Keepers' Diaries, July 2021

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Voi Reintegration Unit

July was a very cold month in Voi. We’re at the height of the dry season here in the southern sector of Tsavo — and indeed it is very, very dry — so the chilly weather may seem incongruous. However, we are also in the midst of our winter, so it creates quite a harsh combination of conditions. The orphans were duly businesslike this month, focused on staying warm and finding ample browse.

As always, it was heartwarming to witness our matriarch, Kenia, look after her darling Pika Pika. After one afternoon milk feed, she escorted the little girl over to the water trough to ensure she had a drink. Because of the dry conditions, it is very important that the orphans constantly quench their thirst, and Kenia seemed to realize that Pika Pika might forget amidst the cold weather. This nurturing spirit and attention to detail is what makes Kenia such a great matriarch.

Even our resident playmates, Ngilai the elephant and Ivia the buffalo, were rather subdued this month. This was not for lack of trying on Ngilai’s part: He was constantly trying to intercept Ivia for a possible sparring match, but on many occasions, the buffalo brushed him aside to focus on eating instead. That’s not to say that the pair didn’t enjoy many lively games throughout the month. Cheza, the female buffalo, does not like to get embroiled in these sparring matches, but she is always an avid spectator. Sweet Diria, the zebra of the orphan herd, is doing very well. He is perfectly at ease among all the elephants.

Last month, Ndotto was Ivia’s playmate of choice. Now that buffalo is so sedate, the playful bull has turned his focus back to his elephant friends. Ndotto and Mbegu remain very close, as they have been since their Nursery days. One morning, they stuck to each other like glue, holding each other’s trunks and patting each other. This continued well into the afternoon; they even walked down to have their milk bottles together! Little Emoli is an equal opportunist when it comes to playmates, but he loves climbing on Mbegu and sliding over the big girl’s round belly. In fact, all the youngsters of the herd share a wonderful bond. Under Mbegu’s leadership, Emoli, Murit, Godoma, Lasayen, Ndotto, Ngilai, Sagala, Tagwa, and Tamiyoi are doing so well in their new home. 

Tundani and Suswa have become something of a dynamic duo. They both like to browse on the acacia branches that hang over the electric fence in the compound. Ndoria, Embu, Ishaq-B, Rorogoi, and the other older orphans were on their best behavior throughout July. Happily, Pika Pika fever has subsided, and everyone — namely, Ndii — seems to be much less possessive of her. Araba, who was the baby of the herd until Pika Pika came along, has also been enjoying special time with Kenia. There was a very sweet moment when both Araba and Pika Pika cuddled up next to Kenia, one girl on each side, to enjoy their lucerne together. 

There was a funny incident towards the end of the month, when the orphans returned home for the evening. As the milk-dependent orphans were having their nighttime feed, Mudanda, Mashariki, and Ndii decided to take over their stockade! Upon finishing their milk, Ndotto, Murit, Mbegu, Lasayen, and Ngilai stood at the entrance of their bedroom, surprised to find the older orphans inside and unsure what to do. The Keepers escorted the three big girls over to their own stockade, so Mbegu’s herd could settle in for the night.

July 2021 day to day

01 Jul

It was a lovely morning as the orphans headed to the lucerne feeding area after having their milk bottles. After a while Murit decided to walk back towards the stockades to relax for a while on his own. He seemed to be contemplating lots of deep thoughts, and when he was done he walked off again to enjoy scratching against a rock. While Murit enjoyed this solitary exercise, his friends continued feeding on lucerne. After a while Tamiyoi decided to go and enjoy rolling on the loose soil, while Tagwa and Sagala stood beside her. Sagala then decided to enjoy her own rolling game on the soil too. A little further away Ngilai stood standing near the terraces, posing and stretching. Emoli noticed Ngilai on his own and walked over to initiate a wrestling game with him. When they were done Ngilai got up and walked off to enjoy scratching against one of the rocks in the stockade compound. Emoli wanted someone else to play with, so went and picked on Godoma, while Tagwa chose Ndotto for yet another sparring game. When the orphans were done with all their games they walked out to the Park to begin browsing. 

They spent the morning browsing along the open grasslands and slowly made their way to the mud bath for their noon milk feed. 

The orphans chose not to really mud bath today and slowly they made their way back out to browse. Sagala scratched against a desert shepherd tree while Ngilai invited Murit for a sparring game. When he was done playing with Murit, Ngilai walked off and spent some time with Arruba, catching and holding her trunk in their own private kind of game. The orphans had a quiet afternoon browsing and slowly made their way back to the stockade compound just before 5pm.


Sagala dustbathing

Ngilai on the stockade terrace