Keepers' Diaries, June 2012

Voi Reintegration Unit

The Voi Unit Dependent Orphans and their Keepers found themselves in a serious situation on the 29th when they were ambushed on the western slopes of Mazinga hill by 7 very aggressive lions, who chased off the men and surrounded the elephants, attempting to isolate one from the main group. The Keepers raced back to the Stockades and rushed back by vehicle, fortunately arriving in time to avert a tragedy. Using the vehicle they managed to chase off the lions but both men and elephants alike were left very shaken since the Tsavo lions are a very real threat and are quite used to targeting young elephants who lack the protection of several adults. They are also not averse to having the odd human as well!

01 June 2012

The orphans browsed in single file throughout the day, and thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath, romping and teasing one another. In the evening Rombo and Emsaya were competing to be Leader when Tassia grabbed Emsaya and held her back using his trunk and tusks, so that Rombo could win!

02 June 2012

The orphans enjoyed a ration of Lucerne after their morning milk and before heading out to browse. Mzima and Shimba remained behind the others, scratching their bodies against the trough walls. Upon reaching the Eastern side of Mazinga hill the two decided to ascend the hill rather than follow the others. They remained up the hill all day, until the Keepers went to call them down, fearing predators.

03 June 2012

The day was uneventful, too cold to attempt the mudbath. In the evening Taveta challenged Mzima to a test of strength, Mzima backing away so that Taveta got the impression he was winning until Tassia gate-crashed the game whereupon Shimba took him on. This delayed the two contestants, who had to run to catch up with the others.

04 June 2012

It was another day too cool for a wallow at noon, so Tassia took to kicking the water drums around instead, joined by Sinya until the Keepers stopped this game. Mzima lay beside the pool and allowed the others to spray water over him using their trunks.

05 June 2012

It was another day too cool to wallow. Instead Taveta lay beside the pool until Kenia and Ndii came to urge him in when he performed well, demonstrating his skills to the others who were simply spectators.

06 June 2012

Taveta lay down to dust himself at the foot of Mazinga hill, which attracted Dabassa who decided against lying down in case Taveta climbed on him. Instead he watched with awe as Taveta tossed his trunk around, slapping Dabassa’s foot softly who took in a trunkful of sand and sprayed it over Taveta.

07 June 2012

The Orphans browsed the Southern side of Mazinga hill today, returning to the Stockades for a visiting school group. Tassia and Taveta put on a good demonstration of a head butting game, prompting the children to cheer, which excited them even more. Tassia was holding his own, even when Mzima came in to try and disrupt the game. Eventually, Taveta surrendered, declaring Tassia the winner to clapping from the kids!

08 June 2012

Today was warmer, so the orphans enjoyed a boisterous mudbath, and later were joined by a wild herd with whom Wasessa, Lempaute and Taveta made initial contact. The Orphans managed to isolate a wild calf for a Pushing Game, but the calf’s Big Sister cut it short. The wild herd spent half an hour browsing in amongst the orphans before heading off towards the Voi River as the orphans prepared to return to the Stockades in the evening.

09 June 2012

After taking their supplements, the orphans moved out to feed. They enjoyed the mudbath at noon, Taveta grabbing Rombo by the leg to urge him to get into the pool, but Rombo resisted. The rest of the day was spent browsing until it was time to return in the evening.

10 June 2012

On another lovely day, fun focused on the mudbath, Mzima playing with Ndii in the mud until he turned his attention to Layoni, putting his trunk on Layoni’s back. Nii then decided to enjoy playing with Kenia which prompted Mzima to try and win her attention again, but instead Wasessa and Dabassa took her place.

11 June 2012

The orphans browsed the Western side of Mazinga Hill today, taking their noon milk and a mudbath back at the Stockade wallow. Taveta and Tassia engaged one another in a head butting session, which was won by Tassia when Taveta decided to withdraw until Tassia lay down. Taveta then climbed onto him, but ran off in a hurry as soon as Tassia rose, fearing retribution. Dabassa led the group back in the evening.

12 June 2012

It was another cool day, even at midday. Only Wasessa and Kenia wallowed, while the rest enjoyed a dustbath instead, especially Layoni. Meanwhile Shimba decided to take a rest on the banks, which were warmer than the water.

13 June 2012

At the mudbath, only Ndii went in, closely watched by Tassia, Rombo and Kenia, who then jumped in with a loud trumpet blast! She had difficulty climbing out of the slippery walls, so Taveta came to assist her.

14 June 2012

Kivuko today challenged Taveta to a wrestling match, as she stood on the mudbath edge, with Taveta in, which gave Kivuko the advantage. She then had fun charging two wathogs and their piglets who had appeared, awaiting their turn to drink.

15 June 2012

On another cool day the orphans opted out of a wallow at noon, and instead focused on browsing. After a friendly wrestling match, Taveta and Tassia played a game of Hide and Seek which was wonderful to watch.

