Keepers' Diaries, June 2006

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The drought that continues to plague the Horn of Africa, and North Eastern Kenya, sadly, also continues to be reflected in the Southern Section of Tsavo, and already the Voi orphans have taken to scaling Mazinga Hill in search of a few green shoots. We have also begun to supplement them by the addition of horse cubes to their daily ration of Copra, and meanwhile are considering the possibility of having to establish the group in a temporary Night Stockade near better pastures further afield. Lionel Nutter, our field Manager, is investigating this.

The drought that continues to plague the Horn of Africa, and North Eastern Kenya, sadly, also continues to be reflected in the Southern Section of Tsavo, and already the Voi orphans have taken to scaling Mazinga Hill in search of a few green shoots. We have also begun to supplement them by the addition of horse cubes to their daily ration of Copra, and meanwhile are considering the possibility of having to establish the group in a temporary Night Stockade near better pastures further afield. Lionel Nutter, our field Manager, is investigating this.

This month, Uaso has been a regular visitor to the Voi orphans, and is often quite a disruptive figure, wanting to target the females in order to “mount” them. He appeared first at the Stockades on the 2nd and since then has spent a great deal of time with the group; often with them all day, accompanying them to the mudbath, and back to the Stockades in the evening, then greeting them again either at the base of Mazinga Hill on following days, or out in the bush. Whenever he arrives there is an exuberant welcome, though I am sure the females have mixed feelings about his presence, and try to avoid him, not enjoying being constantly “mounted”. He is particularly keen on Edie, and was so persistent in his mounting of her on the 9th that the other orphans tried to come to her rescue, and Laikipia plucked up the courage to try and challenge Uaso, but had to give way, since Uaso is a very big l0 year old and bull elephants have to respect rank and age. Eventually, the Keepers had to intervene to allow Edie time to feed without a big encumbent on her back! Uaso was with the orphans on the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, l0th, 11th and 12th and again on the 20th, when as usual he was after Edie. On this occasion it was Natumi who confronted him, but to no avail, because he persisted in his persuit of Edie.

Uaso came in as a starvation victim aged plus or minus l8 months, way back in 1996, and is now classified as one of the “Big Boys”, independent of Keepers and established as a wild elephant amongst the wild community of Tsavo. He often travels with Edo.

Lissa and her first daughter, Lara visited the Stockades on the evening of the 12th, when they met up with Uaso, and Lara ran to greet him, since he is, of course, well known to them having grown up alongside Lissa. Lissa met up with the orphans at the foot of Mazinga Hill the next day, when the orphans were tempted to follow her and Lara, but later thought better of it since she was heading in a direction opposite to the orphans’ Night Stockades.

The friendship of Mweiga, Sosian and Mweya is again reflected in this Diary, as is the exuberance and happiness with which the Voi orphans greet each new day, when they play together before embarking on the serious quest for food. Burra emerges once again as a forceful character, eager always to lead the group and there was a day when Mweiga enjoyed this privilege for a short time before falling behind, when Sosian dropped back to comfort her and keep her company. Mweya has also done her share of Mweiga duties this month.

The orphans met up with a small wild elephant unit on the 18th, when Natumi initiated the greeting and Laikipia took on a wild age-mate in a test of strength and Icholta enjoyed climbing on a wild female teenager who obligingly lay down in order for her to do so. A large wild bull approached them a day or two later, but his size proved a deterrent, and the orphans moved off rather than encourage contact. Seemingly they enjoyed feeding alongside an old buffalo bull instead and they have enjoyed the usual fun and games with the resident baboon troupe, who are always fuel for a fun charging and trumpeting session.

June 2006 day to day

01 Jun

The orphans were in a jovial mood in the morning, enjoying the usual pushing games around the Stockade when Nyiro and Laikipia engaged one another. Natumi then signalled that it was time to leave by a trumpet. The group enjoyed scratching themselves against the rocks at the base of the hill before moving off. At the mudbath Sosian plunged in and Mweiga stood near him, enjoying splashing water over her body. All the elephants had great fun at the mudbath today.

Edie enjoys a scratch against the rocks

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