Keepers' Diaries, June 2011

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Voi Reintegration Unit

On the 19th, an important Chinese delegation came to view the Orphans at their bush mudbath at midday, and were met by Lionel Nutter, the Trust’s Field Manager, who briefed them on the Orphans’ Project. Apparently, they were all duly impressed by the work of the Trust.

On the 19th, an important Chinese delegation came to view the Orphans at their bush mudbath at midday, and were met by Lionel Nutter, the Trust’s Field Manager, who briefed them on the Orphans’ Project. Apparently, they were all duly impressed by the work of the Trust.

On the 22nd, during one of the normal motorized routine patrols to monitor the whereabouts of the Ex Orphans, Loisaba was seen on her own about 20 miles from the Stockades, not looking at all well. Later, she was joined by Emily’s Unit who were accompanied by 3 wild bulls, and taking Loisaba with them, all then moved to a nearby waterhole to drink, later resting under shade, the Keepers still watching from a safe distance. Emily’s group and their wild friends then moved off leaving Loisaba behind so the Keepers called her and she followed them slowly. However, since she had difficulty in breathing, she had to stop and rest frequently, the Keepers having to leave her at the Voi river when darkness set in. A search the following day failed to locate her, but she was found again at the Voi River on the 24th and again slowly followed the Keepers back to the Stockades, having to rest frequently, taking them four full hours to cover the five miles back to the Stockades. However, once back, Loisaba willingly went into Solango’s former Enclosure where she was given browse and supplements, pending the arrival of the Vet attached to the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit.

Loisaba, now aged 13, was rescued as a 2 year old orphan in l998 from Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia. She has long been a healthy “wild” member of Emily’s Unit. but was now obviously suffering lung problems, her breathing compromised and laboured. The Vet initiated a course of injectible antibiotic which seemed to help a little, but sadly Loisaba died on the 27th June at 5 a.m. in the morning. The autopsy revealed 80% of both lungs dysfunctional, invaded by nodular whitish material pointing to either Tuberculosis or Cancer of the lungs. Samples of infected tissue have been sent for Laboratory testing after which we should have a more definite diagnosis as to which of the two took Loisaba’s life. Unfortunately, Tsavo has been invaded by domestic livestock which share pasture and watering places with the Park’s elephants, so the risk of TB passing from diseased livestock to the elephants is something that is very real, posing a serious risk to all the Park’s wild herbivores.

The Voi orphans have interacted with Emily’s group on several occasions this month, and also with some wild elephants. Lesanju is extremely possessive of her little unit, never happy to share them with either the Ex Orphans, or members of the wild community, always eager to separate them, obviously fearing abduction.

Emily’s group joined them out in the bush on the Southern side of Mazinga hill on the 3rd, when Siria enjoyed a wrestling match with Morani and Wasessa with Mweya. Lesanju managed to take her group off only when it was time for their milk feed, when Mweya trailed them for a while before turning back to rejoin Emily’s group. On the 5th Mweya and Thoma from Emilys group came alone to join the Juniors at the Stockades and lead them out to browse, Lesanju following moodily as they left and this time Siria followed Mweya and Thoma for a while when they decided to leave the Youngsters.

On the 6th Emily’s group came to the Stockades at 3 p.m., and enjoyed a handout of supplements. On this occasion Loisaba was still with them, and it was the first time the Keepers noticed that she was not looking well. Mweya and Irima were very attentive towards Emily’s baby, “Eve” while Laikipia enjoyed a long scratch against the rocks, Lesanju’s unit busy browsing elsewhere during this visit.

On the 7th Lolokwe was the early visitor who turned up to escort the Youngsters out, Lesanju again not at all pleased to see him, taking the Youngsters early to their noon milk and mudbath in order to get them away from Lolokwe, who left them to it. On the 12th a large wild bull quietly came to join the Juniors as they were browsing. Dida and Ndii who had not noticed his approach, were very scared when he suddenly appeared amongst them! However, all fed happily together for a while before the wild Bull decided to leave. On the 16th it was a wild teenaged cow who joined the Youngsters, leaving her wild herd in order to do so, and greeting them very lovingly by laying her trunk across their backs. Again Lesanju led her charges to the noon mudbath ahead of time, anxiously glancing back to make sure the wild intruder was not coming along too! That evening a wild herd came to drink at the Stockade water trough but the Orphans were already ensconced for the night, although they lined up to take an interest in a wild baby. And on the 18th a wild herd was already at the orphans’ noon mudbath when they arrived, but did not interrupt events, merely watching the Youngsters enjoy a wallow. Having taken a drink, the wild herd then left, again trailed by Lesanju’s group for a short distance as they headed towards the airfield.

Wasessa remains very protective of little Tassia, her favourite, who is often targeted by Taveta for a Pushing Match, much to Wasessa’s disapproval. Siria, Mzima and Shimba are all close Pushing Partners who enjoy interaction with the older Ex Orphans and also wild herds. Lempaute and Sinya back up Lesanju’s Matriarch-ship while Dida and Ndii remain close friends. The physical condition of Dida, which has long been of concern, has definitely improved since being weaned off milk, and instead fed coconut and porridge.

The Ex orphan Kudus, Mkuki and Aruba paid a visit to the Voi Stockades this month, the orphaned ostrich excited by their appearance, dancing around happily even though they merely ignored him. The elephants have obviously become accustomed to the presence of the orphaned ostrich, who goes out to feed along with them. The Keepers received a blind baby eland into their care this month, which had been found at Dokata just outside the Park’s Eastern Boundary by the Trust’s anti-poaching De-Snaring team. The cause of its blindness is not known, but it is under medication, hoping that its sight might return. If not, this unfortunate baby will obviously have to be euthenazed since a blind eland has no chance of survival in a wild situation.

June 2011 day to day

01 Jun

The orphans browsed the Southern side of Mazinga Hill today, and returned to the Stockades at noon for their mudbath, where students awaited them, having been brought in to see the orphans in the Trust’s Bus. Siria and Ndii entertained the children well, after which the orhans left to feed on the Eastern side of the hill. After the orphans had returned to their Night Stockades, a small family unit of wild elephants came to drink at the Stockade water trough, the orphans all crowding close to the wire to admire a wild calf within the visiting herd.

Ndii scratching on a rock

School children viting the Orphans

School children watching Siria in water