Keepers' Diaries, June 2009

Voi Reintegration Unit

Lesanju has established her leadership role, taking over from Wasessa, who has become as devoted to Lesanju as Lempaute and Sinya.

01 June 2009

The Voi Unit Keeper Dependent group comprised of Lesanju, Wasessa, Lempaute, Sinya (girls) and Shimba, Mzima, and Siria (boys) – all ex Nursery, left the Stockades in the morning having played around the compound and taken on water from the stockade trough, waiting for their Keepers to escort them out to browse. Since it was a warm day, all enjoyed a lengthy mudbath at their milk and mudbath venue out in the bush.

02 June 2009

The dry season has set in, with the vegetation turning dry, so the orphans have to concentrate on trying to find enough food. Today they browsed along the foot of Mazinga Hill where Siria enjoyed a dustbath in a pile of loose soil. They fed on the Northern side of the hill all day, and only came down to take their noon milk feed, foregoing a mudbath because the day was cool.

03 June 2009

After Mzima and Siria had enjoyed playing together at the stockades, the orphans headed out to feed in single file. There were light rain showers throughout the day, so the mudbath held no attraction today when the orphans took their noon milk feed.

04 June 2009

Lesanju led the group out to feed on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. There was excitement when they joined a wild family of two large cows and their teenaged young. Wasessa and Lesanju enjoyed close contact with the adult cows, smelling them and touching them with their trunks, while Siria chose a wild age-mate for a test of strength. After a while the wild group left the mudbath, heading towards the airstrip, but the orphans remained and continued to enjoy their mudbath, before moving back to Mazinga hill to feed for the rest of the afternoon. They returned to their Night Stockades in the evening as usual.

05 June 2009

This morning Mzima and Shimba had a tug-of- war over a green branch that both wanted, Mzima emerging the winner. They had only a brief mudbath session before heading out to feed along the slopes of Mazinga Hill again. Lesanju led the group back to the Stockades in the evening. Lesanju has assumed the role of main Matriarch, taking over from Wasessa, who was the leader before her arrival. Lempaute is very devoted to Lesanju, and the two are inseparable.

06 June 2009

Lesanju led the group out to feed at Mazinga hill as usual. They enjoyed a lengthier mudbath today, Siria and Mzima rolling around together. A dustbath followed, and the orphans then returned to browse for the remainder of the day.

07 June 2009

The orphans left their Stockades in a jovial mood, and spent the morning concentrating on browsing. After a brief noon milk feed and mudbath, they continued their search for food until the evening, when Siria and Lesanju enjoyed an intimate moment of “kissing”. Siria then noticed Lempaute rolling in some soil and tried to seize the opportunity to mount on her, but Lempaute denied him the chance, rapidly getting up and giving him a shove!

08 June 2009

The orphans fed leisurely, slowly making their way to the noon mudbath and milk venue. There Mzima enjoyed sliding down the banks into the water head first, while Shimba watched enthralled from a distance. Upon noticing the reaction of Shimba, Mzima went in, swimming like a mud-fish and rolling around in the water. Wasessa opted for a rub against the bank instead, while Lesanju was tempted, but decided instead to watch from the side-lines. Lesanju led the orphans back in the evening.

09 June 2009

There was little activity today, other than browsing, since it was a cool day, even at noon. Mzima and Siria enjoyed a wrestling match beside the mudbath, but none of the elephants wanted to go in.

10 June 2009

After having browsed along Mazinga Hill, the orphans went as usual to their mudbath, where Mzima immediately went in, waiting for the others to join him. Wasessa knelt in the water, and ignoring Mzima, engaged Lesanju in a game. Siria then took on Mzima, but the game ended when Siria jumped on Mzima’s back, causing him to scream loudly, which prompted everyone to abandon the water. Mzima came out, bent on revenge, but Siria managed to evade him, and in the end all then returned to the hill to browse for the remainder of the day until it was time to return in the evening.

11 June 2009

It was an eventful mudbath when Lesanju’s lay on Wasessa in the water, with her buttocks on Wasessa’s head, almost drowning her! Wasessa took it well and once the Keepers had intervened, the two became embroiled in a happy game. Siria played with Mzima, and climbed on Lempaute. They all enjoyed themselves, until Sinya led them back to the browsing area to feed for the remainder of the day.

12 June 2009

It was a hot day, so all the orphans enjoyed the mudbath, having fed all morning out in the bush. Afterwards they rested under shade, waiting for the temperature to drop a little before resuming feeding.

13 June 2009

It was a cold and windy morning today as the orphans headed out to feed, Siria and Mzima took a break to have a wrestling match before heading to the milk and mudbath venue. All decided not to take a mudbath, but headed to the eastern side of Mazinga Hill for the remainder of the day.

14 June 2009

The orphans browsed along the northern side of the hill today, and because it was a cool day, never came to the mudbath. They took their milk at noon, and went back to the hill to feed.

