Keepers' Diaries, June 2007

Voi Reintegration Unit

On the l3th June Laikipia, Salama & Lolokwe went off with Uaso, who has been a regular visitor to the younger Voi orphans, and were taken to join Emily’s unit who have spent the entire month away from base with a wild herd. Lolokwe then returned alone to join Natumi’s now independent unit. Meanwhile, Natumi recruited an older female into her group who remained with them for several days. Edie has been assigned the duty of Matriarch to the youngsters, who are still enclosed in the Stockades at night and she has voluntarily chosen to remain with them throughout the month, spending nights with them back in the Stockade in order to be at hand to escort them out in the morning. This month, either Natumi’s group, often accompanied by Uaso have also been turning up at the Stockades regularly, to escort the youngsters out, or else joining up with them somewhere out in the bush. There have only been a few days during the month when Natumi and her group have not joined the youngsters, something that has apparently left Edie somewhat frustrated, since Edie, looks upon herself as the youngsters’ Leader, and resents having to stand down for Natumi. Similarly, Natumi resents the presence of Uaso who has been more or less a regular intruder into her unit and who takes charge. The dynamics of elephant social behaviour closely mirrors that of us humans!

01 June 2007

Edie had spent the night in with the small orphans in the Stockades, and before heading out, all enjoyed the usual fun and games around the compound. Mweiga trailed the other orphans as they headed out. Natumi’s group, which now incorporates Icholta, Lolokwe and Irima came to the Stockade much later for a drink, accompanied by Uaso. Later they went to join the youngsters out in the Park, greeted warmly by Mweya, who went forward to welcome them. They all enjoyed a lot of fun at the mudwallow, and then all accompanied the babies back in the evening, when Uaso waited patiently for Natumi’s group to finish their Copra hand-out before leaving.

02 June 2007

The orphans left the Stockade in the morning without Natumi’s group, the responsibility of heading the youngsters obviously having fallen to Edie, who chooses to be with them throughout the night actually in the Stockade. Natumi’s group did not link up with the youngsters all day, but Uaso intercepted them as they were heading back in the evening. He then hung around the Stockades until he was joined by a wild group of elephants, who came to drink at the Stockades, and afterwards left with them.

03 June 2007

A bright sunny day, and the orphans left in a jovial mood led by Edie. Natumi’s group turned up at 9 a.m. for a drink, and then went to join the youngsters out in the Park. There was a great deal of excitement when the two groups met; games of hide and seek, and trumpeting and urinating, before settling down to the serious business of feeding. They fed toward the North of Mazinga Hill, before heading for the mudbath, Mweiga doing her best to keep pace, but still lagging a little behind. Natumi’s group accompanied the youngsters back in the evening, and then left, Edie remaining behind with the babies.

04 June 2007

The youngsters spent time playing around the Stockade, obviously awaiting the appearance of Natumi’s group. Eventually Edie felt that “enough was enough” and led the youngsters out. Uaso turned up to join them at noon and remained with them throughout the afternoon, accompanying them back in the evening where they met Natumi’s group. He left with Natumi’s group after the youngsters had settled down in the Stockade.

05 June 2007

Uaso joined the youngsters out in the Park this morning, soon followed by a wild herd with whom he had obviously been during the night. A large wild cow took interest in Mweiga, occasionally touching her with the trunk. Later Uaso led the youngsters to the mudbath at noon, but then left to join his wild friends again. Natumi’s group came to drink at the Stockades at noon, but did not meet up with the youngsters today.

06 June 2007

Edie took the youngsters to feed on Mazinga Hill before moving towards the northern side of the hill. Natumi’s group accompanied by Uaso and a wild elephant boy came to drink at the Stockades in the evening, when the youngsters were already in their Stockades. Natumi moved around with the wild friend, introducing him to them all and greeting the youngsters. Later the wild boy and Uaso enjoyed a wrestling match.

07 June 2007

Edie took the youngsters out to feed, and then to the mudbath, where she lay down so that they could climb all over her, and explore her body with their little trunks, “crowning her as their Leader!” Later in the evening, Uaso arrived, and tried to mount on Solango demonstrating that he was the Boss. Solango was relieved when he left, heading for the Voi River, before the arrival of Natumi’s group in the evening.

08 June 2007

The youngsters fed on the Western side of the hill before moving to the mudbath venue, where they were joined by Uaso and his wild male friend. They fed in amongst our orphans for most of the afternoon, and when they began to head off elsewhere, Mpala was very tempted to follow them, but then thought about his Copra Cake rations, and turned back.

09 June 2007

The youngsters began feeding up Mazinga Hill, but then came down, where they were joined by Natumi’s group, Uaso and the wild boy. They all came to the mudbath for a drink, but since it was cold, none of the elephants felt like going in. They all accompanied the babies back in the evening, and then Uaso and the wild boy left with Natumi’s group.

10 June 2007

It was a cool morning, so the youngsters climbed the hill to feed, leaving Mweiga at the base with Rukinga (the Kudu) and Serena (the young zebra). Neither Natumi’s group or Uaso and his wild friend turned up today.

11 June 2007

The orphans again climbed the hill to feed. When coming down for the mudbath, Sera played a game around the rocks, trumpeting happily. Mpala and Mweya joined in, careful not to stumble on the rocks. They went to fetch Mweiga and accompany her to the mudbath. Natumi’s group came to drink at the Stockades in the evening.

12 June 2007

The youngsters enjoyed playing around the Stockade before heading towards the hill. Natumi’s group came to the Stockade trough for a drink at 9 a.m., but then left in a different direction, so did not meet up with the youngsters today. In the evening Burra and Solango competed in a race to be first back home.

