Keepers' Diaries, June 2001

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The older orphans, who are now independent of the Keepers, and comfortable amongst the wild herds, feature prominently this month, interacting and keeping in touch with our dependent orphans. This includes Lissa and her calf, Lara, who are usually with other wild elephants. Edo continues to usually have Uaso and Lewa under his wing, often joined by Dika. However, occasionally Uaso and Lewa spend a little time with Emily and her adoptees, but obviously would rather travel with the Big Boys. Ndume has only made contact once this month in passing, obviously very pleased to remain with his chosen wild friends, who have been leading him astray, trespassing into community territory beyond the Park boundary, crossing the K.W.S. Elephant Grid near the Main Voi Entrance Gate. We therefore sought urgent permission to erect electrified "droppers" across the road to deter this practice , something that has now been done.

The older orphans, who are now independent of the Keepers, and comfortable amongst the wild herds, feature prominently this month, interacting and keeping in touch with our dependent orphans. This includes Lissa and her calf, Lara, who are usually with other wild elephants. Edo continues to usually have Uaso and Lewa under his wing, often joined by Dika. However, occasionally Uaso and Lewa spend a little time with Emily and her adoptees, but obviously would rather travel with the Big Boys. Ndume has only made contact once this month in passing, obviously very pleased to remain with his chosen wild friends, who have been leading him astray, trespassing into community territory beyond the Park boundary, crossing the K.W.S. Elephant Grid near the Main Voi Entrance Gate. We therefore sought urgent permission to erect electrified "droppers" across the road to deter this practice , something that has now been done.

The month saw the rescue and arrival of three new little elephants in dire straits, two of which, sadly, were too far gone to save. The first was reported as a male (but turned out to be a female) that had been seriously mauled by lions whilst stuck in the mudflats of Aruba dam. Another was a young female calf abandoned at Satao tented camp, obviously too ill with advanced pneumonia to be able to keep up with the herd.

Dr. Dieter Rottcher was flown to Tsavo to treat both these new arrivals, but made the decision to euthenase the lion victim, whose injuries proved too severe to be able to mend. The Satao calf was injected with antibiotic, but died in the early hours of the next morning. The third new arrival is another young female of about 8 months who had fallen into a deep trench dug to repair the Mombasa pipeline near Maungu. So far, she is doing well and is now out and about with the smaller set but kept within the Compound Fence just in case she tries to escape before she is bonded into our group. She has been named "Maungu" and at 8 months of age is the youngest of the Tsavo orphans.

As usual, prominent in the Keepers' Diary are the little boys who are always more competitive, each one endlessly trying to establish dominance over the others.
This is more obvious where male calves are not separated by the usual age gaps, because rank goes with age. Salama seems to usually come out on top, but neither Laikipia, Lolokwe or little Nyiro seem prepared to concede superiority. Of the young females, Kinna is the most feisty! Natumi, who is the oldest in the "baby group" and as such, the Leader, can now be found trying to keep order amongst the warring boys, but she is quite a timid soul, usually relying on Edie and Ilingwezi to chase off intruders of other species in the absence of Emily and Imenti.

Edo continues to keep in closest contact with the dependent set, and usually has Uaso and Lewa with him. He is a great favourite amongst everyone and is a very gentle and "nice" elephant, definitely of all the Big Boys the "softie".

Contact with the wild herds has not been somewhat infrequent this month, mainly because better rains have fallen elsewhere, and most of the Voi river dry season range elephant herds are not yet back.

Nursery:- We thought that little "Mweya" would desist from pushing people over once she was settled and responded to tone of voice and the waggling of a finger. However, this was not to be, and she has continued to display unusually "pushy" behaviour towards visitors and particularly children. We now think we know why! Apparently, during the time it took to process all the paper work to enable her to leave Uganda and come to Kenya, she shared the Entebbe Education Centre with orphaned chimpanzees who obviously gave her quite a hard time. She probably learnt that the best means of defence was attack and thinks that humans are simply bigger chimps that need even firmer handling!

Mweya is now in her fifth month, and it is imperative that she is taught the boundaries of acceptable behaviour around humans, otherwise we have a problem on our hands. Hence, the dreaded little Cattle Prod that made headlines in the Sunday Telegraph is now in action, and we hope to be able to report some improvement in her behaviour around humans next month!

We thought she had managed to cut her first molars without the usual problems, but then she began, for the first time, to show signs of diarrhoea. However, massive doses of colloidal silver saved the day, and she is now back on form in more ways than one!

Nasalot and Mulika continue to thrive and do well, both young females very protective of Mweya who favours Nasalot.

The Rhinos:- Makosa will be two years old in August, and promises to be a fine specimen, albeit perhaps a little over-weight! Magnum and Magnette, who are now four and a half years old and independent of their keepers are fully integrated into the wild resident community of Nairobi Park but continue to keep in touch, often turning up to join Makosa during the noon mudbath session, much to the thrill of the visiting public. We hope that Magnette is pregnant by a wild bull because certainly, her temper has improved!

Our two zebra fillies, Tumaini from the Mara population, and Matope from Tsavo, are now almost full grown and have been set free in Meru National Park where they were tipped out near a wild herd of Burchells zebra and taken into the fold by the herd stallion. Mark Jenkins reports that they are doing fine in amongst this wild group, and he knows this because whenever he drives past and stops to check, they peel off to approach the car, hoping for a hand-out from a human friend!

June 2001 day to day

01 Jun

All the orphans left as usual. Emily and her charges spent the morning with the smaller calves when Salama and Lolokwe spent time playing together. At the mudbath, all except Natumi went into the water. In the afternoon Emily was very motherly towards Tsavo, as usual, and Imenti browsed independently of the others. Edo, Uaso and Lewa came to the Stockades at 4.30 p.m.
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