15 June 2009

The little orphaned kudus, Mkuki, Njia and Aruba left the Keepers today and ran to join a group of 4 wild kudus at noon. They went off with the wild group and were missing for the entire day. They returned at midnight, wanting their milk, which they had missed during the day, so the Keepers prepared them their bottles of milk and took them to their stable for the rest of the night.

16 June 2009

Mzima led the orphans to the stockade trough for a drink this morning. Later Lempaute scratched her body against a rock and Mzima and Shimba enjoyed a dustbath in a heap of sand. Today they browsed along the southern side of Mazinga Hill, coming down at noon for their milk at the Stockades, where they enjoyed meeting some school children who had been brought by our De-Snaring Team. They returned to feed for the rest of the day, returning in the evening to enjoy their Grewia branches and night’s rest in the Stockades.

17 June 2009

Lesanju led the orphans out as usual, taking a break to play with Lempaute, lying down so that Lempaute could enjoy climbing on her. They had another meeting with some school children at the Stockades at noon when they returned for their milk, and then resumed feeding for the rest of the day.

18 June 2009

The orphans headed out to Mazinga Hill again to browse. Lesanju again lay down, holding out her trunk to entice Lempaute to come and play, but when Lempaute sat on her, she decided against that game, and resumed feeding. All enjoyed the mudbath today, followed by a rest under shade, before the afternoon browsing session, and their return in the evening.

19 June 2009

Lempaute put on a show which attracted all the other orphans today, rolling around like a drum, so that they all stopped browsing to watch. She then initiated a rock scratching game, but Siria climbed on another rock and trumpeted, telling them all to resume feeding, which they did. The day was cool, so the mudbath was not popular.

20 June 2009

On another cool day, the orphans concentrated on feeding. Lesanju lay down again, but none of the others were interested in playing with her. They took their milk at noon, but avoided the mudbath because of the weather.

21 June 2009

It was another fairly cool day. Wasessa decided to go into the mudbath, tossing her trunk towards the others, enticing them to join her, but only Mzima tested the temperature of the water, and decided against going in. Siria scratched his buttocks against the banks. After the mudbath, the orphans spotted the 3 little orphaned kudus, Mkuki, Njia and Aruba, who were browsing nearby. The elephants trumpeted and charged the kudus, who ran back to the Stockades, leaving their Keeper behind.

22 June 2009

It was an uneventful day for the orphans, who concentrated on trying to get enough browse, since the dry season has set in. They spent only a short time at the mudbath today.

23 June 2009

After the usual Stockade games, and a drink at the trough, the orphans hurried out into the bush to feed. There was a drizzle of light rain, which they enjoyed, so there was no need to go to the mudbath today.

24 June 2009

A Klipspringer, standing on the rocks of Mazinga Hill fascinated the orphans and their Keepers today who were curious onlookers.

25 June 2009

At the mudbath, Siria engaged his friend Mzima in a playful bout, which was watched by the others. Meanwhile Shimba and Sinya enjoyed a dustbath. It was a day of serious feeding.

26 June 2009

Siria and his friend Mzima lingered at the mudbath today, taking turns to sit on each other in the mud. Meanwhile, the other orphans were heading back to browse towards the stockades, so the two hurriedly had to catch up.

27 June 2009

Today some of the Keepers had to go and rescue an orphaned elephant calf seen on its own near the Mombasa Pipeline opposite Ndara. The calf was brought to the Voi Stockades, where it took a little milk and water, and spent the night, awaiting the arrival of the rescue team from Nairobi the next morning to transport it to the Nursery.

28 June 2009

Makonge, the orphaned eland calf, tried to join the 3 kudu orphans today, but they dashed off, leaving him with the Keeper. The orphans do not favour Makonge. The orphaned elephants spent their day on Mazinga Hill as usual, concentrating on getting sufficient browse to satisfy them, and were in no hurry to come down until the evening, when they took water from the trough before their milk.

29 June 2009

The orphans browsed along the Northern slopes of Mazinga hill today, and climbed right to the top to find good greens, untouched by the wild elephants. Again they were in no hurry to come down until the evening, when they descended on the south side and returned to the stockades for their milk and the night.

30 June 2009

the orphaned kudus had a wonderful chasing game today, dashing off at speed into the bush. They went missing for the entire day, and only returned in the late evening, one by one. Mkuki came at l0 p.m., followed by Njia at 11.30 p.m. but little Aruba never turned up. In the morning Mkuki and Njia ran into the bush again and came back at l0 a.m. with Aruba, who was very hungry for her milk. The 3 then spent the entire day around the Malaika house close to the Stockades. Others:- The ex Voi orphans led by Emily and Natumi were not seen during the month. The wild herds are also very scattered but as the bush waterholes dry up, they will be concentrating again on places of permanent water when the orphans will be more in touch.