16 June 2012

The orphans played happily at the Stockade compound, the joy on their faces clearly visible as they ran around trumpeting and throwing up red earth. Mzima and Shimba then led the group to feed on the Southern side of Mazinga hill, above the KWS Headquarters. They took their noon milk at the Stockades.

17 June 2012

Today a wild elephant herd came to drink at the Orphans’ Middle Bush waterhole just before the arrival of the Orphans, finishing off the Orphans’ drinking water. The Orphans just splashed themselves from the main pool, before continuing to feed for the rest of the afternoon.

18 June 2012

After the usual Stockade games, the orphans settled into browsing when Mzima tried to initiate a Hide and Seek game, but was ignored by the others. The day had turned hot by the time they reached the Middle Mudbath venue, so Dabassa, Layoni and Rombo plunged straight into the water even before drinking at the barrels, joined later by the others. They spent a long time in the wallow and browsed their way slowly back home a lot later.

19 June 2012

Emsaya was happy to lead the group out today, followed closely by Wasessa, who adores her. They drank from the barrels at the mudbath, but opted out of wallowing since the day was too cool for that. Later they browsed around the waterhole until it was time to return in the evening.

20 June 2012

As the orphans approached the mudbath venue at noon, Dabassa and Layoni bellowed excitedly as they ran for their milk. Later Ndii excelled in the mudbath, pleasing Taveta who placed his trunk over her back in appreciation.

21 June 2012

As the orphans were enjoying their morning Lucerne handout, mischievous Lempaute grabbed Sinya’s mouthful, prompting Sinya to change position. However, Lempaute persisted in following her and doing the same, which angered Sinya who shoved Lempaute away so that she could enjoy her supplements in peace! When moving off, Lempaute made sure she was a safe distance from Sinya, fearing reprisals for her bad morning behaviour!

22 June 2012

Kenia had the noon mudbath all to herself, since the others chose not to go in. She ran in and out, kicking the water into spray with her front feet which made the others move clear, not wanting to get wet! In the evening a wild cow elephant with two calves came to drink at the Stockades. Ndara, who obviously knew them, but still chooses to sleep in the Stockades, went to greet them and spend time with them, but did not follow them when they left. Ndara’s arrowed foot is almost healed again, but she still walks with a slight limp and feeds near the Stockades by day, returning to the Big Enclosure at night.

23 June 2012

A big wild cow and her calf came to drink at the Stockade trough in the evening when the orphans were already in their Stockades. She spent about l0 minutes at the Stockade, before returning to Mazinga hill where she had left the rest of her herd.

24 June 2012

The orphans browsed all morning, and after an exuberant mudbath, returned to the same feeding area where they were briefly joined by a wild herd who were heading to the Orphans’ Middle waterhole. Shimba, Wasessa and Emsaya attempted to follow the wild elephants, but decided to turn back and join their colleagues, who were beginning to make their way back to the Stockades.

25 June 2012

Although it was another cool day, Wasessa went into the mudbath joined there by Layoni, which made Wasessa’s favourite, Emsaya, jealous. As soon as Wasessa emerged, Emsaya regained her position during a dusting session, shoving Layoni away from Wasessa. Shimba and Kenia then decided to wallow followed by Ndii and Rombo, the orphans going into the wallow in pairs, which was unusual.

26 June 2012

When the orphans arrived at the noon mudbath today, a large bull buffalo was ensconced in the middle. Kenia was first there and did her best to drive him out, but he refused to budge until reinforcements arrived with Lesanju’s group who were following.

27 June 2012

Lesanju led the orphans out to browse today after their Stockade games and supplements. Mzima and Shimba enjoyed a wonderful game of Hide and Seek during which Mzima tripped over a protruding rock, colliding head on with Shimba as he fell heavily. At the noon mudbath Taveta shone while Tassia and Layoni formed a coalition to try and out-do him, trying to pin him down using their little tusks against his back! Amazingly once Taveta was out, he never sought revenge against his two opponents!

28 June 2012

Shimba led the orphans to the top of Mazinga hill to browse today, and all enjoyed that so much that they did not come down as a group for their noon milk, but each in their own time, Ndii being first down.

29 June 2012

It was a fateful day for both the elephants and their Keepers, who were ambushed by a pride of seven lions on the Western side of Mazinga hill. The lions were very aggressive, and chased off the Keepers who ran back to the Stockades to bring a vehicle in order to save the elephants. Meanwhile the lions were trying to isolate one orphan from the rest, but very fortunately the motorized patrol arrived in time to thwart the lions and rescue the orphans. During the melee one Keeper fell and sustained minor injuries, which were treated in hospital.

30 June 2012

With yesterday’s incident firmly fixed in the Keepers’ minds, they steered the orphans in a different direction today. All had fun mudbathing today after which Sinya and Lempaute leading the group back to browse during the afternoon, and Rombo bringing the group back home in the evening. Notes:- The Voi Ex Orphans have been absent all month, obvoiously further afield where browse is more plentiful along with most of the resident wild herds. Ndara is recovering slowly and steadily. Although still limping, she travels further from the Stockades to browse each day, but returns at her own convenience.