13 June 2007

Edie led the youngsters to the foot of Mazinga Hill, where they all did some serious feeding, since the country is drying up rapidly. Mweiga went ahead of the others to the waterhole accompanied by Serena and Rukinga. In the evening Solango and Mpala ganged up to try and mount Mweya, each taking a turn. Mweya didn’t seem to mind. In the evening Natumi came alone for her share of the Copra cake, leaving her group feeding up the hill.

14 June 2007

Uaso was at the Stockades at dawn to accompany the youngsters out to feed. Natumi’s group came a little later, took water, and then went to join them all. They all assembled at the mudbath, Natumi obviously a little concerned about Uaso now assuming responsibility for Leadership! When Uaso wandered off in the late afternoon, Natumi was very happy, and encouraged the youngsters to join her in a soil dusting session. Edie watched jealously, and then went to persuade Morani not to join them. They all went back to the Stockade together, after which Natumi’s group left, leaving Edie back in charge.

15 June 2007

It was a cold and drizzling day, so the orphans concentrated on feeding, and had no desire to go to the mudbath. Natumi’s group was absent throughout the day.

16 June 2007

Natumi's group linked up with the youngsters early in the morning when the youngsters reached the feeding area. There was a highly charged greeting coupled with happy urination and screaming. Natumi went around touching them all gently before settling down to feed. After a wonderful mudbath, Burra and Solango had a tough encounter, which saw Burra victorious, sending Solango running off to try and mount onto Mweya. Natumi's group left the youngsters having escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

17 June 2007

Again, there was a joyful reunion when the youngsters met up with Natumi’s group, minus Uaso, in the morning. They fed at the north end of the hill, moving slowly towards the mudbath where Mpala and Burra put on a grand show, running in and out of the water in an amazing game. Morani joined Natumi in a soil dusting session before beginning to browse again. In the evening Edie left with Natumi and her group, but returned an hour later to join the babies in the Stockade.

18 June 2007

The youngsters left in single file towards the foot of Mazinga Hill, Mweiga able to keep pace with them today. Edie led them to the mudbath at noon where Mpala was first in, stirring the water with his forefeet and trunk before enticing Morani in to join him. Burra tried to rival them. They returned in the evening, having spent a day without meeting up with Natumi’s group.

19 June 2007

The youngsters met up with Natumi’s group and Uaso in the morning and then fed on the Eastern side of Mazinga until noon when they all headed to the waterhole to drink. Since it was cool, none of the elephants wanted to go into the mud, but Burra and Morani had some differences to sort out, and embarked on a tough encounter, and in the evening Solango challenged Irima to a test of strength. A wild herd of elephants came to drink at the Stockades in the evening, and Natumi’s group went off with them.

20 June 2007

Uaso bounced up alone to join the youngsters in the morning, and fed with them the whole day, going with them to the waterhole. After a fun mudbath when Solango again challenged Burra to a wrestling match, with Mpala as an interested spectator. Later Uaso went off heading towards the Airstrip, whilst Burra led the youngsters back home.

21 June 2007

Uaso and Natumi’s group assembled at the Stockades early in the morning to escort the youngsters out. They remained together all day, and all enjoyed a fun mudbath at noon. A wild herd approached them in the evening, when Natumi moved forward to welcome them. Natumi secured a wild friend and played a wonderful pushing game, whilst Icholta followed a wild calf, to which the mother objected. In the evening the wild elephants separated, and Uaso went off with them, but Natumi escorted the babies back home.

22 June 2007

As soon as the youngsters reached the feeding area, they were joined by Natumi’s group. Mweiga, who had gone to the noon venue a little earlier, met a wild group that were just leaving the waterhole. Natumi came in the evening for her supplements, but Uaso was absent today.

23 June 2007

Edie led the babies out today, deliberately moving slowly so that Mweiga could keep pace. It was too chilly for a mudbath today. Natumi’s group came to the Stockades in the evening.

24 June 2007

After the usual early morning games, the orphans headed out, and were joined by Uaso at l0.20 a.m. He accompanied the youngsters to the mudbath, where Mweya enjoyed a wonderful soil dusting session with him and Sera challenged him to a pushing game. Natumi’s group was absent today.

25 June 2007

Natumi’s group, minus Uaso, came to the Stockades early to escort the youngsters out. At 8.40 Ndume and a wild friend came to join them, Solango moving forward to investigate them. Ndume paid a lot of attention to Natumi’s genitals and twenty minutes later, he and his friend moved off, when Burra was tempted to tag along with them. He followed them for a considerable distance but then returned. They returned to the Stockades in the evening along with Natumi’s group.

26 June 2007

Natumi’s group arrived early at the Stockades to take the youngsters out, and all embarked on a serious search for food. They took a break to play in the evening before returning to the Stockades where Natumi’s group joined a wild herd which had come to drink at the Stockades, the same group led by a cow with a broken tusk which turned up the other day.

27 June 2007

Edie again led the youngsters out in the morning. Mweya noticed the presence of Rukinga and Serena and chased them back to the Stockades, where they took shelter within the fence. Later the Keepers returned to take the two back out to the field when the elephants had moved off a little. There was no sign of Natumi’s group today.

28 June 2007

Natumi’s group were at the Stockades in the morning to join the youngsters, and spent the day with them, joined by Uaso later who accompanied them all back to the Stockade, had a drink and then left.

29 June 2007

The youngsters headed out without Natumi’s group today, but were joined by Uaso in the evening, who accompanied them back to the Stockades, and left after taken a drink.

30 June 2007

Natumi’s group came to take the youngsters in the morning, and were with them all day, escorting them back in the evening. Having taken their Copra they then moved off.