Keepers' Diaries, July 2015

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The month began with a lively encounter with wild elephants at the mud bath. Our bulls really enjoy the interaction with wild male friends which they challenge to strength testing games - very often they take on more than they anticipate and have to make a hasty retreat, but they savour these physical encounters. Mzima, Kivuko, Dabasa, Rombo and Taveta were in the mix on the 1st of July. On the 2nd of July a wild cow with her calf that Tassia has joined came back to have a drink at the stockades and to check in with Tassia’s friends. He seems extremely happy in his adopted family’s company for the moment. The others enjoyed seeing them all and there were warm greetings shared and then they left for an undisclosed destination, still with Tassia in tow.

The month began with a lively encounter with wild elephants at the mud bath. Our bulls really enjoy the interaction with wild male friends which they challenge to strength testing games - very often they take on more than they anticipate and have to make a hasty retreat, but they savour these physical encounters. Mzima, Kivuko, Dabasa, Rombo and Taveta were in the mix on the 1st of July.
On the 2nd of July a wild cow with her calf that Tassia has joined came back to have a drink at the stockades and to check in with Tassia’s friends. He seems extremely happy in his adopted family’s company for the moment. The others enjoyed seeing them all and there were warm greetings shared and then they left for an undisclosed destination, still with Tassia in tow.

This month seldom has there been a day without wild elephant interaction for our Voi orphans. Wild bulls have broken away from their herds to dust bathe with our babies, and Mzima has been coaxed into the midst of a wild herd and hosted for the better part of a day before returning to join the others in the late afternoon before they made their trek back to their night stockades. The orphans have been joined at the mud bath, while out browsing and at the stockades by numerous wild herds and many with tiny babies which is always a thrill for the orphans. Sometimes the mud bathing sessions have had wild elephants descend on them with our orphans enjoying the company. Our older females have had quite a job extracting the exuberant milk dependent babies from their company sometimes.

Ndoria led a wild herd to the stockades one day, with Naipoki spotting two babies in the herd and moving swiftly to try to separate them so she could spend time with them. Her intentions were soon spotted by a protective sister who saw Naipoki off and regrouped her little charges. On another day a wild herd joined the juniors but when a huge bull broke an acacia tree right next to Ishaq B and Naipoki they got a terrible fright. There was another day Naipoki had to work hard at keeping Bada in the fold as he was seriously tempted to join a wild herd.

Wasessa has opted to stay with her babies this month and not join wild friends and continues to shower love on Mudanda, Tundani, Panda, Bada; of course they bask in her attention. Despite Wasessa being the largest of the group and the dominating mother figure, Lempaute and Lesanju are the leaders of the big orphan group. As none of them are milk dependent any more they do tend to move further afield, sometimes climbing to the top of Mzinga Hill in search of plentiful greens.

This month in Voi has been action packed with baby elephant rescues, thankfully all of them successfully reunited with their mothers. On the evening of the 15th a little baby elephant was rescued from a mud hole in the Mzima Springs pipeline and then reunited with his mother. Another happy ending due to the timely response of our Voi Keepers.

On the 19th another tiny newborn calf was trapped in the Tarhi Camp water trough during the night. Thankfully, despite the rest of the herd giving up, the mother remained behind. Our Keepers responded and were able to extract the baby and reunite the calf with the mother, although this was not without its challenges as the baby was hooked on the Keepers, following them and not wanting to leave their side. Thankfully in the end the mother and calf were reunited, another job well done.

On the 23rd another calf was rescued from a Mzima Springs man hole, this operation took place at 11o’clock at night, very challenging for the Keepers but thankfully the operation went well and the baby was reunited with the mother. On the 26th two babies were saved from deep sided watering holes on the Mzima Springs pipeline by our Keepers.

Together with KWS DSWT attended to these areas with the bulldozer to ensure they remain safe. This is an ongoing challenge however as the Mzima springs pipeline stretches hundreds of miles and the elephant like to wallow where the water seeps from the pipeline, causing deep sided pools which, while great for older elephants, can be lethal for new born babies. This month our Voi team has saved five stricken babies and successfully reunited them with their desperate mothers.

There are so many lovely stories of our orphans frolicking with wild friends throughout the daily diary entries in July for the Voi unit so please take the time to read through these to enjoy more details.

July 2015 day to day

01 Jul

It was a wonderful morning as orphans came out of their stockades in a playful mood. They played around after supplement feeding before heading out for morning browsing. Their morning went on undisturbed until noon when Naipoki led the way to the big water pool where they enjoyed noon milk feeding before proceeding for a wonderful mud bath afterwards. They had not been in the mud bath long when a wild herd of elephants approached and Kivuko and Dabasa moved forward to welcome them in the water pool. Before they even had a chance to enter the mudbath, Mzima chose one wild friend of a similar age and challenged him to a test of strength and a ‘pushing game’. Rombo and Taveta approached to support Mzima for this great new game with other, slightly older, wild elephant also moving in to help their family member as well. The three orphans were forced to pull back once this combined strength of the three wild boys became too much for them. It was obvious their wild friends were slightly more superior in strength and age than them! Slowly the wild herd started to move away from the water pool, and Kihari lead the way back to the stockade for the night.

Naipoki leading the way to the water pool

Kivuko on the left welcoming a wild herd

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