade early for a long day of browsing. Mzima and Sinya were mistakenly left behind as the others headed to the water hole at noon. They came running and charging towards the water hole and Panda ran to welcome them. Poor Panda ended up on the receiving end of Sinya’s anger about being left behind and was pushed hard by Sinya. Panda screamed and Lempaute moved quickly to calm her down. When all was settled the orphans enjoyed lots of mud bathing games and then went into the bush to browse.

31 July 2014

The close of the month saw the arrival of Edie, Icholta, Mweya, Lolokwe, Irima, Seraa, Thoma, Ndara and Edie’s calf. Emily and her calf together with Sweet Sally and others like Laikipia were missing. It was suspected that they had left the others behind, as the ex-orphans that came to the stockade seemed in a hurry. Although it was a brief visit, Mweya could not go unnoticed as she played some amazing acrobatic games to impress the small ones. Mzima found himself in a fix when he was cornered by both Icholta and Thoma engaging him head on. Emily group didn’t come to the stockade and it’s assumed they have travelled far away in the search for green vegetation as the drought continues.